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The Bit Dictionary - Mouthpieces - Part 3 of 3
 By Polo the Weirdo   •   16th Jun 2013   •   9,590 views   •   1 comments
The Bit DictionaryThis part of ‘The Bit Dictionary’ explores numerous common mouthpieces found in snaffle bits. Finding the correct mouthpiece, along with the correct action, is of the utmost importance to the horse’s comfort and performance. This list shows a number of options of mouthpieces commonly found in various snaffle bits.
 

Single Jointed. A mouthpiece with a single joint, providing nutcracker action. Although mild, this is harsher than a double jointed bit, and many horses respond badly to the nutcracker action as it applies pressure to the roof of the mouth and can cause pinching if used harshly. This is the most typically used mouthpiece, seen mostly in steel or the softer rubber variation.Single Jointed Snaffle Bit
Rubber Straight Bar. This is a somewhat primitive bit, consisting of a single flexible rubber bar connected to two loose rings. It should also be noted that due to the thickness of these bits, a horse with a thick tongue or a shallow palate might find it uncomfortable. I feel that its usefulness is somewhat limited given its overly simple nature, but for that exact reason, this is my favourite bit for starting a young horse. The rubber is soft and easy to accept, and the simple straight action of the bit allows the horse to become gradually accustomed to the aids. It also ensures that you can’t apply too much pressure to the young horse’s mouth, and spoil the poor animal early. The rubber straightbar is a great starting bit to train the basics, but when you want to move on and ask more of your horse, you want a bit with a little more finesse.Rubber Straight Bar Snaffle Bit
French Link or Elliptical Link. French links and Elliptical links both have a link in the middle, allowing the action of the bit to be spread throughout the horse’s mouth and making it easier to accept. A French link is flat and thus puts less pressure on the tongue opposed to the rounded elliptical. Both are kind options, although the French link is better suited to a horse with a sensitive tongue.French Link or Elliptical Link Snaffle Bit
Copper Roller. Copper rollers are most commonly seen on Dee rings. They produce a nutcracker action that is harsher than a double jointed snaffle, but the copper rollers on the bit are excellent for a horse that gets bored or fussy, or has trouble accepting the bit. Not only does the copper promote salivation, but the stimulation that the horse gets from playing with the rollers helps to relax them and soften their mouth. I find that this bit can be particularly useful with stressed and finicky horses, like thoroughbred mares. The distraction of playing with the rollers will help the horse to become more focused on its job.Copper Roller Snaffle Bit
Waterford. While illegal for dressage, the Waterford is an invaluable tool in the jumping arena, or for early schooling in downhill horses that are particularly heavy on the hand and inclined to lean. The Waterford is composed of a number of links, thus making it flexible and difficult for a horse to lean on. It is stronger than a regular snaffle, but it is not a harsh bit. A Waterford is a fantastic tool to use to train a horse out of a leaning habit; time and again this bit has served me well. I don’t necessarily approve of a Waterford as a permanent bitting choice, except in particularly downhill-built horses, but as a temporary ‘problem-solving’ bit, I swear by it.Waterford Snaffle Bit
Ported. Also not allowed in dressage, the ported snaffle makes use of a curved mouthpiece to avoid tongue pressure. This is particularly useful for horses with large or sensitive tongues. While a low port can be a relatively mild bit, a high port applies pressure to the roof of the mouth, which can act very severely and force a horse into a false outline. These bits typically use a straight bar action, which can be quite harsh in the steel variation, but some bits also make use of ported links (much like a curved French link).Ported Snaffle Bit
Mullen Mouth. A mullen mouth is a straight bar snaffle, slightly curved to provide more space for the tongue. It is a fairly harsh snaffle that applies pressure to the tongue, bars and lips. It is milder in its loose ring variation.Mullen Mouth Snaffle Bit
Dr. Bristol. In appearance, a Dr. Bristol is much like a French link, except that the flat link in the middle is longer, and angled so the edge presses sharply into the tongue. Unlike the mild French link, the Dr. Bristol can be relatively severe, especially for a horse with a sensitive tongue.Dr. Bristol Snaffle Bit
Ball Joint. This bit acts similarly to the French link and Dr. Bristol, but with a small sphere joining the bit as opposed to a flat link. It applies some pressure to the tongue; more than the French link, but less than the Dr. Bristol.Ball Joint Snaffle Bit
Twisted. Ranging from the milder slow twist to the extremely severe Twisted Wire, these bits are composed of twisted mouthpieces of varying thickness (with the Twisted Wire being the thinnest) and make use of pressure points caused by the twist along with a harsh nutcracker action to elicit a very severe action on the horse’s mouth. In my opinion, these is no situation in which a Twisted Wire is a suitable option.Twisted Snaffle Bit
Dark Star  
Time and Time again I find myself putting Dee is a loose ring twisted wire snaffle and she rides fantastic in it when working at home with just draw reins. In fact, many of the show horses at our barn work well in it. It isn't tiny (although I have used a very small one on a horse before and got needed results from it), but maybe an inch or so thick.

Many of our gaited show horses show in a double twisted wire shanked bit (like the picture you used for the twisted wire only with shanks) and most of them ride well when its used correctly.


Bitting is all opinion (both horse and riders). Some horse will not ride in any bit you have posted above (I know because I have one).

I respect your opinion on this subject, much as i hope you respect mine.
  Jun 16, 2013  •  10,372 views
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