When it comes to horses and equipment, the word “fitting” is commonly associated with saddles. The topic of saddle fit is quite common across disciplines, and it is becoming increasingly more common knowledge that proper saddle fit is key to a happy, sound horse. Did you know that a proper fitting bit can be just as important?
For over 150 years, Herm Sprenger has worked tirelessly to develop bits with the horse in mind and we believe finding the right bit for your horse should be just as important as finding the right saddle.
We sat down with our US Head of Equine Sales, Vivian Schmidt, to discuss some common misconceptions and myths when it comes to choosing a bit for your horse, and some may even surprise you!
Myth #1: The wider the bit, the more “friendly” it is.
“This can really only be true if the horse can still comfortably close their mouth around the bit,” Vivian said. “If the bit is too wide for the natural anatomy of the horse’s mouth, it can actually cause quite a bit of discomfort.” So even though that thick rubber snaffle may look like a friendlier option than the single-jointed loose ring hanging in your tack room, your horse may not actually prefer it. When shopping for bits, Herm Sprenger provides the thickness measurement in millimeters. For example, we offer bits as thin as 12mm to upwards of 20mm thick.
So how do you figure out what bit thickness would likely suit your horse? We have an easy trick called the “2-Finger Test” that can give you a great idea as to what range your horse will likely fall into.
With your index and middle finger together, place your fingers carefully in their mouth and let them rest where your bit typically lies. Allow your horse to relax their mouth, allowing the jaw to close softly and take notice how much pressure you feel on your fingers from your horse’s jaw.
If you feel little to no pressure: your horse should be able to comfortably go in a bit from 16mm and up
If you feel pressure on both fingers: your horse will likely need a bit thinner than 16mm
Myth #2: All Single-Jointed bits produce a ”nutcracker effect”, so double-jointed bits are always a better, “more nice” option.
Here at Herm Sprenger, we have spent many years researching, developing, and testing our bit designs to offer the most comfortable and anatomically-correct designs. “Some horses actually prefer single-jointed bits over double-jointed bits since they tend to be much quieter in the mouth,” Vivian said. We offer a variety of single-jointed bit options that are designed in a way to lay optimally in the horse’s mouth, making them much more anatomically-friendly than the single-jointed bits of days gone by.
Below you can see an example of a traditional single-jointed bit (left) versus the design of our SPRENGER single-jointed bits (right)
Vivian also pointed out that she frequently sees horses wearing bits that are too big for them versus too small, for example, a horse may be wearing a 5 ¼” when they really should be in a 5” bit. This seems quite frequent when it comes to Weymouth-type bits. “Most Weymouth bits I see are sized too big for the horse, and I suggest as a general rule of thumb to go down one bit size from your snaffle when choosing a Weymouth bit.”
We have created a DIY bit fitting tool and tutorial to aid in choosing the correct bit size or checking to see if your current bit is the best fit for your horse. Click here
to download and print this tool.
Proper bit fit is incredibly important to us and we are happy to offer additional assistance and suggestions if you are having trouble finding the right bit for your horse.
On an additional note, bit fit should go hand in hand with proper dental & veterinary care. If you are having issues with your horse when it comes to adverse mouthiness, gaping, head shaking, etc; it is always a good idea to check in with your vet and/or dentist to rule out any physical issues.
Want to learn about bit fitting and the entire Herm Sprenger equestrian product line?
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