The selection of horse bits at your local tack store is probably overwhelming. Choosing the proper bit can feel impossible when you don’t even know what half of them are! From Eggbutt snaffles to western curb bits, each has a slightly different design that allows it to function uniquely. You just have to decide what will work best for you and your horse.
Start with Quality
Before you get too far into the different types, remember to invest in quality. A bit, much like a saddle or bridle, is an important part of your riding equipment. Quality bits can last a lifetime if properly cared for.
Ask These Questions
- What is your experience level?
- How much does your horse know?
- What is the size and shape of your horse’s mouth?
- Will you be showing? What are the regulations for bits?
Your goal should be to ride in the mildest bit that will still allow for clear communication between you and your horse. This is usually a simple snaffle. This popular bit option is often used to start horses and many never transition out of it.
It is common for horse owners to buy curb bits when they feel as though they are lacking control. This isn’t always ideal. Many times these horses just need to be reeducated and started on the basics again. A stronger bit can be used on experienced horses that need only light, fine-tuned aids.
Beginners tend to rely heavily on their hands for balance and security. These riders must steer clear of bits that put a lot of pressure on their horse’s mouth or face, such as a curb. It might even be beneficial to ride bitless until the rider develops a softer hand.
Don’t neglect how the bit will fit. Consider the shape and size of your horse’s mouth when purchasing. Some horses have thick tongues and shallow palates, while others are the opposite. Dental problems can also alter the comfort and effectiveness of bits.
Bit shopping doesn’t have to be difficult. Before you even begin, ask around the barn and see if you can try a few different options. Just like buying yourself shoes, it often takes a few pairs before you find the perfect one.