A Bit Crazy, Part 1

I find bits completely fascinating. It's the one tack item I always hoard, and the thing I miss the most about riding in a barn with 30+ horses. Everyone had something different that worked for them. While I'd love to experiment and play with a million different kinds of bits, between Runkle and Indy I had developed a kind of system towards bit acceptance.

Bit guards are stupid
I started with a Happy Mouth loose ring. This was at the suggestion of my trainer, who has done a lot more baby TB's than I ever have, and I was really pleased with the results. Runkle loved to curl behind the bit, and this actually got his nose in front of his poll. Indy was super bouncy and inconsistent, so the mullen helped give him somewhere to rest his lughead. I'm not a huge fan of loose rings in general. I feel like they always pinch, and bit guards do not fit well around happy mouths!

When they needed more subtlety from a bit, I moved on to a single jointed happy mouth eggbutt. Runkle loved this bit, and I would've kept him in it forever, but he also chewed the absolute piss out of it. In two months it was destroyed beyond being usable, even though I was wrapping and rewrapping it with sealtex.

The single jointed happy mouth. RIP.
Then they both moved on to a french link eggbutt, and that's where they stayed. Runkle got some more creative bits for jumping, because he loved to tuck his nose to his chest and pull like an ox which was exhausting and annoying. I had him in a full cheek waterford for awhile, but for our first and last horse trial he went in a slow twist full cheek french link. I still kiiiind of got run off with. We had plans to try him in a kimberwicke but he never gave us the chance (which I'm kind of annoyed about, I think the kimberwicke would've worked a treat because it's a stubborn pony bit and he was a STUBBORN PONY).

When I got Spicy I started the same program, but I couldn't get him past the mullen. And he was never super happy with the mullen. The best I ever got was okay, but there was a lot of chomping and this horse is nothing if not rigid. Rigid in the jaw, rigid in his withers. When he gets anxious or tense, he turns into A ROCK. He got super foamy but it was just stress. I tried other mullen mouths, and other bits in my box, and he was just kind of the same.

The day we bumped up to the slow twist.
The "oh my god, I lived!" smile.

What do you do when you think your horse needs a new bit? What does it feel like when they need a change? Do you decide based on your own knowledge, ask a learned person, or some combination?

I figured it would sort itself out, so I tabled it and went to ground work camp. And then I did what most nerds do, I bought a book at my local used bookstore...

Bit tastes like apples. 5 stars.
To be continued!


  1. I usually try something new if I feel like the bit isn't completely working. I'm a huge believer in the fact that most bit acceptance issues are related to either a) the rider's hands b) the bit actually hurting the horse (think pressing on the roof of the mouth or something). It takes time for a horse to develop trust with previously crappy hands, so evaluating the issues takes a lot of time for me. Interested to hear what happened for you!

  2. I usually start with my own knowledge, and if I'm still striking out I ask a knowledgeable friend or trainer. I'm still hunting for the right bit to jump Eros in. The ones I really want to try are expensive though, so it's hard to cough up 90 to 100 bucks just to try, ya know? And there are a few places you can rent them, but it's just a lot to go through... Guess I should stop being lazy and commit to that though!

  3. Blah I play around with a lot of stuff based on my (fairly limited) knowledge base and whatever issue I am facing. I am also not afraid to change it up and "see where things are at" with a simple bit. Horses are individuals, so they tend to like what they like. As a result... I have a "war chest" of 5.5" bits... even though my horse goes 99.9% of the time in a double jointed baucher or the Myler with no port.

  4. I try to figure it out by doing research. I saw a Boucher bit at the clinic that I’m intrigued about

  5. I'm currently running through different options, I have a lot of good options but none of them are great, though in a couple of months with more schooling they might be great- I dunno. this shit takes too much time lol

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