Hardware Upgrade

Not terrible, but could be better.

Back in August when I had my vet take a good look at Dino for any potential soundness issues, we also took a deep dive into the fit of his bit and bridle. 

Currently, I have him in a cob size Collegiate monocrown snaffle bridle, which fits him well for the most part. If we're being picky, the ear cutouts on the crownpiece aren't exactly lined up with his ears, and he could probably use the horse size in that piece, but other than that the fit isn't egregious. 

For the past few years I've been riding him in a super basic, nothing fancy, 5" stainless steel french link eggbutt. It's pretty benign as bits go - not too thin, not too thick, 3-part mouthpiece, and gently rounded cheeks. That eggbutt has got to be one of the most inoffensive bits out there. 

I mean it's not the worst thing ever! 

However, as my vet pointed out, while Dino has been going fine in it up to this point (and honestly, he's gone "fine" in just about everything I've ever put in his mouth. Homeboy is not particular.) the fit of my humble eggbutt isn't ideal for the anatomy of Dino's face and mouth. 

For starters, he's got a tiny mouth. I mean, yes, he is a 14.1hh pony, but he's also got a rather shallow space inside his mouth to put a bit in, and a very fat tongue that squishes out over his bars. While the bit I was using isn't incredibly thick, a thinner mouthpiece might fit that space better. The rings were also a little too large for Dino's face, and the bit was hanging just a smidge too low in his mouth, so that when I did pick up the contact, there was a lot of movement and "noise" in the bit and bridle when the contact on the reins changed. Adding to this was the width of the bit - a 5" works okay, but to really fit his mouth well, Dino should probably be in a 4.75" to minimize this excess movement and stabilize the bit. My vet suggested we snug the bit up in his mouth, and that I look for something with smaller rings, a thinner mouthpiece, and a smaller width. 

So, I did. I maybe felt a minor improvement with the eggbutt snugged up a hole, but nothing earth-shattering. I also tried my vet's bit (perks of having a vet who is also your barn buddy and a fellow dressage rider!) - a Nue Schule "team up" loose ring. Dino went pretty well in this, and while he was more relaxed in the contact than he had been previously, I felt like he went too deep and over-flexed in this bit vs. the eggbutt. 

Lastly, I went shopping. I went to my local Dover store so I could touch and weigh the bits in my hands to get a feel for the differences in shape, thickness, and weight. They didn't have many different "dressage" bits in stock, but I did end up with one that seemed very promising: a Herm Sprenger KK Ultra loose ring bradoon. 

The KK was MUCH lighter than the stainless steel but I had been using, had a thinner mouthpiece, a smoother center link, smaller rings, and was angled differently than the eggbutt currently on my bridle. It was also made of their "Sensogan" metal, which is supposed to be warmer and encourage salivation and all that good stuff. 

At first glance, the fit was vastly improved! I stuck with a 5" in the loose ring to avoid pinching, but the design of this bit still fit closer and snugger than our old eggbutt even though it was the same width. The small rings led to less "noise", and the thinner mouthpiece seemed to fit more comfortably in Dino's mouth. 

Riding him in the bit wasn't the answer to all our problems, but I DID like the way he felt in the contact! When he took up the connection, Dino felt lighter in my hand in a good way - not avoiding the bit, but holding it gently. His mouth was much less busy than it had been, and the bit seemed to encourage the overall less-anxious experience I'd been trying to create for him. Not wanting to throw more money at the bit problem, I stuck with the KK and he's been going pretty darn well in it ever since. As a bonus, I can use this bit in a double bridle configuration as well! Win-win for everyone. 

Has a bit change ever made a dramatic difference for your horse? Or does your creature not care about what's in their mouth?


  1. My creatures are relatively unfussed about what I put in their mouths, but Ruby does seem to go pretty well in my NS Verbindend, while Cinna favors a nathe :) they ride okay in other (generic, dressage-legal) bits, but those are probably their favorites -- based on how they go in them. I'm glad you were able to find something that seems to work a little better for Dino! :)

  2. Bast has a fat tongue too, and I'm pretty sure it's the root of some of our mouth problems. That said, with him thinner is DEFINITELY better. He has so many opinions. We have a bit clinic tomorrow. I'm hoping I can learn more about what he does and does not like! 🤞

  3. I never fussed much about bits for my horses, I figured simple was good and they all would be fine in the HS double jointed bits I own. Then I got my current delicate flower. Last year I was having terrible contact issues, everyone said it was a training issue. I got him into a NS trans-angled lozenge bradoon and it was like the angels sang. Until this year. Then he no longer liked that so i got him the NS turtletop bradoon and he was okay with that. For now. I have a feeling I am going to have to switch back and forth. I would love to go to a bit fitting clinic for professional help. I want one where it truly is a fitting and not a sale pitch..

  4. I have a myler comfort snaffle that Emi very much preferred over some of the other bits I first used on her. I've since used the same bit on Uno and he's much quieter in the bridle than he was when I first got him.

  5. My warmblood mare hates any semblance of a broken mouthpiece and happily goes in a Herm Sprenger Duo. I'm still figuring things out with my OTTB. He's heavy on the front-end, but can be quite light or quite heavy in the bit. Right now we are schooling in a Waterford Dring and foxhunting in a rubber mullen pelham (because brakes are NECESSARY). I have a custom bit on order, but it is taking FOREVER to get made.

  6. Oddly enough, Shiny hates a french link, but likes the lozenge center piece (the one like your new bit). She also hates anything with the more ergonomic shape to it. It's so interesting to see what different horses prefer. Eros likes the anatomic bits, and actually is going great in a leather bit these days.


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