A ‘BIT’ Terminology
- Purchase – This is the part of the bit that is above the mouthpiece. A shot purchase will cause quicker reactions when pulling on the reins.
- Shank – The part of the bit that is below the mouthpiece, this gives leverage on the mouthpiece. A shorter shank will resort in less control while a longer shank proves to give more control.
- Cheeks – This refers to the sides of the bit and includes both the purchase and shank.
- Mouthpiece – The part of the bit that goes in the horse’s mouth.
Types of mouthpieces
- Snaffle – Broken in the middle and one of the most common mouthpieces.
- Three-piece snaffle – Broken in two places, to work on different places on the bars than a regular snaffle.
- Double twisted wire snaffle – Made up of two small snaffles which are broken off-centre from another.
- Chain mouthpiece – This does not work on the bars as a snaffle, but on the corners of the mouth.
- Solid mouthpiece– Any mouthpiece that is not broken
- Bars – Is what rests on the horse’s bars (gums behind the teeth).
- Port – This rests on the tongue. There are high, medium and low port bits, the closer the bars are together, the more severe and they are apart, the less severe the mouthpiece.
- Mullen relief – A forward curve to the mouthpiece gives even pressure across the mouth and causes a smoother reaction from the horse.
- Swivel mouthpiece – This mouthpiece swivels on the shank allowing independent shank action and gives the mouthpiece a different action than a solid constructed bit.
- Curb bit – rotation in mouth-down, up on curb chain, pressure on poll.
Some more terminology
- Curb Chain Pressure – Varies from one bit to another, it sets the timing of the bit, with a loose curb chain being slower and a tight curb chain giving faster timing.
- Metal used in mouthpieces
- Copper – This metal causes a horses’ mouth to salivate which allows the mouth to stay soft and usable to the rider.
- Sweet iron – This is intended to rust and actually does have a sweet taste to it as rusting occurs.
- Stainless steel – gives a clean, neat look to any mouthpiece.
- The ‘feel of the bit’ – not only what the horse feels when the rider pulls on the reins; but also what the rider feels.
- Timing – the amount of time required from the point when the reins are pulled until the bit has done as much it can do.
Levels of Training for Bits
When choosing a bit it is important to know for what purpose you are buying the bit. Below are the different levels of training with a bit.
Level 1 – these bits are designed for use with horses with little or no training; they teach a horse to follow and yield to pressure.
Level 1 – Transition 1 – These bits are designed to continue lateral flexation and proper head set.
Level 2 – these bits are designed for use with horses with some basic training but nees to continue lateral flexion, proper head set.
Level 2 Transition 2 – this style is the next step up to offer more leverage and advance training
Level 3 – this style final cheek in this series is desined for the well-broke performance horse or touch-mouthed older horses where the rider needs more control.