General Rules of Thumb for Choosing a Bit

  1. A snaffle is less severe than a curb bit, if both have similar mouthpieces.
  2. A medium thickness of mouthpiece diameter is less severe than thin or thick.
  3. A broken mouthpiece works as a nutcracker does, on the tongue and bars.
  4. A curb bit with a medium port works on the bars of a horse's mouth.
  5. A lower port pulls more on the tongue.
  6. A higher port or wider port relieves tongue pressure and works more on the bars .
  7. Tall ports and spades work on the upper palate and the bars.
  8. Rolled or twisted mouthpieces are more severe than smooth mouthpieces.
  9. The longer the shank, the more leverage available.
  10. A curb strap should have four fingers flat between strap and curb of the horse, with the bit relaxed. Tighten the strap to three  fingers for fast timing. CAUTION: Don't overtighten the curb strap - you lose "feeling" and stress the horse. Too loose and the bit can flip in the horse's mouth.
  11. The bit should pull one wrinkle on each side of the horse's mouth when adjusted to fit the headstall of the bridle. Don't loosen the headstall to the point of allowing the tongue to ride over the mouthpiece of the bit.

With the cost of horse upkeep and with the hard work you put into earning a living, you and your horse deserve the most pleasurable ride possible. Buy a good bit.

Introduction to Bits  |  General Rules for Choosing a Bit  |  Try Something New

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