Bitting Up

Tack Room Inspector is not impressed.
When it comes to bits, I generally take the philosophy of, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The majority of horses I've ridden in my life went in some type of snaffle, and if they didn't, I generally didn't get any say in what type of bit I thought they should go in. When I got Dino, he was going in a very simple single-joint D ring, and while I experimented a little with a Waterford at some point (long story short: pony needed more hind end strength, not a different bit), eventually I switched him to a French Link Eggbutt to help encourage him to hold the bit a little better, and have just kept him in that bit ever since. Dressage, jumping, trail riding, hunting, he goes in that French Link. It works for us.

Until now, that is.

Since the end of hunting season this past winter, I'd been toying with the idea of bitting up for foxhunting. Dino is VERY enthusiastic about being in the hunt field, and I found myself having to use some very strong rein aids to keep him at my preferred speed. I was always able to keep him under control, but it took a lot of effort, and I'm not a fan of having to hang on my pony's face for hours on end.

Once our eventing season began and Dino treated me to his Runaway Train Impression on cross country and during our gallops at home, I pretty much had my mind made up to put him in something a with a little more bite than our standard French Link. I wanted to be able to give an effective half halt and then leave him alone, and not have to resort to a bicep-bulging pulley rein when he got too strong on course.

That said, I also didn't think that a leverage bit was quite the right answer. Dino's default is, generally, to get behind the leg and/or behind the bridle, and I didn't want a bit with so much action that it would give him an excuse to get balky or hide behind it. A change in mouthpiece seemed like the right place to start, so I picked up an inexpensive single-jointed slow twist version of the bit he already goes in.

I tested it out while galloping at home earlier this week, and Dino was an absolute peach in the slow twist. My half halts went all the way through, and I could get in, get out, and soften without having to hang on for dear life or rip his cute little face off. Perfect!

It may not be a permanent change, but it definitely serves our purposes for now. Plus, it gives me an excuse to buy a new (used) bridle to put it on, because changing bits is a huge pain in the neck, and no one wants to be doing that all the time.

Yay shopping!

Do you use different bits for different phases or activities? Or does your horse go in the same bit all the time?


  1. Sounds like a great choice for you both. I like collecting bits but mostly I just loan them to my friends, haha.

  2. I've done it. Zero regrets.

    This time of year, Tris does not school outside without that bit until such time as he proves he has brain matter between his ears. We're not there yet. It is not a subtle bit but he is not a subtle horse. When I need it, I NEED it. I just have to be careful/clear about my goals & expectations for schooling in it. He's not going to get light and soft and chewy and on the bit in a kimberwicke. He is going to go around politely and quietly and stop cold when I tell him to. That's what I need right now.

  3. Sounds like an educated and logical next step. Glad it's working for you! I finally stopped collecting weird bits and now own almost exclusively french link snaffles, but I have just about every metal or style you can think of haha.

  4. We XC in a Dr Bristol because otherwise I'd pretty much only have steering...

  5. Yay! I'm so glad you found an option that works for you so you can stay light. Not pulling is the goal of bitting up after all! I had to put Pig in a pelham for gallops when we started galloping with other horses. His inner racehorse got a bit strong for me. That was so rarely needed that I usually just swapped bits, though. Now we regularly switch back and forth between the double and snaffle...

  6. there's definitely a sense of 'zen' when you find the right bit for pony and person purposes! glad you found what works for you and Dino! i'm hopeful that i've found a good solution for charles too... only time will tell tho! and like you say, they kinda change and evolve anyway

  7. Sounds like a smart plan to me. I think a little stronger bit is definitely preferable to having to hang on your pony's face or get rough with him.
    Most of my horses used slightly more bit to show in than they do at home. Jamp rides in a french link three ring generally, but I can't show in the eq or hunters with it, so he shows in a slow twist D. When Rio was a show horse, he showed in a metal loose ring for the jumpers or a plain D in the hunters, but wore a rubber loose ring at home. (Bitless now in his retirement years!)

  8. Leo goes in a Nathe for everything...although if we ever make it to cross country I would definitely bit up at least the first time because I have a feeling that he'd just want to gallop indefinitely.

  9. most times just a minor change works wonders. I had to switch to a baucher on Remus not cause he was speedy but because he would lean on the french link loose ring he was in. I still put that on occasionally but actually have the same baucher bit on both my bridles for now. And there is stopping power the days I need it. Again I like the fact you reach, they respond and then dont have to hang on to the bit. I hate that and my shoulders hate that. Dino's face cracks me up in the photo, like if i hide all these what would she do? He is so stinking cute. Glad you found something. He is a smart pony so I hope it helps and works for a while!!

  10. Moe is notoriously bad at listening to rein aids during XC; I tried a slow twist on him, but he was exactly the same as he was in his regular single-jointed D. I tried a kimberwicke, and that seemed to be too much! He was super backed off and very confused. At this point, I'll probably just go back to the regular D because we're both used to it.

    Gina hunts in a double-jointed eggbutt, which works for most of the season. I put her in a 2-ring mullen mouth elevator last season for a couple of hunts, which didn't make much of a difference. She probably needs the kimberwicke!

  11. Heck yes for finding a new option in short order! Griffin and I are still tweaking possibilities for jumping.

  12. I've done several bit changes on Miles. Now he has a flatting bit for ringwork (happy mouth D) and the waterford for everything else.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts