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Bit discussion

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  • Bit discussion

    I don't know much about the different kinds of bits and their functions, so I was hoping to open up a bit discussion thread.

    What is the difference between loose ring, eggbutt, d-ring, full cheek, etc and why would you choose one over the other?

    What types of bits (snaffle types, French link, rollers, gag bits, Waterford, happy mouth, etc.) do you find useful for what reasons?
    Why do you choose these over all the other options out there?
    Why would some of these not be good for other types of horses? (ie: my trainer told me French links sort of encourage pulling, so they would not be good for horses that already have a tendacy to pull.)

    I know I can look all this up, but I always find that I get more accurate information when it's coming from people with personal experience.

  • #2
    I school my jumper on the flat (our dressage work) in a loose ring with a fat copper mouthpiece that has a peanut joint in the middle (not a French link). I used to ride him in a dee ring, but the loose ring had the mouthpiece I wanted, so I switched to that. I don't think there's much of a difference between the cheek-piece of a loose ring, eggbutt, or dee ring though, at least not one that I've noticed when using them on my horses.

    I would choose a dee ring over a loose ring or eggbutt when showing in the hunter or equitation ring, provided the mouthpieces were the same. Simply because it's what's "in".

    I think a full-cheek would aid in turning/steering with the reins, at least that's what I've heard. I might use that on a pony with a small child rider if the pony tries to pull it's way to where it wants to go and rider may need a little something more.

    As far as mouthpieces, obviously a fatter mouthpiece is softer than a thin one.

    I use a snaffle with copper rollers in the mouthpiece for my nervous Arab gelding that has a tendency to spook when he's not fully engaged in an activity. The rollers give him something to do with his mouth, and the copper helps him salivate and relax a little.

    I also sometimes use a rubber jointed pelham on the same nervous/spooky Arab if I need something more (with two reins). He has a sensitive mouth and I couldn't find a pelham with copper rollers in the mouth. The rubber is softer for him, I use the snaffle rein 80% of the time, and I have the option of using the curb rein to bring him back to Earth. When he gets spooky and quick, I typically circle/spiral/do serpentines/something to get him mind working, but some days he's just really spacey and puts his head way up in the air. The curb part gets his attention and brings his head down for long enough that I can continue using the snaffle part to get him working again.

    I don't use a pelham or any kind of bit with a curb chain on my Thoroughbred jumper simply because he hates the chain's pressure.

    I would never use a kimberwicke because I have never found it necessary to only use the curb action of a bit the entire ride. I want to have the option to only use the snaffle part of the bit, and the curb if I need it. Some people use the excuse that a kid is riding the horse in a kimberwicke because they can't use two reins so they can't use a pelham. Well...either get the kid a mount that isn't as strong, or teach the kid to use two reins. Not that difficult.

    If I have the option, I prefer to use something with a middle joint (a fat part or a french link) so that I don't have the nutcracker effect of the jointed bit on the roof of the mouth. Sometimes that isn't an option though.

    I would not use a mullen-mouth rubber eggbutt on a puller. Only because that was the only bit I had on hand when I first bought my TB jumper (a major puller at the canter/jumping), and it did not work.

    When I started my TB jumper out in hunters (the puller horse) and the regular plain dee ring wasn't enough, I used a slow twist dee ring at home to school, and a corkscrew dee ring at shows when he was more up. Both of those mouthpieces backed him off a bit when I used the reins, just the intensity differed a bit. But on course, he still wouldn't go down from a canter to trot for me to do a simple change (when his auto changes weren't there yet- he always does them in tight jumper courses, but didn't in flowy hunter courses). No matter how hard I tried to get him to come down to a trot, he wouldn't break, just basically almost canter in place instead. :rollseyes:

    I have used a two-ring elevator on the TB jumper (with a mouthpiece that had the fat part in the middle, but no copper) with two reins. It does definitely work to back him off and lighten his front end when coming to a fence, but it drives him crazy and in turn he flips his head. So I'm going to try pairing that with a running martingale.

    Comment


    • #3
      I love this website. I think it provides an accurate thorough description of the bits and their differences.

      Originally posted by paintedrain91 View Post
      What is the difference between loose ring, eggbutt, d-ring, full cheek, etc and why would you choose one over the other?
      Loose Ring and eggbut are similar in that they are both very soft on the sides of the mouth. If a loose ring is too small it will tend to pinch the horses lips. I have never had one that fits or is slightly oversized, pinch. Full cheeks without keepers (please don't start the with/without keepers argument) and D-rings have a similar action in that they work on the entire cheek of the horse, not just in the area surrounding the bit like a loose ring or eggbut. A full cheek will have a slight leverage when keepers are introduced. I say slight but there are some that would disagree but as an engineer I can see it.

      Originally posted by paintedrain91 View Post
      What types of bits (snaffle types, French link, rollers, gag bits, Waterford, happy mouth, etc.) do you find useful for what reasons?
      I use full cheeks without keepers (gasp! I know!) on greenies unless they tend to be a bit reactive and in that case I use D-rings for the safety factor with the full cheek getting caught on things. I think they really help teach steering as you can turn the horses head without pulling the bit through their mouth. The cheek also reinforces the "we're turning now" thing. I will also use these on a horse that tends not to want to bend and move away from my leg through the corners for the same reason. I usually start the horse off with the softest mouthpiece their mouth will accomodate. Meaning that not all horses can have the fattest mouth snaffle because their mouths are too small. If that doesn't work then I try different ones to see which one works best for them. My current horse has been going in the same fat mouth bit since I broke him 10 years ago. He goes great in it but when we show in the jumpers I usually use a three ring elevator with the same mouthpiece. He gets super excited about jumping and forgets about me up there (hard to believe as I'm not a small person... ).

      Originally posted by paintedrain91 View Post
      Why do you choose these over all the other options out there?
      I choose to start out with the softer bits because there's no use in overbitting a horse from the beginning.

      Originally posted by paintedrain91 View Post
      Why would some of these not be good for other types of horses? (ie: my trainer told me French links sort of encourage pulling, so they would not be good for horses that already have a tendacy to pull.)
      I would tend to disagree with this statement. I love french links and double jointed bits and try to use them exclusively. However if a horse isn't comfortable in one pulling could very well be a symptom of such and I would probably try something different. I would usually look to it being a training issue first though.

      I would like to see every horse go in the 'softest' bit for their mouth but I understand that it doesn't work that way for every horse. I do however think that many people these days don't understand the value in training a horse rather than looking for a bit to 'fix' something.

      That's just my $0.02 and I'll step off my soapbox now.
      "Be the change you want to see in the world."
      ~Mahatma Gandhi

      Comment


      • #4
        Since a lot of points I might have covered Crown Royal wrote about I will respond through her quote for anything she mentioned. Mine is Bold

        Originally posted by Crown Royal View Post
        I school my jumper on the flat (our dressage work) in a loose ring with a fat copper mouthpiece that has a peanut joint in the middle (not a French link). I used to ride him in a dee ring, but the loose ring had the mouthpiece I wanted, so I switched to that. I don't think there's much of a difference between the cheek-piece of a loose ring, eggbutt, or dee ring though, at least not one that I've noticed when using them on my horses.

        My horse prefers a solid ring (aka, non loose ring) as not only does it prevent the pinches he tends to get, but it has more 'purchase', is more stable, than a loose ring and he is quite touchy about contact. Other than that I too don't notice a whole lot of difference between cheekpieces.

        I would choose a dee ring over a loose ring or eggbutt when showing in the hunter or equitation ring, provided the mouthpieces were the same. Simply because it's what's "in".

        Agreed, it's the most flattering I think

        I think a full-cheek would aid in turning/steering with the reins, at least that's what I've heard. I might use that on a pony with a small child rider if the pony tries to pull it's way to where it wants to go and rider may need a little something more.

        As far as mouthpieces, obviously a fatter mouthpiece is softer than a thin one.

        Not always. If the horse has a small mouth a very fat mouthpiece could be too much and be uncomfortable. But as a general rule, something super thin will be less soft than something a bit thicker

        I use a snaffle with copper rollers in the mouthpiece for my nervous Arab gelding that has a tendency to spook when he's not fully engaged in an activity. The rollers give him something to do with his mouth, and the copper helps him salivate and relax a little.

