Friday, 29 May 2015

All About - Bits (Part 2)



Following on from my first bit blog and last week's blog about Double Bridles this week I want to talk about the different types of bits available. 

 
I used this quote before - it is something I think we all need to bear in mind!

 
In my first blog about bits I talked about the pressure points which they are designed to act on:
  • The tongue 
  • The bars (the flesh covered jaw bone between the front and back teeth) where the bit rests 
  • The lips 
  • The curb groove (chin groove) 
  • The poll 
  • The nose 
  • The roof of the mouth
The Snaffle is the most commonly used and most widely varied bit available but there are others that are relatively common.

The Pelham
This combined bit is often used instead of a double bridle.   It is simpler because there is only 1 mouthpiece but it is designed to have the combined action of the two bits.  It has attachments for 2 reins and a curb chain.  It can give increased control but not for all horses as some learn to over bend or lean on them.  In many ways it cannot replace the double as the specific actions of the 2 bits are limited when combined!  See last week's blog for more information about double bridle bit action.

The long cheek gives the fulcrum action that the Weymouth bit gives a double bridle.  So when used with 2 reins pressure on the bottom rein will cause pressure on the poll and the curb groove.  As with the snaffle there are several mouthpiece varieties available.

 Straight Mouth



Jointed


French Link
 
 
 
 Ported

It is possible to use only one rein as 'roundings' can be purchased to link the 2 sections together.   This however, will limit the poll and curb action of the bit.



The Kimblewick
This is a type of Pelham, it has a curb chain and some can be used with 2 reins.  The mouthpiece is positioned above the centre of the 'rings' which creates some leverage. The rings for the bridle attachments are separate which can put mild pressure on the poll.  Like the Pelham they can have a variety of mouthpieces.  


 
The slots in the bit rings allow 2 pairs of reins to be used giving more of a double bridle feel.


The Gag
In some ways these look similar to the snaffle, however, they  raise the head by applying more pressure to the corners of the mouth.  They also apply some pressure to the poll.  These bits have special cheekpieces which attach to the headpiece of a bridle.  These cheekpieces pass through holes in the bit rings and attach directly to the reins.  This means that in inexperienced hands the bit will be 'hauled' up high in the horse's mouth.  



Ideally, these bits should be used with 2 pairs of reins, 1 pair attached to the bit rings as usual and 1pair attached to the gag cheek pieces.  This will then allow the rider to use the bit as a normal snaffle  until some more control or lifting is needed when the gag rein is used.

There are many new varieties of gag's available now and each should ideally be used with 2 pairs of reins! 

 
These 2 Dutch gag's should be used with a snaffle rein attached to the big ring and another rein attached to the bottom ring.  The cheekpieces are attached to the small top ring.  The bit pictured below has the option for more leverage if using the bottom ring.




Bitless Bridles
These are designed to control a horse by applying pressure on the nose and curb groove. They can be quite strong and are useful for horses' who may have damaged their mouths or dislike bits.  There are many options available now.



Biting is a complicated and confusing topic so always try to get someone really knowledgeable (who knows you and your horse) to advise you.  It is worth remembering that riding with 2 reins is difficult and takes practice.  Choose the simplest, kindest bit that you can whilst ensuring that you have control! 

Did you see this weeks' video?  'Riding In Review Tag' 
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Until next time!
Jo

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