Bit Rules Change 2023 - Horse Bit Advice

Bit Rule changes 2023

Is the bit rule Change a good thing?

Just when you thought you had found the perfect bit for your horse and looking forward to competing this year……doh the bit rule changes, and your bit is no longer legal!! Back to the drawing board…..or Bitting Consultant!

With the new rule changes for 2023, some of my customers had this predicament to overcome. This is an example of one. This ladies horse was a mature horse, well trained and compassionately managed. His ‘evasion’ is a tongue issue which he has had for most of his known career. He constantly is moving it and opening his mouth and has been known to put the tongue out. His owner found after many bit changes that the Bomber DC happy tongue swivel was the one, he was able to cope with and be the most relaxed with.

My thoughts as to why this was the case, is that it had become an anxious habit of constantly trying to make sure he can move his tongue freely avoiding restriction. This can present as an overly busy mouth, which will not only result in getting you marked down but will cause tension and fatigue to the facial muscles, creating a soreness around the hyoid apparatus. With a normal fixed mouthpiece, he would always meet a slight resistance which would make the reaction increase. and also, this would instigate him putting his tongue out of the mouth to avoid any pressure.

At this point I must say that the rider is experience, very light in the hand and riding from her seat with large amounts of patience and understanding of her horse, this is not a rider issue.  She has managed to move him up carefully in his level of work and now riding/competing at Medium moving up to Advanced Medium at a pace he can maintain.

When I breakdown the way a bit works for the horse, it was apparent he did not like any form of collapsible mouthpiece ie. Single joint, lozenge as a stand-alone snaffle. So that took me to several snaffle options that have non-collapsible mouthpieces such as the Myler 04 comfort snaffle and the Max control with varying cheek pieces. He found it very difficult to manage so we decided that he was going to step up to a double and we would try this option. Now you may be muttering to the screen that if he can’t cope with a snaffle how the heck will he cope with a 2 bits!! Well, my train of thought was that I needed to disperse the pressure away from the tongue, whilst giving him space to move his tongue so some form of ported mouthpiece. Stabilize the bit so there was not too much movement so he could be confident to accept a mouthpiece he could take up and forward. Having the double bits in experienced hands would introduce more finesse so that he didn’t ‘sit on’ the mouthpiece and become heavy. He had experienced the use of  a double previously and gone quiet well but on inspection of the existing the Weymouth, it was extremely heavy, and the diameter was 18mm which in my book is too great for most mouths, especially when you’re adding another.

My choice for the Weymouth was a titanium forward cut port (so that the bradoon) could sit above in the horse’s mouth and not get stuck over the top of a upward port.  The bradoon I chose to compliment it was a very neat eggbutt jointed sweet iron style (his snaffle was also sweet iron incidentally which he liked.)

Bearing in mind with the snaffle he was very inclined to open his mouth and twist his jaw, causing a curve or banana shape to his body. Once in the double he relaxed, engaged, ‘sat’ behind more.  Lifted his wither, and opened his shoulder gave a light but true connection and the rider said he felt straighter. This was all what I saw for myself. His movement became greater and stronger because the head jaw and neck were mobile and relaxed, this enabled the whole body to move fluidly.

It is always very important to be aware and take into consideration, when you get a positive change like this from any bit change, you must give the horse time to adjust as the muscle groups will be weaker in places and need time to gain strength slowly over a period, or you risk putting the muscles into fatigue and creating another compensation.  For this horse the Double Bridle bits were a benefit because he had been trained well in his snaffle achieving correct thoroughness but when we could not give him the same help from an alternative snaffle option HE chose the signals and suggestions and communication suggestions, from This Double combination. Although I have the immense background knowledge of many bit types and brands it is ALWAYS the horse who has the final choice and they demonstrate that by a soft relaxed and accepting response from their bodies and attitude.

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