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Do You Need to Replace Your Horse's Bit?

Do You Need to Replace Your Horse’s Bit?

September 27, 2018

The bit may be an important piece of horse riding equipment, but how do you know if you need to replace it? Is the bit making your horse’s mouth hurt? The following information can help you decode whether your horse is wearing a properly fitting bit or not.

Make sure the bit fits

Before riding, you probably check to make sure the saddle and bridle both fit correctly. What about horse bits in Montana? It’s important that this piece fits your horse properly, too—and comfortably. A bit that is too big has a tendency to move around and bang against the horse’s teeth, while a bit that is too small may pinch the corners of the horse’s mouth. The most obvious signs of an ill-fitting bit are rubbed patches or thickened skin on the corners of the mouth. Instead of waiting for injuries to appear, check for proper bit fit now!

Testing bit size is easy. Get a clean piece of twine and a tape measure or ruler. Gently slide the twine into the horse’s mouth, back near the corners of the mouth until it’s sitting about where the bit would go. Now, pull the twine taut and grasp both ends with your fingers at the corner of the horse’s lips. Remove the twine and measure the length between your fingers.

Generally, properly fitted horse bits are a quarter-inch longer than the width of the horse’s mouth. Adjust the cheek pieces of the bridle so the bit rests where it should in the bars of the mouth. Also take into account the shape of the horse’s mouth and the size of their tongue.

Signs the bit does not fit

Don’t dismiss unusual behavior. The following could be signs that your horse’s bit doesn’t fit well:

  • Chewing: Although excessive bit chewing can be a sign of anxiety, it can also mean it’s the wrong size. Out of control chewing can include constantly clanking the bit against their teeth and excessively foaming at the mouth. Note that some level of chewing is normal, and can even be relaxing for the horse.
  • Gaping mouth: Your horse’s mouth shouldn’t always be open. If it is, take the time to figure out why this is happening. Try changing out the bit and see if this closes the mouth. The type and size of the mouthpiece matters, as a lack of tongue relief or a bit that’s digging into or pinching the mouth will cause gaping.
  • Tossing their head: If your horse is tossing their head all the time, check the bit. Head tossing can indicate the need for tongue relief, or they are responding to a bit that’s digging into their hard palate.
  • Resistance: Being heavy on the reins can make your horse resist to some degree, but they shouldn’t constantly fight your hands. This fight is a sign that they are also fighting the bit. Whether the bit is hurting the horse or simply not the right fit, you have to figure out the problem.

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