Driving bits- 30 & 45 degree mouthpieces

Was looking at bits and saw 2 Liverpool bits, one with a 30 degree mouthpiece w/ port, the other with a 45 degree mouthpiece with port. Does the port not come into play unless you put pressure on the reins? It looks like it lays flatter on the tongue than regular port bit.

Would love to know about this.

These are the type of bits my pony prefers (Conrad style, with a square port, but a forward arch mullen like a glory bit is tolerable). He has a HUGE tongue and my understanding is that this generally provides tongue relief and the bit primarily acts on the bars. Obviously that isn’t entirely true when you have a leverage bit, but it’s still going to be less than most other bits.

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Thank you for the info!

“Back in the day” when folks started getting more precise in their expectations from Horse, they started studying bit styles and design. Why was “this” bit more used for this activity than that bit. I came up in Western riding with some English thrown in. At the time, the “better” horses went with a more vertical headset, with the “straight-up” California spade bit horse being the epitome of perfection! They actually still had folks training that stuff with years of work, back then!

I attended a week long clinic with a talk about bits that lasted a few hours. It was like the light bulb went on for me!! Bits were “form to function” as explained in detail by the trainer. Spade bit cheeks and mouthpieces were totally spelled out, what the rollers, spoons, thickness of mouthpiece did as a whole in the mouth of the WELL-TRAINED horse. High ports, wide but not high ports, long and short cheeks, reach (above the mouthpiece) choices affect what the horse feel. Cheek shapes change how the mouthpiece hangs from the bridle. With Western loose (but not thrown away like now) reins, bit functioned to the design, rider usually did not affect bit much except in stopping, though neck reining with serious pressure, did change bit in the mouth. Most bits were the H style, solid mouth, fixed cheeks.

Trainer speaking advised us to see how bits worked in the mouth, by laying mouthpiece across our palm, see how it hung. It was very interesting trying his many bits, learning how they worked in the mouth. Thickness of mouthpiece, width and shape of ports, angles of cheeks. Importance of proper width to keep horse happy. We also did some English bits, the common Pelham with various mouthpieces, snaffle bits with various sides, O, D, Full Cheek, Eggbuts, Weymouths.

Basically, thin mouthpieces are harsher, more bite into bars because they have less surface. Thicker mouthpieces are nicer with more metal on the bar surface. Bit with a higher reach (bridle loop above the mouthpiece) will exert more pressure on poll, harsher pull on the mouth from rein pull. Tight or loose curb chain also affects bit pull force.

There have been incredible steps in bit design over the last 20 years! So many choices!! However if staying with traditional Driving bit side like Liverpools, I expect to see the bit side vertical, aligned with horse lips. Seeing a cheek pointing back at the Driver, makes me think (right or wrong) that horse is pulling pretty hard. Some types of horses have a hard time going with head vertical, just not comfortable for long. So those type equines going a little nose out, a bit with upright port aligned with cheeks, will be nagging this horse all the time with curb chain and rein weight pulling cheeks down.

This is where the forward port mouths confuse me, not hanging well on my hand. But horses do like them! Horses do their own thing despite science! Ha ha

I felt the price of the whole Clinic was worth it just for his talk!!


I always enjoy your input Goodhors, thank you! I had never heard of these angle ported bits and was curious to learn about their merits.

It’s the truth that horses will tell us what they like. With my riding horse I went through 4 or 5 bits before figuring out she liked the jointed mouth Kimberwicke bit best. Go figure, that bit goes against every bit purists skin.


thank you for the valuable information. i got a lot of benefits from your info. i applied it.

My horse plays a lot with the bit, and often has an open mouth. Judges will often comment on open mouth. I have tried a few bits, all Liverpools: Bowman Tulip and most recently a Bowman UTR. None have helped his problem. He does this gaping mouth with my very experienced trainer, as well. Any suggestions?

I am presuming you have had the horse dentist visit, do any work needed, and horse still gapes his mouth.

