The big bitting guide

Ev­ery­thing you need to know about choos­ing and fit­ting your horse’s bit

Your Horse (UK) - - Contents -

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.”

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