|Only the cutest horse ever|
As I was admiring all the rocking pictures Ellie has taken for me, I thought I might as well illustrate something near and dear to my little tack 'ho heart: BITS!!
I like them. All of them.
Here are some I use regularly with a description of their action and application.
|D'aawww. Photo by me.|
We'll start with the most basic. This is an eggbutt. The mouth piece is a Dr. Bristol, so double jointed, but instead of a softly rounded bean, there is a flat plate for the center piece.
I use it on Cuna for dressage, hacking, and every day stuff. I use the eggbutt because Cuna is a nervous worrier, and he likes the stability that a fixed-cheek bit provides. I use the Dr. Bristol because he's built very long and heavy on the forehand with a low set neck, so it's incredibly easy for him to brace against me. The plate gives me just a little bite that reminds him to be soft without hurting him or backing him off the bit.
|Photo by Ellie|
I used this bit CONSTANTLY when I started riding Cuna. The full cheek is fixed, which keeps it very still in his mouth, while the plastic mullen mouth is very forgiving. It's a very soft bit.
I picked it because Cuna and I were just getting acquainted. He is very particular about his mouth (fair enough, right?) and I didn't want to piss him off while we figured things out. It didn't give me a lot of brakes and we had no longitudinal flexion, but we also pretty much eliminated his trademark head tossing as an objection to the rider's hands.
A fixed cheek also provides some steering control by putting pressure on the horse's face, which makes it an excellent choice for young/green/obtuse horses as it gives them a bit more information and won't allow the bit to slide through the mouth the way smaller models can. Ever seen that happen? Yeah. Not pretty.
|Fuzzy photo by me|
I think d's are pretty. They do have one distict drawback: those corners. Reins and/or cheek pieces tend to slide around them and then get stuck. I haven't seen a horse react badly to that, since it's a fairly small motion, but it's kind of a pain.
This particular full cheek is a single jointed slow twist. It's the go-to bit for one of the horses in the barn who has a lovely neck and well set head, but gets a little strong while jumping. She doesn't need to poll pressure that helps Cuna, but the corrugated surface reminds her to be soft without using leverage.
|Photo by Ellie|
The loose ring gave her some motion to play with. The bean instead of the plate kept everything very soft to keep her from curling behind the bit, and the copper is supposed to encourage salivation. It worked for her.
Cuna HATED this bit. It was too narrow for his big, squishy lips, so it pinched him. Fixed cheek bits rarely pinch--loose rings can. To each their own?
|Photo by me|
We borrow it from one of Steph's clients who has a green horse who is very stiff, but he curls behind the bit if anything touches him. It works really well for him, but Cuna?
Not so much. Although he liked the fixed cheek, he was pretty sure the mouth piece was just something to carry around and ignore. He doesn't lean--he braces. Not the same.
|Photo by Ellie|
That leaves us with my current go-to jumping bit. It's a happy mouth mullen pelham with connectors.
Cuna gets very strong while jump big fences and PARTICULARLY while running XC. It's his joie de vivre, what can I say? While yes, I agree that you should be able to ride any horse in a snaffle (and we have/can jump in one), there's no sense trying to beat the joy out of him. His passion is what makes him great--I just have to roll with it.
The plastic mullen makes it a nice, soft mouthpiece, but the curb action of the pelham gives me a little more control. Before you purists complain, YES, I know the connectors muddy the action of the bit, making it neither curb nor snaffle. I know it's more proper to ride with two reins.
You know what else? Cuna likes those connectors. He dislikes the two reins. He apparently didn't read the book.
Needless to say, I love bits. I've actually bought bits that I don't have a use for just on the off chance I need them in the future. What are you guys using? How often do you change bits? Anything cool I need to add to my inventory?