Check the requirements for horse shows.,
Start with a snaffle.,
Measure the horse’s mouth.,
Choose the ring shape.,
Choose a mouthpiece.,
Check the mouthpiece comfort.
Most horse showing competitions forbid the use of certain bits. Even if you do not attend events, obeying one of these lists is not a bad idea. These bits are generally forbidden due to the pain they cause the horse.;
, A simple snaffle bit is a mild, popular option, that only applies the amount of pressure you pull.Always begin with a snaffle, and try the stronger bits only if the horse is difficult to control.
, You can purchase measuring tools for this purpose, or you can place a wooden dowel in his mouth where the bit should sit. Find a dowel that sticks out about half an inch (1.25 cm) on either side; this dowel is the appropriate width for your bit. For most horses, start with a 4–5 inch (10–13cm) bit and switch as necessary.
Usually, a smaller horse has a smaller mouth and will need a smaller bit, and the reverse for larger horses. Their are exceptions, however, as some breeds have unusually large or small heads.
If you have access to a previous bit, allow it to hang straight and measure the mouthpiece. Do not include the rings in the measurement.
, The outside of the snaffle consists of a ring on either side of the mouth. Common options include D-rings, O-rings, and loose rings which are free to rotate in place. The best way to choose these is to try out several, to feel the difference in control and see how your horse reacts. Make your decision based on your and your horse’s personal preference.
If you can’t try out the bit before buying, go with the popular D-ring. This tends to be less harsh than other bits.
, Snaffle bits come with a variety of mouthpieces as well. A basic, jointed mouthpiece is a good option for most riders, but there are other options. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:
Rubber or plastic-coated mouthpieces are more mild than a bare metal bar. Twisted wire mouthpieces are the most severe, and should only be used by experienced trainers.Thinner mouthpieces are generally more likely to cut the horse’s mouth or cause pain.
, Confirm that the mouthpiece is comfortable with the following tests:
Make sure the rings or metal connections at the corners of the mouth do not pinch the horse’s lip tissue. If you’re not sure, put the side of your finger next to that ring/bar juncture. Spin the ring and see if it pinches your own finger (which is harder to pinch than soft tissue).
The link in the middle of a “broken mouth snaffle” can pinch as well. If you have this type of bit, test this on the side of your finger as well.
Check whether the center of the bit hits the rugae (ridges) of the horse’s palate, or the roof of the mouth. This is often what’s happening if the horse is restless or tosses its head a lot. In this case, switch to a French link mouthpiece, which lays flatter on the tongue and allows a larger range of motion.