Retailers – we recently looked at the structure of the horse’s mouth, and how the horse’s reactions to pressure in different areas has resulted in the selection of available bits expanding dramatically over the last 20 years. Click on the below links to see our most recent articles.
To recap – bitting is complex in that we have two components that affect each other, the mouth piece and the cheek piece. The mouth piece is the most important component of bit to the horse. The mouth piece determines where pressure is being placed in the mouth. The cheek piece can add extra pressure points, increase the strength of the pressure and in very special cases help to lessen the pressure, but it cannot completely change where the pressure is placed in the mouth. It is best to break the bit down into mouth piece and cheek piece. First, we try to find the correct mouth piece for the horse, then we add in the cheek piece.
A flexible mouth piece is defined as a mouth piece that is able to wrap around the mouth. Most flexible mouth pieces are synthetics, an exception being the Waterford. Flexible mouth pieces will tend to spread pressure out evenly over the mouth without overloading any one area. They work well for horses that have uneven bars or those that are a combination of tongue and bar sensitive.
The Moulded Mullen, shown here with eggbutt cheekpieces, is designed to create a space for the tongue when the contact is taken up, the mouth piece curves and the middle lifts up away from the tongue.
The area over the tongue is flattened so that it is able to distribute pressure over the largest possible surface area, without making the mouth piece too thick.
The Waterford is designed to wrap around the mouth, spreading pressure evenly, but with some give to the mouth piece.
The Waterford (shown below with lose ring cheekpieces), is seen as a bit that the horse cannot grab onto, however it is often that the horse has no need to grab the bit with a Waterford; this is because it does not create a pressure point on the tongue and the amount of flexibility in the mouth pieces allows for more even pressure on bars that are not the same height or shape.
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With thanks to Claire Lund.