The Right Bit - A Combination of many Factors

The bit is the connection between the rider's hand and the horse's mouth. Since the horse's mouth is especially sensitive, the choice of bits should not be taken lightly. We provide you with information on the most common types of bits and the necessary know-how for the selection.

What is important regarding the selection?

The horse owner has the "agony of choice" - and taken quite literally. The bit and the noseband lie in a body region of the horse, in which the nerve tracts are bundled tight and close to the skin. An inappropriate or inappropriate bit in the wrong rider's hand can easily hurt the horse. The highest claim in the choice of the bit is based on the approach of "easy" connection between the rider's hand and the horse's mouth. But as in almost all areas of equestrian sport, no generalizations can be made in the choice of bits. Many different factors play an important role. Basically, however, a bit &mdash no matter how well it fits &mdash can only achieve a successful result if the horse is well and properly trained, the noseband is properly strapped and the rider is able to provide soulful help.

- The ability of the rider and the horse

All in all, this question can be answered by looking at the rider and the horse. While the rider must objectively assess his equestrian training (reins, rider's hand, sensitivity), the anatomical conditions must first be checked in the horse. Also important are the level of training of the horse and the sensitivity of the mouth. A horse that is not good at the aids and lacking the necessary foundation for permeability will not automatically be finer with a 'sharper' bit. Although in such cases the leaning seems to be improved at first sight, at second glance it cannot be a real analogy. Nonetheless, it depends on the horse's sense of which bit is taken and which is not. The focus here should therefore not be on the requirements of a particular class, but rather on the individual needs of horse and rider.

- Anatomical basics

Before the choice of a bit is made, the anatomical conditions of the horse's mouth should be considered closely. In addition to type and mode of action, a bit is characterized mainly by the width and the thickness. But how to choose the right bit for my horse? All in all, you can not look the horses in the mouth from the outside. To choose a bit correctly, this should be the first approach. The thickness of the tongue and also the space between incisors and the back tooth cannot be determined by the size of the horse or the breed. Only a minimum thickness of 10mm for ponies and 14mm for large horses is required. To select the right thickness, the horse owner must measure the space between the incisors and the back tooth. This is the place in the horse's mouth where there are no teeth. When the mouth is closed, the horse owner can determine this place independently: For this purpose, two fingers are placed on each other and gently pushed into the side of the horse's mouth. If you now feel increased pressure on your fingers, it is recommended that big horses have a thickness of 14mm - 16mm, as not much space is available. You have to remember that the tongue also takes up space. If the pressure is not at all strong, a thicker bit can be chosen. According to studies, most horses are ridden with bits that are too big. The reduced space squeezes the sensitive palate and also the tongue. Consequences can be head beating, malaise or 'laying on the dentition'. The width of the horse's mouth also plays a decisive role in the correct selection of the bit, which also differs depending on the type of dentition. For example, teeth with continuous rings, such as the snaffle, should be 0.5 cm larger than the horse's mouth is wide. For dentures with fixed side parts, such as the eggbutt snaffle or leg bite dentition, the dentition should be slightly narrower. These bits achieve the desired effect best when the side panels are tight. On the other hand, curb bridging, which consists of two bits, requires different widths: while the paddle should follow the normal dentition in the distance, the curb is further down in the mouth and therefore requires less space - curbs are accordingly 0.5 cm - 1 cm smaller.


Bits and their effect

- Simply broken bits

Simply broken bits count to the standard teeth either as a water snaffle, as a D-ring bit, as an olive-head bit, etc. Due to the simple refraction, these bits act on the tongue and the jaw when the cord is pulled. The mouthpiece raises slightly, which relieves the tongue center, but the edges are increasingly burdened.

 Tip: In terms of production, the two sides of the simply broken bits are of different lengths. To prevent unilateral loading, the bits should be rotated at regular intervals. However, it is important to pay attention to any anatomical shape. The company SPRENGER has developed several bits with regard to this problem, in which the sides are the same length and a one-sided load is thus avoided.

 While conventional dentures are usually round, SPRENGER also offers an innovation here with the novocontact denture: this simply fractured dentition is flatter, whereby the contact surface in the mouth is correspondingly larger. Especially for horses, which tend to curl up and do not approach the rider's hand, this bit has proven particularly useful.

