Neue Schule article for British Riding Clubs Magazine

21st April 2019

A History of the bit –The majority of bits we regularly see being used today such as the single jointed snaffle and popular French link are 100’s of years old and traditionally made of stainless steel. Research and development has led to many advances in the designs and materials now used. You will find a variety of ergonomically shaped bits available on the market today made from softer metals with a high thermal conductivity which have been scientifically formulated specifically for the horse’s mouth.

Descriptions of why some bits do not suit some horses

The conformation of every individual horse is very different. Traditionally people have believed that a fat mouthpiece is kind and a thin one is severe. But this cannot be a universal rule. Indeed many factors need careful consideration for instance the horse’s mouth conformation, anatomy, breed, age, level of training, bit size and not forgetting rider competence.

These are all important factors when deciding on what thickness of mouthpiece is most suitable.

There is a happy medium to be found and if there is insufficient room in the horse’s mouth[i] then fat is not kind. Indeed a bit that is too fat for the limited space within the mouth may even impair the horse’s ability to breathe and swallow.

Materials are also influential and there are many different types used in Often the making of bits, one of which is plastic. This type of material does not slide over the skin as readily as metal and there is always some surface drag. when these bits are used for faster work this excessive friction has been known to cause severe rubbing.

Stainless steel which is still extensively used is an extremely hard and cold metal with very low thermal conductivity this causes many horses to inwardly fixate on the presence of the bit, rather than the signals through the rein.

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