We do what used to be called “mouthing the colts” as a step in training. Before starting training, the horse wears a bridle in the stall with a 2 or 3 piece smooth jointed snaffle with ring sides. Bit is neither thick or thin, no egg butts. We start with short sessions, 30 minutes, work up to a couple hours of wear. Bridle is loosely fitted, don’t make the horse “smile” with a snug fit. I do not use a noseband so he can open wide if he likes, though I do have a throatlatch and browband to help bridle stay in place in case he rubs head.

Horse has water, mine get a bit of hay after a day or two, so they learn to chew with bit on.

My goal is to get horse comfortable wearing bit any time and for long times. Usually horse gets tired of bit chewing, is comfortable just holding the mouthpiece for longer times. Like working an old piece of gum, jaw just gets tired of chewing! Horse may get tongue over bit, but with loose fit, he can usually get tongue back under. Self-training, tongue over is uncomfortable!! You can’t fix tongue over in the middle of a class or competition, he has to live with it. We have NOT found a method to prevent tongue over happening. Tight nosebands, tight fit on bits did not help, plus horse could not fix tongue himself. So we fit his bit a little loose, he picks up the mouthpiece to carry it himself, and he keeps working if he puts tongue over. No reward of stopping. Maybe in a while if he can’t fix his tongue, we will help him Also he has done this before, not going to act horribly with tongue over until it can be fixed.

Often a piece of Fruit-by-the-Foot, Fruit Roll ups on the mouthpiece make bridling easier with good taste! Much less messy than using molasses!!

The only downside to long wearing is that you need to put a finger in mouth so he opens to let go of the bit! They get used to holding mouthpiece up, not bumping teeth on removal can need a cue to open mouth. Banging teeth unbridling WILL make it harder to remove bit the next time.

Mouthing our horses has pretty much removed gaping, bit fussing while using them. Some horses are REALLY oral, almost like needing a pacifier while waiting, in hand, under saddle, hitched. We have had two, a mother and son. Her other colts were never oral about things. They got “loosejaw” bits where the ported mouthpieces could be lifted and dropped with tongue, sliding on the cheeks. Driver can hear “tink, tink, tink” while standing hitched, but no other movement of the body. We figure that outlet is easy to deal with, let them alone! No other fussiness that is much more disturbing.


gets up to add Fruit-by-the-Foot to her grocery list

My girl has decided that she doesn’t want to open up for her bit anymore. Coincidentally we were just about to switch over to the Liverpool anyway so perhaps she’ll like it better as it’s chunkier than the french link half cheek, but if not, this is absolutely the answer to my problem!

Tying a tongue is a very easy way to prevent a horse from getting their tongue over the bit. A wet shoelace works great for this.

Not allowed in competition, so no point In practicing with it.

We have found that keeping bit slightly lower than the common “one wrinkle at lip corners” seems to allow enough room for horse to get tongue returned to proper position by himself during a work. We don’t stop to fix it, no reward for horse. Can’t stop in dressage!! It is very seldom that we actually need to fix the tongue over for the horse anymore.

We lost sympathy after getting an aged gelding who loved doing this trick! He was an expert! His tongue would hang out the side of his mouth and wave at us!! We stop, fix bit, do another circle, tongue out again, fixed again. Finally after fixing tongue 5 times in that many minutes, and him getting tongue out AGAIN before I could even get back in the carriage, husband said we were done stopping or fixing it!! He drove them with tongue flapping, made it halfway around the arena and horsE fixed it himself. No fixing it for him after that, no reward, so he quit doing it.


Does your horse have a thick tongue and low palate? Have you tried a Myler bit? I posted here a few years back about my bit-picky mare. Long list of failures: French links, various ported Liverpools, glory bit, an expensive Ultimate tongue relief bit. Constant fussing, holding head to side, sticking tongue out, getting her tongue over. Finally I went with a Myler comfort snaffle, which solved the problem. I use the wide barrel MB02 mouthpiece, which acts similar to a Mullen when there is even pressure on reins. There is also an MB04 mouthpiece with a low port for more tongue relief. I have the loose ring cheekpieces but they can be made with different style cheekpieces. I use this same bit for riding and driving. I had been reluctant to try it because it seems kind of thin but it turned out to be the golden ticket for my mare. I don’t think Myler bits work for everyone but for those horses that like them it often seems that it is the ONLY bit they will tolerate. Certainly that was the case for my mare!

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