The big bitting guide
Everything you need to know about choosing and fitting your horse’s bit
BITS TS HAVE BEEN used too control horses for thousandsth of years, with the he earliest ones made fromrom rawhide. Today’s bits are much more sophisticated ophisticated and designed esigned to be kinder and more comfortable. But with the enormous range available, it can still be confusing when it comes to choosing the right one. We’ve spoken to three experts to get the low- down on choosing and fifitting bits.
Why one size doesn’t fit all
Knowing your horse’s mouth is important when choosing a bit that does the job you need it to do without causing discomfort. “You want the bit to sit just in front of the first cheek teeth so the pressure is in the right place,” explains equine dental technician Martin Brookes. “But it’s important to recognise that mouth conformation varies enormously in horses and between breeds.” For instance, in Thoroughbreds, the tongue lies on the flfloor of the mouth, leaving plenty of room between the tongue and the roof of the mouth for a bit. Warmbloods can have thick tongues, sometimes bulging out of the teeth, and need a bit that doesn’t pinch at the sides, which is the most sensitive part of the tongue. And in Arabs, their palette can be low, leaving little room for a bit. Martin often sees horses that have a smooth groove worn into the teeth caused by them holding onto the bit, generally a sign that the bit isn’t the right one. “On all the riding horses I treat, I routinely carr y out rostral profififi ling, which used to be called a ‘bit seat shaping’,” says Martin. “Basically, the first cheek tooth is square and by rounding this off at the front I can help relieve any tongue pressure and reduce the chance of pinching.”