A Bit About Bits :)

But first, our plan for today.. Thunderstorms pending, I will be out at the ranch this evening. We are going to spend time working on lying down after a short ride focusing on softening to the right. Pictures to be coming soon, for real! We are getting a Nikon D80 as a joint birthday gift, so the quality of our pictures is about to increase.

So Bits.

I think everyone’s go-to bit is a single joint snaffle, mostly O-ring/loose ring or D-ring. I don’t think everyone really considers why, though, aside from thinking it’s the mildest bit and a sure bet to be legal at most shows in most disciplines. Lots of sale ads boast “goes well in snaffle.” But are all snaffles created equal? Of course not. And a single joint snaffle is not the “nicest, softest” of them all. Not that they aren’t great- plenty of horses go like a dream in them, but single-jointed snaffles do not work for everyone. 

I went with the french link sweet iron snaffle for Cello. Single jointed snaffles have a “nutcracker” action on the mouth that can really be uncomfortable for horses with low palates, but they can be uncomfortable for any horse in general. They are mild so it isn’t a huge deal, but you may not get the best result, especially with a young horse in training. I like the french link because the cues come through crystal clear, and the link in the middle eliminates the nutcracker action. I did go back and forth between trying a baucher, which is super stabilized, but my goals with Cello are to create play and encourage salivation. I went with the O-ring for now.

So why the sweet iron? Why salivation? I definitely agree that a horse with a moist mouth is more relaxed, and sweet iron encourages that. Lots of trainers say when the horses are moving their tongues, when they are interacting, they are relaxed in the lower jaw and further up through the poll and spine. All the research I did in the last week backed this up. When I think back to the dressage stables I worked at, and think about the bits I cleaned, it seems pretty undeniable.  There are no two ways about it, those bits were messy and salivation was definitely happening big time. Salivation is not something I hear talked about much, though. Neither is fitting a bit, aside from counting the wrinkles on the side of the mouth!

My advice on fitting a bit is to do a lot of research. Don’t just assume your bit fits- have you analyzed your horse’s palate, his tongue, his gums? Have you checked how the bit actually sits in the horses mouth once it is in? What is his reaction to the bit when cued?? Have you consulted

Cello doesn’t seem to particularly care for the bit I have in his mouth right now (which does fit correctly.) He has a “happy bit,” a rubber D-ring snaffle. It was a good starter bit for us, but now that we are getting serious and figuring things out I need more of a response and he needs more direction/relaxation. It was a good bit for our first 10+ rides of getting to know each other, to analyze what we needed next and what direction we were going to head. With the rubber D-ring, he does listen and does relax and there is only the occassional head toss, but I definitely think we can get a lot more with a new bit. And there is pretty minimal salivation with his D-ring. I’m excited for the bit to ship and to try it out!

Anyways, I’m not up for re-reading this post at the moment so I hope it makes sense, doesn’t ramble and that I didn’t say things backwards (which I tend to do.) I’ll edit it later. My pager for work literally just went off, so here’s hoping that I get to go see Cello today. I didn’t go to the ranch Saturday or Sunday, and just texted my husband saying I miss my horse!!!


Cello & Dani


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