        I also sometimes use a rubber jointed pelham on the same nervous/spooky Arab if I need something more (with two reins). He has a sensitive mouth and I couldn't find a pelham with copper rollers in the mouth. The rubber is softer for him, I use the snaffle rein 80% of the time, and I have the option of using the curb rein to bring him back to Earth. When he gets spooky and quick, I typically circle/spiral/do serpentines/something to get him mind working, but some days he's just really spacey and puts his head way up in the air. The curb part gets his attention and brings his head down for long enough that I can continue using the snaffle part to get him working again.

        I don't use a pelham or any kind of bit with a curb chain on my Thoroughbred jumper simply because he hates the chain's pressure.

        I would never use a kimberwicke because I have never found it necessary to only use the curb action of a bit the entire ride. I want to have the option to only use the snaffle part of the bit, and the curb if I need it. Some people use the excuse that a kid is riding the horse in a kimberwicke because they can't use two reins so they can't use a pelham. Well...either get the kid a mount that isn't as strong, or teach the kid to use two reins. Not that difficult.

        I won't say I would NEVER use a kimberwick but it definitely wouldn't be a first choice. Tried one on one of my horses and he practically sat down when I put any pressure on it. However when I could be super tactful with it it really helped to lighten his front end and he would jump great in it. It was too much though.

        If I have the option, I prefer to use something with a middle joint (a fat part or a french link) so that I don't have the nutcracker effect of the jointed bit on the roof of the mouth. Sometimes that isn't an option though.

        I also prefer something that's double jointed, however depending on how the horse's mouth is shaped you won't always get a nutcracker effect, and like anything, some horses prefer it over something else.

        I would not use a mullen-mouth rubber eggbutt on a puller. Only because that was the only bit I had on hand when I first bought my TB jumper (a major puller at the canter/jumping), and it did not work.

        My current boy is in a mullen mouth eggbutt, and he can be a puller in the canter, however he is so sensitive about contact this in the bit he goes best in especially for flatwork as when he isn't pulling it encourages him to reach into the bit rather than suck back away from it. Will see what we do for jumping when he gets back into it. We did do the 1.20m last year in this bit but we will see.

        When I started my TB jumper out in hunters (the puller horse) and the regular plain dee ring wasn't enough, I used a slow twist dee ring at home to school, and a corkscrew dee ring at shows when he was more up. Both of those mouthpieces backed him off a bit when I used the reins, just the intensity differed a bit. But on course, he still wouldn't go down from a canter to trot for me to do a simple change (when his auto changes weren't there yet- he always does them in tight jumper courses, but didn't in flowy hunter courses). No matter how hard I tried to get him to come down to a trot, he wouldn't break, just basically almost canter in place instead. :rollseyes:

        I have used a two-ring elevator on the TB jumper (with a mouthpiece that had the fat part in the middle, but no copper) with two reins. It does definitely work to back him off and lighten his front end when coming to a fence, but it drives him crazy and in turn he flips his head. So I'm going to try pairing that with a running martingale.
        Don't have time to write anymore but thought I would add a little bit.

        Comment


        • #5
          This website has some good links regarding bits and how they work in the mouth...although it focuses on dressage legal ones.

          http://cvm.msu.edu/research/research...f-connection-1
          Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Thank you all for the information and tidbits. I'm hoping to become more knowledgeable about bits, and the links also helped tons. While searching I was sure which sites to believe since they have different opinions although I do understand that it all depends on the horse.
            I really don't know the first thing about bits, so I want to become more interactive, or at least know how to use a bit correctly, or what it is meant to do for the horse.
            Thank you all, please keep the comments coming. I'm sure this thread will be useful for other people trying to learn about bits and their functions.

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm curious. I've always been told that a corkscrew is a harsher bit than a slow twist, but when comparing pressures on my arm the corkscrew certainly doesn't have as much bite. So, why is a corkscrew considered stronger?

