Learning more about the structure of the horse’s mouth and how the horse reacts to pressure in different areas has resulted in the selection of available bits expanding dramatically over the last 20 years. Much research and thought has gone into the design of new bits to make them as comfortable for the horse as possible. We recently looked at some popular mouthpieces – single break, double break, elliptical and French Link – and here will look at Semi-Broken; Solid, Happy Tongue & Mullen.
A semi broken mouth piece is one that is limited in how much it is able to close. Mouth pieces with a central barrel are a good example of semi broken. The limited movement of the mouth piece reduces the squeezing pressure on the bars. These mouth pieces can spread pressure out more evenly over the mouth, depending on their construction.
The Lock Up (pictured) is a good example of a semi broken mouth piece. It is designed to remove any squeezing pressure on the bars and spread the pressure out over the mouth, while still allowing for independent lateral aids. What seems to be a small change, has completely changed how the mouth piece works and what pressure it uses to communicate with the horse.
For the Ultra Comfy Lock Up, we took a standard Lock Up and angled it on the sides, changing and softening the pressure.
The angle allows the mouth piece to follow the shape of the mouth better, this reduces tongue pressure by going up and over the tongue instead of straight across the tongue.
A solid mouth piece can be either ported, curved or straight. The less curve the mouth piece has, the stronger it becomes. The height, thickness and width of the port play a role in the pressure that is created. A narrow, high port will not provide much tongue relief and could place some pressure on the palate, if this is combined with a port that is made from thick material, we will almost certainly see palate pressure.
The Happy Tongue, above, is an example of a solid, ported and curved mouth piece. The Happy Tongue is designed to take the pressure off the horse’s tongue and move it to the bars. The curve of the mouth piece ensures that it follows the shape of the horse’s mouth. The solid feel suits horses that do not like much movement in the mouth.
Solid ported mouth pieces are often compared to solid straight mouth pieces. The pressure applied by each is very different.
The Mullen places strong pressure on all the structures of the mouth at the same time.
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Words by Claire Lund. Coming next – flexible, moulded mullen & Waterford.