A note from Martin about bit selection
There are different features of a bit that cause it to function differently and, depending on the horse, certain features may be more favorable than others. Regardless of the choice of mouthpiece, the cheeks determine the amount and type of pressure from the reins.
|Here’s a good example of a bit with more sweep to soften contact from the rider’s hands.|
A more sensitive horse is likely to get along better with a bit that has cheeks that slope back more, known as sweep. This means the line between the three points, 1- being the loop at the top of the cheek for the headstall, 2- where the mouthpiece is attached in the middle of the cheek, and 3- where the reins connect at the bottom of the cheek.
The straighter the line means more signal or leverage. As the bit rotates in the horse’s mouth, it gives signal until the curb strap comes tight and the rotation ceases, then leverage is implemented putting direct pressure to the mouth and lower jaw.
The more sweep, the less leverage, and, with enough sweep, the leverage can be eliminated completely to where the rotation of the bit applies little or no pressure at the curb strap. This would only be for a very sensitive horse, like maybe a horse being introduced to the bit in the earliest stages. Most horses would do better to have slight contact with the curb strap before the bit completes the rotation.
There are many considerations in choosing the best bit for a horse, like overall weight, shape and material of mouth piece, the ratio of measurements between the three points, adjustment of the curb strap, and sweep along with many other features.
Stay tuned for more information about bit use and selection in upcoming newsletters.