Bit choices

My new mare is a bit of a conundrum. Lazy and balky but also very sensitive in the mouth. With a bit she’d get her tongue over the bit and throw her head into my face or pop up if you took any contact.

I tried a knock off happy tongue and she didn’t seem to like it. I tried a leather bit and it was a night and day change, instant on the bit much easier to get her to go forward. She’s still a bit mouthy but I think she’s getting used to things still.

I am looking for something that is legal for regular dressage.

I have a horse that, I suspect, due to previous mishandling is very sensitive in the mouth and tends to drop behind the contact. She goes very nicely in a Herm Sprenger KK Ultra 20mm 6" Sensogan bit. Pricey, but I found one on eBay for under $100. Basically a big fat baby link snaffle.

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In general, there’s so much to be decided when bitting a particular horse - mouth size & conformation; tongue’s thickness; bit’s material, cheeks & mouthpiece; type of the bridle; horse preference…I researched for months and tested several bits (via Dressage extensions) before deciding to buy few Sprengers. I second the Kk Ultra bits if your horse likes them - they’re indeed pricey but totally worth it.

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Have you used the leather bit long enough for it to have formed to your horse’s mouth? My old mare loved going in a leather bit for a while (like yours, she was suddenly able to seek contact), and hers formed into a low ported shape. When she decided she didn’t like the leather bit anymore, I got her a Myler MB 02, which has a similar shape to what her leather bit had developed, and she really liked that.

A Myler could be worth a try; a lot of the more sensitive horses seem to like the shape and stability, and there are many dressage-legal models.

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mine is anything but sensitive, but he has a thick tongue, low port and strong opinions on bits, and near the top of his hate list is anything that resembles a “typical” 3 link bit. Mind you 2 piece bits are not great either…

But what does make him happy is anything that gets close to a mullen mouth to a forward arch port. I use an ez control stubben loose ring to show ridden dressage (it’s a locking bean, so effectively an arched mullen, and not too dissimilar from a myler wide barrel snaffle in action). His full bridle has a forward arched port weymouth (neue schule warmblood port) plus a verbinden bradoon (which he thinks is super fine in the FB but is really unacceptable as a stand alone snaffle for reasons I cannot understand, but have learned to accept… because I’m trainable :laughing: )

I’ve played around with all sorts of mouthpieces in driven dressage, and he goes fine in a straight bar mullen, but that really is a strong mouthpiece when paired with leverage (driving bits are generally used on leverage slots to varying degrees), so I’ve played around with a forward arch mullen and a similar mouthpiece as the NS warmblood port (custom bit called a bowman ultimate tongue relief). Bottom line is this horse has taught me an appreciation for the mullen family of bits, and it is worth playing around with those to see if they work for your horse.

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Very interesting! We put my half breed spade bit the other day just for fun. She really seemed to like it. Normally I ride her in a Neue Shule turtle top or a Stubben 4 in 1. In reading more on curb/ spade bits it was mentioned that with the straight bar (mullen, spade, etc.) the horse can use its tongue to keep the bit off the bars. A bit with alot of tongue relief relieves the tongue, but the horse has no way to keep it off the bars. Interesting!

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I found this bit worked particularly well for a horse like this - Neue Schule turtle top flex. Game changer for my girl who was similar. I also suggest looking at their website, they have videos on what type of bit to use for what type of horses connection issues etc, and mouth issues etc.
I’ve replaced all my bits with NS ones because the horses just love them so much.

https://nsbits.com/

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Have you tried a HS Duo or Nathe? I’d think those could be closest to the leather bit. There’s also some newer brands from Europe that I’ve seen recently - Winderen is one and they have a few different materials and Beris is another.

I had to move on from the Duo and Nathe because my young horse was chewing through them.

You might enjoy the Fager bits at https://fagerbitsusa.com.

They have done a lot of research and they seem to LISTEN to the horses. One thing I have learned to appreciate with their double jointed bits is that the center lozenge, plate, or dog-bone with a roller, are less wide from side to side.

Horses who will protest mightily and vehemently when I use a normal three piece mouthpiece settle down, accept the bit, and stop fussing as much in general.

I only use Fager bits right now because the horses really seem to prefer them. They come either in titanium or in sweet iron mouthpieces, the cheek pieces are stainless steel.

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I could have written this about one of mine - I have her in a baucher bit, single joint. I tried HS Duo, Nathe, Fager, and NS - I have a couple horses in these bits but she seems best in the baucher. I believe she likes the stability and the quietness… and I am not someone who typically looks to a single joint bit.

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I was recommended the turtle top tactio but was having a hard time finding it. Do you feel it’s really made differently? It’s expensive for a bean with a fancy name if it’s not.

I’ve switched to a Turtle Tactio on my 5 year old. It is definitely made differently. It is flatter through the center and the bean sort of locks in. The idea is that it flattens out the tongue a bit so that it cushions the bars. I’m not 100% sold on it, but my mare is starting to go to the contact a little more, so I’m going to stick with it awhile. If you buy it from The Horse Bit Shop in the UK, the code FBREC10 will get you 10% off.