              Comment


              • #8
                In my experience, bitting a horse is the process of :

                1 Understanding the types of bits (shanks, mouthpieces, cheeks, etc) available and how they act on the horse.

                2 Pick a goal for your horse's bit change. (ie: why are you changing his bit)

                3 Experiment with bits. Nothing will tell you what a horse wants to go in like trying it on him.

                Edit: Its also important to, in time, be able to recognize which issues require a change of bit and which require a change of technique or training. Bits are sometimes much more an art than a science!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Perfect10 View Post
                  I'm curious. I've always been told that a corkscrew is a harsher bit than a slow twist, but when comparing pressures on my arm the corkscrew certainly doesn't have as much bite. So, why is a corkscrew considered stronger?
                  I have been told this as well but I don't believe it. The slow twist has more sharp edges to it and therefore I believe it's a harsher bit.

                  When I was younger and didn't know any better, I tried both for a puller (yes, I now know it was a training issue) and the slow twist definitely got more of a response than the corkscrew.
                  "Be the change you want to see in the world."
                  ~Mahatma Gandhi

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Depends on the corkscrew and the slow twist. Some are much sharper than others, depending on manufacturer and model so you can't say across the board.

                    Some slow twists have very small, soft edges and some have big, clear edges. Same with corkscrews -- some are quite sharp and others are just barely ridged. I have two corkscrews in my (massive) bit collection and one is mild, the other is definitely not.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Owning my TB would give anyone a great education in bitting

                      I also love Sustainable Dressage for learning about bits. I once had to do a presentation on bits and bitting and referenced their article on bitting several times.

                      I agree with almost everything besttwtever said, especially picking soft bits for babies. My TB goes in a wider mouthed loose ring french link (with a big round link in the middle) with bit guards. He's also got a shadow roll. He really likes the set up so far and I like it too.
                      Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A Kelly hackamore was recommended to us as the ONLY hackamore to use. All others provide inappropriate leverage. Hackamores are particularly useful on horses with poor bit seats, poor tooth/mouth conformation.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Also with bits, any time that you add a chain, you get add in a completely different type of leverage than just directly on their mouth. When one of the ponies at my barn was first purchased, his mouth was a total mess, but he would try and just race around the ring. If you touched his mouth, he would let you know exactly how angry it made him. So my trainer put a rubber pelham on him, to have the leverage of a chain with a soft mouthpiece, and he went wonderfully.
                          With my current horse, I know that with a segunda, which is very strong, she'll try to run around and play tug of war. We put her in a waterford and magic! she goes on the bit and is super responsive. She loves her waterford. So with some horses, a stronger bit might be what's making them ignore the rider. Not in all situations, but this is the horse world. When is there ever just one answer
                          I like mares. They remind me of myself: stubborn know-it-alls who only acknowledge you if you have food.
                          Titania: 50% horse, 50% hippo
                          Unforgetable: torn between jumping and nap time, bad speller

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Something I am confused about- what is the difference between a port and a segunda?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ElisLove View Post
                              Since a lot of points I might have covered Crown Royal wrote about I will respond through her quote for anything she mentioned. Mine is Bold



                              Don't have time to write anymore but thought I would add a little bit.
                              What kind of kimberwick, ElisLove? A plain ported one, or an Uxeter with or without a port (or a jointed mouthpiece)?

                              Perfect10--

                              According to this--
                              http://www.doversaddlery.com/broken-...it/p/X1-01737/
                              a segunda is a broken, or jointed, mouthpiece with a port-like middle joint, so, in effect I guess, a ported snaffle.

                              A regular port is on a bit with a solid (not broken, or jointed) mouthpiece. Like a ported kimberwick or shanked pelham, or a weymouth:

                              http://www.doversaddlery.com/kimberw...hznpznu2dy55jt

                              http://www.tacksales.co.uk/medium-po...elham-bit.html

                              http://www.doversaddlery.com/albacon...hznpznu2dy55jt

                              I hope someone will chime in about bauchers!
                              Last edited by Wellspotted; Aug. 4, 2012, 11:10 PM.
                              Founder of the People Who Prefer COTH Over FB Clique
                              People Who Hate to Rush to Kill Wildlife Clique!
                              "I Sing Silly Songs to My Animals!" Clique

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                It was a straight bar (unjointed ) with a tiny wave of a port. Regular kimberwick with the slots. Tried it both on bottom slot and top slot.

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