•Even if your horse isn’t showing any signs of discomfort, always carefully consider how your bit-and- bridle configuration acts on his mouth to make sure it’s comfortable and not pinching. Familiarize yourself with the common behaviors associated with bit discomfort, and pay careful attention to your horse’s actions and demeanor on an ongoing basis, noting anything new or unusual. If your horse shows signs of bit discomfort (such as tossing his head, refusing to open his mouth for bridling, or chomping or grinding on the bit), thoroughly examine his mouth. If you discover any signs of irritation or injury on his lips, corners, bars, palate, or chin, schedule an exam with your vet before you ride him again. If your horse has recently lost weight, is dropping feed, or has a poor appetite, especially after you’ve ridden him, schedule an appointment with your vet or an equine dental technician. The bit could be exacerbating an underlying dental problem. Be aware that head tossing and bit chomping can also be signs of pain or sensitivity in another part of your horse’s body, or of poor saddle fit. Then, too, bit chomping is sometimes a reaction to boredom— especially in young horses. When in doubt about the cause of chomping, check with your vet. If you’re uncertain about how a particular bit should fit or act on your horse’s mouth, or you’re unsure about what type of bit would be best for your horse, seek help from a professional. Any bit can be problematic in the wrong hands. Always be soft and slow with your hands and rein cues— never jerk or torque your reins. Retire worn or damaged bits; even expensive, high- quality bits can endure wear and tear over time and develop sharp edges, chips, or grooves that could cause irritation to your horse’s mouth.