Yes my horses really improved, and they werent in a crappy bit to start. One was going in a Sprenger RS Dynamic sensogan before. She tosses her head every now and then from tension (shes still green) and on occasion will loll her tongue around or out. When I switched to the NS she went to toss her head, then decided not to, and has only tossed her head a handful of times since the switch whereas it would be a handful or two times per ride previously. The bit locks in one direction, but not side to side. Its pretty cool. That is the Turtle Top flex I have though, not the Turtle Tactio, I havent used one of those yet they weren’t the type I needed. I used their website to determine which bit I needed for this mare and another and both have improved the contact immensely.

Another for the Neue Shule turtle top

When my horse was getting started and kept putting his tongue over the bit we went to a Myler wide barrel and it worked great.

I have a sensitive, light, fleshy tongued horse with little to no room in his mouth. He really likes the Fager Lilly bit - fixed ring. He prefers a single joint, and isn’t totally sold on mullen mouth bits so this is a nice combo of the two. It locks upwards and forwards, so no nutcracker sensation. The titanium is light, warms up fast, and doesn’t have a taste like some metals do.

Thought about revamping his double set up (kk ultra and NS Mors l’hotte) but haven’t made that investment yet and he goes well enough in the set up. Plus we primarily ride in the snaffle. He just doesn’t need a double for most of his work.

@CanteringCarrot,

The horses I ride have so far “told” me they to not like the Fager tongue relief bits with my hands, because of my MS I have big problems sometimes with where my hands are horizontally. I am SO GLAD you like the Lilly fixed ring, I am reserving mine for occasional variety to avoid total boredom.

The two horses I ride really like my double bridles with the Fager bits. They seem to appreciated the no longer available Fager Victoria mullen mouth Weymouth, and they seem to enjoy the Fager Alice titanium bradoonm three piece dog-bone with a center roller.

At one stable the owner told me that she no longer wanted me to ride her elderly horse with problems with just a snaffle, she wanted me to go on using my double bridle because this arthritic elderly mare moves so much better with it. Recently I changed this mare from the Fager Victoria mullen mouth Weymouth to the Elisabeth titanium Weymouth with a tiny vertical port.

At the other stable I ride an elderly QH gelding with treated navicular disease (good farrier) and I am using the Fager Victoria titanium Weymouth and the Fager Alice titanium bradoon. My riding teacher is there, and she is now starting to talk about me riding her personal horse (Arab gelding with some problems) in lessons for a while just so she can see how he does in a double bridle. He is already on a titanium Kimberwick and he goes on “strike” if asked to wear a bit of any other metal. She told me that when that time comes I should just bring my double bridle with the Fager titanium bits I use on my current lesson horse and put it on her horse (same width mouth.)

One interesting thing about the Fager bits is how they recommend selecting the bits for the double bridle, and this is not the “normal” way. Fager recommends that the WEYMOUTH be the widest of the two bits, between half a cm. and 1 cm. wider than the bradoon. This is so that the “purchase” of the Weymouth does not interfere with the action of the bradoon. This looks quite odd to my eyes, but it does work, especially with horses with short “smiles.” The horses fuss at my hands less when I do the double bridle bits this way.

With the wider Weymouth it is more possible to use the regular sized ring Fager snaffles as the bradoon, so you could even experiment with using the Lilly as the bradoon since none of the Fager bradoons work in exactly the same way as the Lilly.

I love my Fager double bridle bits so much I just bought three varieties of the Fager Weymouths for the gelding. I already have two for the mare and I am planning on buying the other two. Fager has promised to make a new “mullen mouth” Weymouth, the Diane, which has a taller center arch than the now discontinued Victoria, and I plan on getting one for each horse.

At this stage of my life, 70 years old and crippled with MS, I get the most enjoyment out of riding horses with the double bridle. The horses understand my hand aids better, the horses like playing calmly with both bits, the horses show no fear of the bits, and they are just a little bit more willing to obey all my aids, hand, leg, seat and weight.

I now think that just by carrying a Weymouth curb in their mouths even with sagging reins, the horses are collecting themselves slightly, transferring their weight from their forehands to their hindquarters. Nothing really overt but their front feet are not landing as hard and the ladies watching me ride their horses really like this.

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Ooh, this is all very interesting, thank you! I put my mare in a Fager single joint Baucher a couple months ago, and have been starting to think about a double bridle. I love the idea of the titanium bits for a double to reduce the weight. Since I’m thinking of just lightly playing with the double at this point, I might just get their titanium weymouth and use my Baucher as the bradoon for the time-being. That will make the up-front cost much easier to swallow!

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The Turtle Tactio is a little differently shaped than the regular Turtle Top. It is thinner across the bars than on the tongue, so it does seem to give some relief for the bars. I use it with my mare who was not thrilled with several other bits: she hated the Myler, tolerated the HS Dynamic. But the Turtle Tactio she really likes.

Pricey, but worth it.

@outerbanks77,

When I got back into riding with a double bridle I was using stainless steel bits. I am quite weak (MS) and I found it hard to get the bridle up to the horse’s head to put it on. That made me clumsier when I put the bridle on and took a chunk of my very limited reserves of energy. I would look at the bridle wondering what I could do, I had already reduced the weight of the bridle (cutting off the Micklem bridle chin strap), but with two reins, two bits, curb chain and lip strap I found the double bridle so much heavier and I wondered how that might be affecting the horses I ride.

However with the titanium double bridle bits I no longer have this problem. I no longer worry about how the bridle’s weight might affect how the horse moves. The horses certainly do not seem to mind having a lighter bridle on their head and lighter weight bits in their mouths.