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Bits, Bits, and More Bits! Advice for a new bit?

I am currently trying to find a new bit for my sensitive, 14hand mare. She is currently being ridden in a Happy Mouth Racing Dee double jointed snaffle with roller. When I purchased her, she was being ridden in a Dr. Bristol D-ring snaffle which she’d fight and fuss with. She is much quieter in the mouth with the Happy Mouth but I feel as if there might be something better for her. She’s very sensitive in the mouth and will fight/lock up when the bit is too much for her. Currently, she has been much softer and relaxed with the bit but still chomps on it throughout the ride/lunging session, especially at the beginning. At times she will throw her head up when she feels pressure on the bit, especially at the canter. Any suggestions on what bits to try out?

She may be chomping because she’s messing with the roller on her bit. I personally use standard snaffle D-rings with copper coating on all my horses unless they need something different. i would probably try something like that, and remember the thinner the bit the harsher it is.

on a side note, if your horse gets fussing or throws her head every time you have contact you might to work on her reaching into your hands, or long and low. So she’ll be stretching out her neck to have contact with you, as long as your hands stay silent and flexible. It’s a long process so I would either do some reading on it or have a trainer (or a trainer you already have) help with that. Of you could lunge her with side reins.

the Right bit makes a huge difference so just remember to be patient and keep trying new bits until you find your fit. If you have a trainer that’ll let you borrow bits until you can buy the right one that’d be better than buying a bunch of bits!!

Have you thought about going bitless? Maybe she would be happier in a sidepull.

@Hopeless I have and did try a Dr. Cooke’s Bitless Bridle. Initially, she seemed to enjoy it but then got very nervous and reluctant after a few rides. I thinks she prefers the ‘comforting’ and familiar aspect of a gentle bit with light, consistent pressure.

@OdieJump I’ve been working with her on long and low as that’s something she struggles with a lot. We’ve made a lot of progress in her acceptance of contact and in developing her topline. I’m not sure if there is anything softer/gentler that I could try? I’ve heard great things about Sealtex latex bandages. Thoughts? At first I thought it was her messing with the roller but I’ve noticed that the roller doesn’t spin easily and will squeak if it’s moved, which it doesn’t in her mouth, so I’m thinking it’s her being fussy and chomping on it. I’ve tried a simple d-ring with a copper mouthpiece but she didn’t seem to like the copper - was shaking her head and very restless/jiggy.

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Have you tried a Nathe mullen mouth?

@Charanga2011 I haven’t but I’ll definitely look into it! Thank you for the suggestion! It sounds promising

Youre heading in the right direction for sure, maybe a few other things to try is to change the tightness of the bit. My general rule is you should see two wrinkles on each side of the horses mouth. Of course don’t make it too tight or loose but if you can adjust it slightly. Along with this make sure the bit isn’t too long and sticking out her mouth or too short. Another thing to try is a hacklemore (or bitless bridle) I have a friend that shows her horse in hunter jumper in a bitless bridle. The last thing I would try and checking her teeth, her teeth may need to be floated and is causing her pain. If you try all of these things and nothing is helping then there could be other things cause pain, such as a poorly fitting saddle, arthritic pain, the list is honestly endless. You may just want a full vet check (though they are kind of expensive so I like to save them for last if at all)

maybe he even try riding her in a halter (if you feel safe enough) just see how she reacts and responds to that, that would be a good first step.

Also I’ve never wrapped up my bit so I don’t have any experince with it though I’m not sure it would make any difference, but it really just depends on the horse

I’ve had good luck with the Bomber Happy Tongue bit with my sensitive, bit-hating, bit-chomping mule. I’ve tried the D-ring and loose ring and like the loose ring better for this mule just because it’s a little lighter and more moveable in his mouth.

I buy them from Tato’s via their web site. They have great customer service, always call me to talk about my order before they fill it to make sure I really know what I want, which I suppose might annoy some folks, but I appreciate it.


I would try a single jointed bit, like this one https://www.doversaddlery.com/jointed-rubber-hunter-dee/p/X1-01623/ I find most horses like French links because the don’t pinch, but every once in a while you run across a horse that really prefers the simplicity of the single jointed bit. I think it moves less and that is why they like it.
Or a Mullen mouth, like others have said.

Also, get her teeth floated if you haven’t recently. Some horses need it done as much as every 6 months.

This is an interesting comment. I recently tightened my horse’s bit and I think he prefers it a bit tighter. I was going by the wrinkles, but he has a really wrinkly mouth so I think 2 wrinkles was actually a bit too loose! He’s much more wiling to reach into it now.

If you haven’t tried a french link, I would recommend giving it a shot. I’ve tried a bunch of different things with my horse and keep going back to it. It’s gentler than the Dr Bristol and less fussy than the roller.

Two things.

  1. Are you sure it’s bit-related? I ask because my big mare will sometimes chomp and throw her head around if she is sore in the back end. Asking her to sit (like, at the canter, for example) will sometimes exacerbate things and what she’s really saying is “ow, my butt hurts” not “ow, this ^%$#@ing bit”.

  2. Assuming it is the bit, check to see if your mare has a low palette. If she does, you are going to want something uncomplicated in there–anything with a joint is going to hit the roof of her mouth. Mullens can work wonders in horses with low palettes, but can often take away the ability for fine control. I use a Myler jointed mullen on the mare above (who also has a low palette) and it’s been nothing short of magical.


The joints in that bit allow for a slight curve and give you the ability to use your reins independently, but there is no crack to the bit, so it’s not going to bump the roof of her mouth.

I agree with the thought on trying a straight nathe. I have a super fussy gelding who is very unwilling to reach into contact and the nathe has helped immensely.

Also, keep in mind that the bit rings make a difference, too, not just the mouthpiece. I found that swapping from a d-ring to a loose ring made a big difference in his relaxation, so we school in a loose ring and save the d-ring just for the show ring.

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I’ve had tremendous success with the neue schule verbindend. Horses really seek the contact in this bit and its a very gentle and comfortable bit. We offer a trial on it https://www.argentoeq.com/collections/bit-trials/products/verbindend-loose-ring

Also make sure your not locking your elbows at the canter but that your hands continue with her.

She has her teeth floated every October so that shouldn’t be an issue. When I take her in for spring vaccines, I’ll have them check her palette and her back. I am also considering having a massage therapist or chiropractor out.
She’s always been a little finicky with bits and bridles but I now have a good list of what to try! Thanks! Also, any suggestions on bridles? Right now I have her in a padded monocrown from Dover (she used to be in a plain, fancy stitched hunter bridle) and she really rubs her nose/face a lot during and after rides, even with the noseband very loose (as loose as safely possible). I was considering trying a Micklem but she doesn’t need the flash plus I can’t show in one. Also, the one she’s in now is super chunky and heavy looking on her. Suggestions?

Lots of good suggestions about the bit. Don’t forget that canter problems frequently stem from saddle fit problems…

I have had the saddle fit checked. It’s pretty good so I just use a shimmed correction pad when needed. She seems happy thus far. I have been looking into getting a new saddle but have to save up because I am still a very broke student. :lol:

Others have said it, and I will agree. IME most horses who are “finicky with bits” have training or veterinary issues.