Bombers Bits recently ran a competition with Your Horse magazine targeted at horse owners, and a lucky winner named X chose an Eggbutt Happy Tongue 115.
X’s New Forest pony, who’d had all relevant physical checks, was crossing his jaw and sticking his out his tongue when she asked for downwards transitions, and he would also throw his head up when trying to pull away during cross country. “I would love to make him more comfortable! He’s also always been very difficult to get the bit into his mouth – probably because he is uncomfortable,” she explained.
X was using a 5.25 inch loose ring elliptical bit (PICTURED LEFT), which she believed to be brass. “We used that for every discipline, as he is only strong out hunting; out hunting I use a loose ring Wilkie with a lozenge, which is 5.5 inches, and I use bit guards; although I’m finding the Wilkie makes him throw his head, rather than actually respect the bit,” X explained. “This resistance can lead to the bit causing small sores in the corners of his mouth. Although not strong per se in the loose ring elliptical for dressage and jumping, he has a tendency to lean on the bit a lot in his canter work, and is not very respectful of it in transitions. It would be nice to find a bit that he find comfortable and also that requires me to use softer aids for him to listen,” she said.
Sensitive to tongue pressure
It was explained to X that sticking his tongue out is a strong sign that he may be sensitive to tongue pressure, and that the Bombers Bits team often sees tongue-sensitive horses getting very heavy in the contact; they will often lean, to try and numb the pressure. Taking the pressure off the tongue will make an equine like this more comfortable, allowing the horse to keep his tongue quietly in his mouth, and also ‘lighten up’ in the hand, as being more comfortable allows the horse or pony to be more responsive to the rein aids.
X explained that the pony’s tongue is quite fleshy, so it was suggested that the bit should fit just slightly snugly; very fleshy lips often hide a small bone structure, which can result in a bit that looks like it fits well on the outside, but is actually too big for the inside of the mouth. In such cases, it therefore doesn’t sit in the correct place and can cause discomfort. In these cases the bit often moves through the mouth too much; too much movement not only risks rubs and cuts, but it also prevents a clear, clean aid.
The Wilkie that X uses for hunting will add a little leverage to the mouth, which increases the strength of the pressure. With a lozenge, this increases the tongue pressure; probably why he is more resistant to this bit. The Wilkie also bring the pressure in very quickly, because the rein loop at the bottom stops any slide of the rein and the mouth piece on the ring.
Responsive to the rein aids
The bombers team therefore suggested a Bombers Eggbutt Happy Tongue for the pony. The Eggbutt cheek pieces allow a slightly snug fit, ensuring that it is sitting correctly on the inside of his mouth. The Happy Tongue’s contoured shape (PICTURED LEFT) eliminates most of the tongue pressure, with the aim that he will be much more comfortable with that pressure removed, allowing him to be much more responsive to the rein aids.
It was suggested that the bit be supplied 15mm smaller than the pony’s current bit (sized at 130mm), in a 115mm size. It was ascertained that the existing loose ring elliptical measures 130mm, and was around 5mm too big for the pony.
This theoretically takes his current bit down to a 125mm to fit correctly; the Eggbutt Happy Tongue from Bombers will sit differently in the mouth however, so it was suggested that we take 10mm off for the fit to be correct, taking us to a 115mm. In such a small size, an ‘off the shelf’ version of the Bombers Eggbutt Happy Tongue would normally have the pony size cheek pieces, however it was suggested that these may look a little small on him; therefore, the bit was supplied with horse size cheek pieces for him.
Pleasingly, X saw an immediate difference with her pony, once the new Bombers bit was fitted.
“I have seen an amazing different in his way of going with the new bit. He no longer constantly opens his mouth and seems very settled and happy. Thanks so much for all of your help!”, said the happy prize winner!
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