Top Tips: Biting made easy (part 2)

horse biting

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A correctly fitting, well-chosen bit can make a huge difference to your horse’s happiness and way of going.
We take a look at expert opinion on how to determine which bit is right and when it’s time for a change.

Measuring up
To find out what length of bit you need you’ll have to measure your horse’s mouth. Here are two easy methods.

1. Gently put a piece of string in your horse’s mouth and mark it from outer lip to outer lip and then measure that. This will be the mouth size. Stay with that size for a fixed cheek and ass 1/4in for a loose ring.

 2. Alternatively, use a spare bit to measure his mouth. Hold it in place, pull it to one side and mark where his outer lip finished. You may need an extra pair of hands for this. How thick a bit to choose depends on what effect you’re after, what level you’re working at and your horse’s mouth conformation. If you’re unsure, ask a bitting expert for advice.

When it’s time to change your bit

Often we don’t think to change the bit when we run into difficulties with our schooling, believing instead that it’s something we’re doing, or that our horse is simply playing up.

Horses have few ways of telling us they’re unhappy, so issues elsewhere in the body often present through mouth behaviour. Once you’re sure there are no other causes for the behaviour move on to the bit.

As with every other item of tack, bits should be checked regularly for any signs of wear. This means checking any joins in the metal are firmly fixed, ensuring the bevelling where rings or links pass through is smooth, and generally making sure the bit isn’t likely to cause any damage or break.

Signs you need a change

In general, signs that it’s time for a change may include your horse becoming heavy in your hand, leaning on the bit or feeling numb in the hand. He may play with the bit excessively and show some common mouth evasions, including:

  • Drawing his tongue back
  • Sticking his tongue out
  • Putting his tongue over the bit
  • Crossing his jaw
  • Grinding his teeth

As your horse progresses, and depending on his way of going, there are many designs that will generally promote a specific response to common evasions, such as resisting in downward transitions or stiffness on a particular rein, etc.

Some riders will find, as they start to move on to more collected and advanced dressage movements, that they need a little bit more in the hand, and will consider a double bridle at this stage.

Check out this quick and handy video of Marina demonstrating a few different ways to get your horse's correct bit measurement. 

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Content : Your Horse

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