Heather Hyde and Aisha Kirby visited Writtle University on the 12th of November 2019 to provide a talk to 45 first-year students about Bits, Bitting and Bridle Fitting, all of which were from the Equine Behavioural Science, Equine Performance Science, or Equine Sports Rehabilitation and Therapy BSc (Hons) courses.
On arrival at Writtle we were met by Jane Hart, an Equine lecturer specialising in performance, training and veterinary physiotherapy. Jane showed us around the fantastic equine facilities, from its indoor riding and behaviour training schools, to its stud facilities and stables. Heather was particularly impressed with the level of work and funding that has gone into the Writtle Stud, especially as it is the only University in the UK with its own reproductive centre. Heather used to own the largest stud in the North and was eager to see stud management incorporated into the Equine Science Degrees.
We also had the chance to meet Phillip Adams, a lecturer in Veterinary Physiotherapy, who showed us the Equine Therapy Unit and Water Treadmill and discussed with us some of the technologies available at Writtle and their applications in therapy and research. After our tour of the Equestrian unit we met with the Equine Undergraduate Course Scheme Manager Jaime Finch, and lecturer in Equine Nutrition Briony Witherow for afternoon lunch and coffee at the quaint Lordship Tea Rooms before heading back across to the Equestrian Unit to deliver our lecture.
The Bitting talk focussed on relevant head anatomy, mouth management, how the bridle interacted with the head and bit, how bit rotation occurs in the mouth and the physics behind bits that cause poll pressure. Students asked some fantastic questions and really engaged with the lecture, showing understanding or how bitting relates to their University courses and specific topics. Writtle lecturers also pitched some fantastic questions and came away from the talk with some fantastic ideas for future course developments.
After a brief break we progressed onto our practical session, teaching students how to assess the horse for bit and bridle fit. We showed the students how to palpate the horses head to identify sore areas and assess the mouth for injury and conformation before placing on the bridle. We described how certain styles of headpiece can affect the distribution of poll pressure, and how others have a tendency of increasing pressure at the base of the ears. Once the bridle was on, we then showed the lecturers and students how to assess for fit and suitability, as well as checking the fit, suitability and height of the bit. It was great to see the students interact with the process and the lecture, both answering and asking questions, and we are eager to travel down to Writtle again in the future. Thank you to everyone that attended and to the lecturers that organised the talk. Neue Schule are passionate about supporting and educating the future of equestrianism.