horse, don’t worry about your bit. If not, follow these steps to find the right bit for him.
Evaluate the Bit
To best evaluate your current bit, enlist the help of a knowledgeable horseperson. This person will be able to see behaviors from the ground that you may not be able to see or feel from the saddle.
Choose someone who knows how to read a horse’s expression and posture. As you ride, ask your helper to see whether your horse’s mouth is slightly open. Is there daylight between your horse’s lips?
Are your horse’s lips tense? Is he tensing or pinching his nostrils? If you look at his eye, is it calm with only black showing? Or do you see the white part of the eye, indicating pain or discomfort? Is he flickering or rolling his eyes? These are all signs of tension. Ask your helper to watch for these signs while you walk your horse on a loose rein with his head down, as you turn and stop. Is your horse’s mouth relaxed at this slow gait?
Then speed up and start riding with more contact. Are there more signs of tension?
If your horse holds his mouth slightly open, and you can see daylight through his lips, it means he’s sucked his tongue into his throat to avoid bit pressure. This is very common and usually goes unnoticed, except from the ground. Your horse may be mostly compliant and obedient, but hold this mouth-open pose.
If your helper sees any of these signs of broken mouthpiece. Busted: A curb bit has shanks that apply pressure on a horse’s mouth using leverage. A snaffle bit has no leverage or shanks. If your bit has a broken mouthpiece, but also has shanks, it’s a curb, not a snaffle.
Without shanks, a snaffle bit provides direct contact from the rider’s hand to the bit’s mouthpiece.
A Tom Thumb “snaffle” isn’t a snaffle at all. Even though it has a jointed mouthpiece, its long shanks actually apply maximum tongue pressure. The joint allows the bit to collapse over the horse’s jaw like a nutcracker and put downward pressure on the tongue, like a nutcracker. bit discomfort, try a new bit or bitless headgear.
Bust Bit Myths
The same horse, outfitted in a combination bit with nose pressure, was a gentleman on the trail the next day. The rider gained control of the horse’s nose and could give him direction without pulling on his mouth.
This horse is calmly playing with his bit. Note that his eyes are relaxed and his mouth is hanging loose even though it’s open.
A horse may avoid the bit by opening his mouth or sticking out his tongue.
On a recent television shoot, this horse and rider applied to work with Julie Goodnight for
help riding out alone on the trail. As it turned
out, the horse’s bit provided little control; he turned his head and headed home. He could raise his head and open his mouth to avoid the