 - Double broken dentures

Depending on the design of the bits, for example, how the centerpiece is created or whether the teeth are anatomically shaped, the effect of the bit is the result. If the size and width are correctly selected, this bit offers a larger contact surface and thus it is more comfortable to wear. If, for example, the bit is not anatomically shaped, too large or too small, the sensitive tongue can be severely squeezed by the second joint, or it becomes unpleasant and pressure points develop on the palate.

A double-broken dentition with rotating centerpiece can provide a useful alternative for horses that are inactive in the mouth and not chewing good. The rolling element stimulates the horses to play and chew, which ultimately has a positive effect on the relaxation of the jaw musculature and the finer assistance.

- Bar Dentures

With bar dentures, it depends on the right size. For example, if they are chosen too large, they can tilt in the horse's mouth. Due to the straight and usually rigid dentition, the pressure is evenly distributed over the entire tongue and ultimately acts on the lower jaw of the horse. Due to the missing joints in the teeth, directional aids cannot be given purposefully. It is, therefore, more suitable for horses that are already correctly formed in position and bending. Rigid metal poles are usually used for jumping of strong horses. However, there are also softer variants made of plastic, rubber or with a partially flexible centerpiece. The big advantage of the bar bits is the fact that the delicate tongue of the horse is not punctually loaded. The pressure is evenly distributed over the tongue on the lower jaw and is therefore particularly suitable for horses that lie on the teeth and go against the hand. On the other hand, the soft rod bits are also suitable for horses that curl up and crawl when riding with bits of metal. Due to the even pressure distribution, these horses dare to approach the rider's hand.


- Continuous Denture Rings

Continuous bit rings, as they occur at the water bits, can compensate slightly for a restless rider's hand, since the ring easily turns with the rein. Ring bits are standard bites that are used for every rider and every horse, regardless of their level of training.

- Fixed Bits

Fixed bits mean dentures, where the side parts do not go through as in the water bits. Fixed side panels have, for example, olive head, D-ring and thigh trims. Due to the fixed side parts, the rein aids are transmitted more directly than with water bits. The decisive advantage, however, offers the calmer position of the teeth in the horse's mouth. In addition, the sensitive mouth angles of the horse cannot be as easily pinched, as in continuous teeth rings. Fixed side parts are particularly suitable for horses that have difficulties with lateral leaning and break over the shoulder. Even horses that play too hard with the teeth and are restless in the mouth, respond to such dentures very well.


- Bits with curb chains

While the above-mentioned bits work primarily on the tongue and the lower jaw, bits with curb chains have an effect on three different points of the horse's head. On the tongue and the lower jaw, by the leverage of the chain on the neck and through the chin chain finally again on the lower jaw - but almost from bottom to top. Such bits require a responsible approach and the crucial foundations of cavalry, as well as the necessary empathy and a smooth hand.

- Materials

Not only the type of dentures but also the material has an effect on how the bits are accepted by the horses. Especially common are the use of stainless steel, copper alloys, plastic, and rubber. The latter bits are also susceptible to bite due to the soft material. Furthermore, attention must be paid to the quality, especially with such bits. They should, therefore, be solvent-free and food-safe. Especially gum-bites should not contain softeners. Sprenger has developed two additional materials for dentition requirements that have been specially developed for use in the horse's mouth. Sensogan is an alloy of copper, manganese, and zinc. Aurigan on the other hand, is made of copper, silicon, and zinc. Both materials promote the salivation and thus the chewing activity of the horse.

Which is the right bit?

The information about the dentition is, of course, only a basis for the right choice. It can never be decided with certainty in advance which horse will accept which bit. First, however, the correct bit thickness and bit width are important. The next step should be the choice of the particular type of bit because some bits should not be considered for the horse due to anatomical peculiarities. However, it is also the skill of the rider which holds the reins and thus the direct connection to the sensitive horse's mouth in their hands.

Bit Parties

Regardless of the correct size of a bit, the guiding principle "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." plays a decisive role. Thus, some manufacturers already offer 'bit parties', where the rider has the opportunity to correctly measure the horse's mouth and additionally test the bits directly.


Many thanks to SPRENGER for the energetic support.

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