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Walk into any tack store and you will discover a wall of bits in every shape, size, and shank length imaginable. If you don’t understand how bits work, choosing the right one for your horse can be overwhelming. Those of you who know me know that I tend to keep it simple, but it is still good to understand how different types of bits function and why they are designed the way they are. That is whay I aim to do in this week’s video! I will describe the two main categories that bits fall into – direct pressure and leverage, then show you several examples of each. We will even use a real horse jaw bone to examine where and how the bit applies pressure in your horse’s mouth. After you watch the video, write a comment telling me what kind of bit you use and if you like it or you want to try a new one!


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23 Responses

  1. Hi Callie,
    Thank you so much for this video on the various types of bits. We have discussed how overwhelming the “wall of bits” can be when you walk into any tack store. Your explanation of the difference between snaffle and leverage bits was enlighting and showing how the bits operated in the sample horse jaw was great! I also clicked over to your Happy Horse Reviews website and the video on the brideless bit was interesting. I am new to horsemanship and these topics of information on all things related to equestrian care and riding help me gain valuable insight and make the best choices for my horse.

    1. Sorry…I meant bitless bridle in the above post..LOL! I don’t know a horse that would keep the bit in it’s mouth without the bridle!!

  2. Thanks for your video, great timing as i have just purchased a french link eggbutt to trial with my new mare. Keen to see how it goes. I have mostly used plain old eggbutt snaffes with sweet iron before but this one is gold plated… Have you covered the various metals in any of your videos? Also, would be interesting to hear more about the action of the different bridles such as the crank nose band, hanovarien, bitless, ect.
    Lovn your videos

    1. Hi Megan, I haven’t covered different metals in any videos, but great suggestion! I would have to do a little more reseach first, though. I also appreciate the second suggestion for understanding the action of different bridles and nosebands – that I can do!

  3. Hi Callie, Every one of your videos have been so valuable!!
    I recently changed her bit from an eggbutt snaffle to a twisted snaffle bit at the suggestion of her trainer. It was brought to my attention by my vet during her dental cleaning apt. that she developed soars at the corners of her mouth. If she didn’t see that, how would I know the bit was to harsh? What are some of the signs I would look for to see if she is comfortable in her bit.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Fran, Glad you are enjoying them! To answer your question, if a horse is evasive of the bit (throwing their head, going “behind the bit”, or bracing when you take a feel of the reins) these can all be signs that the bit is too harsh. Also, remember that is not just the structure of the mouthpiece that makes a bit harsh. It is also how that bit is used. If your horse is developing sores from the bit, I could focus on teaching her to be more light in the bridle, as well as switching to a milder mouthpiece.

  4. Hi, again grait video 🙂 I also like to keep it simpel and try to work out the problem differently first, but I do have some issues when going out on the trail sometimes. When we canter, she sometimes runs off, ignoring almost everything I do (sit back, pull the rains, try to get her attention and pull shortly hard on the rains). To get her to stop or slow down I have to pull her head sideways, go left/right or where possible a small cirkel. One time she slipped because I was trying to pull her head to the side. Since all this is rather dangerous when on trail (or sometimes when approaching a road) I might want to use a stronger bit in this context. Mayve a leverage bit might help? What do you think? Should I try to solve it differently first?

    1. Hi Sarah,
      You could use a stronger bit times where you are trail riding and know you will be going faster. The severity of a bit is not determined by the bit itself but how it is used. So if you are aware of when you are using bit pressure and always releasing immediatly on the right response, then using a stronger bit for safetly in some circumstances should not affect your horse in a negative way.

  5. Hi, Callie!
    Any recommendations on Bitless bridles? Do you use them? The horse I’m leasing was developing a hard mouth from inexperienced riders pulling on a Kimberwicke. By the time I leased him, he was in a side pull hackamore. He’s doing really well in that with me and we’ve both come far in the last year (thanks for your course. It helped a ton!). I’m considering buying him and I’d like to continue bitless. What do you think of the Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle and others of that type?

    1. Hi Brooks, I own a few bitless bridles now, I like the Dr. Cooks bridles for teaching riders but not for teaching horses. What I mean by that is the Dr. Cook provides kind of a dull pressure to the whole head – the increase and the release of pressure are slow so are good for new riders with unsteady hands, but not the best for providing cues and feedback and precise pressure for training. I recently purchased an english style sidepull and I like that a lot – it is very simple, and the release of the pressure is instant instead of a bit delayed as it is with the Dr. Cook.

  6. Hi, I find that I choose softer, milder more simple bits as my seat is improving and my horse more balanced as a result. I like more and more the French three pease bits vith a small middle peace.

  7. Hi Callie,
    I threw away my two Tom Thumb bits and bought two Korsteel 3 piece copper loose ring snaffles. I was wondering if you recommend rubber bit guards with the loose ring snaffles you prefer to use?

    1. Hi Carla,
      I don’t often use rubber bit guards, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with them, they can help prevent pinching and prevent the bit sliding through the horse’s mouth.

  8. I have no idea if my bit is what I need. . .I don’t want my horse to feel forced to do what I want. I want him to “know” what I’m asking for and learn the correct response or behavior.
    My boy is a 17.3 Warmblood with a beautiful disposition . He’s spooky but a sweetheart. He’s about 1600 lb. and not the easiest to stop. I am working on using my seat and body position to communicate rather than pulling on his mouth. He is sensitive both emotionally and physically. I am a novice at selecting bits. I’ve always relied on my trainer to tell me. I’ve watched countless videos and am still not sure what would be best.

    1. Hi Mary Ann, what are you riding him in now? I would start with just a simple snaffle and focus on making sure he understands the responses you want, just as you said in your comment. Look for ways to trigger the behavior without using as much bit pressure, for example asking for the stop as you are approaching a fence, where the fence will help trigger the slow down and stop

    1. Leah, I believe Callie may have taken that video down in hopes of being able to re-do it at some point…

      -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

      1. I was just getting ready to watch this video on bits and it is unavailable. I would love for you to do a video on bits…thinking of trying a different one just for the comparison and am interesting in learning more about the various types.

        1. Nancy, I believe it is on the list to re-do this in the future. Remember you can email us questions for Balanced Riding Course calls!

          -Julia Burdy, CRK Training Community Manager

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