CHOOSING THE CORRECT BIT FOR YOUR HORSE
FIT IS KEY TO A CONTENTED AND RECEPTIVE HORSE
It is not just the mouthpiece that changes size for a smaller or larger bit, the ring and cheek* size can vary according to the mouthpiece size too. These sizes are indicated as measurements A or B at the end of the bit descriptions which correspond to the diagram above. *Where the bit has cheeks, e.g. hanging cheeks or Pelham, the measurement given is for the cheek rather than the ring. For the correct height a straight bar bit should sit neatly into the corners of the mouth and a jointed one just high enough to create gentle wrinkles.
MEASURING YOUR HORSE FOR A BIT
1. Stand in front of your horse (for safety, with your face turned to one side) and with your hands holding the bit. Approximately 1.25cms (1/2 inch) on each side is correct (a little more can be allowed for loose rings). As a guide there should be space to fit one finger between the horse’s lips and the bits ends on both sides. There should be adequate space both sides to clear the lips to prevent pinching, but not so much that the bit can slide across the mouth. Note - Rubber bit rings need additional width.
2. Remove the bit and lay it flat on a firm and even surface. Measure between the two corners of the bit, inside to inside (C) to find the width of your horse’s mouth.
ROUTINE MOUTH AND BIT CARE
Make it part of your horse’s stable management routine to have their teeth checked regularly by a good equine dentist or vet. Ask them to show you how to part your horse’s lips and look at their mouth and bars after active work. This will enable you to be aware of bitting problems before they become issues. Note - Do not put your fingers inside your horse’s mouth. For a long life and your horse’s welfare, wash the bit after every use. Check it’s condition and dry it with a clean towel. Store in a clean and dry environment. Check your bridle and look out for loose stitching, loops, clips or buckles that may be in need of repair.