The bit is the most important piece of tack you will ever buy because it’s the number one way you communicate with your horse when riding.

It goes without saying that the choice of bit is crucial. Get it wrong and not only could your horse end up in a lot of discomfort and pain, but he’ll have no idea what you’re saying to him either.

With new bits hitting the market all the time, it can be pretty confusing. So, we’ve enlisted the help of Jodie Hooks, owner of The Horse Bit Bank.

Let’s talk about fit

The first place to start, always, is to consider what thickness and size of bit will suit your horse best.

Thickness

The thickness of the mouthpiece needs to be suitable for the horse’s mouth conformation. An equine dental technician (EDT) can help to assess your horse’s mouth if you’re not sure, but you can also check the amount of space between the tongue and the roof of the mouth yourself by gently putting a finger in through the bars and feeling how much clearance there is.

The traditional thinking that a thicker mouthpiece is milder isn’t true. If too thick, it can cause bruising, tension, opening of the mouth, breathing issues or grinding on the bit.

Sizing

To find the correct width, a general guide is to look for 1.5 lip wrinkles at the corner of your horse’s mouth when the bit is in place.

Style

The style of bit also needs to complement your horse’s mouth conformation and it’s important to understand the feel of different bits and how they work.

You can get an idea of this by wrapping the bit around your upper arm and applying some pressure as you would with a rein aid, bearing in mind how much more sensitive your horse’s tongue is.

Don’t just choose a bit because of its action – it must be suitable for your horse’s mouth conformation too.

Your EDT can offer better guidance here by giving you a better understanding of your horse’s mouth, so use their expertise.

Best bits

The ergonomically designed double-jointed lozenge style of mouthpiece remains the most popular type because it distributes the pressure from the rein aids more evenly and over a wider surface on the tongue without applying pressure to the palate. This makes it very comfortable for your horse.

Don’t miss the latest issue of Your Horse Magazine, jam-packed with training and veterinary advice, horse-care tips and the latest equestrian products available on shop shelves, on sale now.