Snaffle Considered the mildest bit and suitable for all ages and experience. They apply little pressure to the poll, nose or chin groove. They can be used in all disciplines except high-level dressage
Pelham This a snaffle and the curb of a double bridle rolled into one bit. It has less action than a double, making it useful for younger or inexperienced horses. It comes in many different mouthpieces, from mild to strong, and the correct way to use one is with two reins and a curb chain. Used in all disciplines except dressage and useful for showing, hunting and jumping
Double bridle A bridoon (snaffle with smaller rings) and a Weymouth are used together with a curb chain and lip strap. Used widely in showing and dressage on more experienced horses
Gag Related to the snaffle but can be quite severe. As well as working on the bars, tongue and roof of the mouth, it puts pressure on lips and poll
Specialist bit For driving, Western, in-hand showing and more
Bits are available in different materials, including stainless steel, brass alloy, German silver, sweet iron, plastic and rubber. You can also get them with various cheekpieces – loose ring, eggbutt, full cheek, Baucher and half cheek.
There are hundreds of varieties of bits on the market, from very basic to highly specialised. Most fit into these categories: