BY JESS CLAWSON
Many riders struggle with teaching their horses, and themselves, proper connection to the bit. Sometimes horses resist because the bit isn’t an appropriate choice or doesn’t fit correctly, while others may struggle with the action of the snaffle mouthpiece when the rider pulls on the reins.
Since 2003, The Perfect Bit has been working to change the way we communicate with our horses. Its innovative, patented ball joint connection of the shank to the mouthpiece allows riders to give a clearer signal to their horses via independent rotational cheek movement, thereby improving horse performance.
The simple design and clear communication means that riders from beginners just learning feel to top professionals can benefit from the Perfect Bit. Grand Prix rider Quentin Judge says, “The Perfect Bit gives me a great connection to my horse’s mouth. Their wide variety of styles means you can find the perfect option for any horse.”
The mechanics are simple. A patented ball-joint connection of the shank to the mouthpiece allows independent rotational cheek movement that enables the rider to send the desired message without mixed signals to his horse without pain and discomfort to the horse. Horses can excel in ways they have never done before simply because riders have changed the way they communicate.
Some horses express their discomfort with a bit by opening their mouth, shaking their head, placing the tongue over the bit, or dropping their head behind the contact. The Perfect Bit, developed by top western rider and trainer Darren Stoner, is meant to prevent the pain and damage traditional bits can inflict.
The Perfect Bit is the result of many years of experimentation with numerous bits as Darren widened his search for a mouthpiece that allowed him to combine control with horse comfort. “I have experimented with every type of bit known on my search for the Perfect Bit,” Darren said. “I found many bits that accomplished a specific goal in a part of a horse’s development but could never find a bit which could be used in a more multi-dimensional manner without any negatives.”
His determination to find a design that would allow him to communicate led him to developing a bit that has been popular amongst western riders for well over a decade. While some hunter/jumper riders discovered the western bit and its benefits, the original design was so unconventional in the English disciplines that most riders would use it as a secret weapon to school in at home, and then not use it at shows—defeating the purpose of the enhanced communication.
So Darren worked to develop a cheek piece that looks more like the traditional hunter D. While the bit still has a block on the side where the joint goes, it’s much less noticeable and the cheek looks like it belongs on an English bridle.
All variations of the bit are well made and guaranteed not to pinch. The cheeks and mouth are made of stainless steel and cold-rolled steel with a copper bead around the center joint to promote salivation.
This design is kinder to the horse’s mouth than a regular fixed cheek single-jointed snaffle. “When you pull back the center joints breaks down and pokes the roof of your horse’s mouth,” Darren explained. “With the Perfect Bit ring snaffle, the ball joint allows the mouthpiece to stay between the tongue and the roof of the mouth.”
Professional riders have seen a difference with it–Vick Russell won the $5000 Vet Huntfield Challenge using it on Christina Fisher’s Cool. Clay Farrell and Julia Butcher came in third and fourth in the class, respectively, also using The Perfect Bit.
It also works differently from a loose ring single-jointed snaffle. “While the loose ring allows the the mouthpiece to move independently, the pressure from the reins still creates a break at the joint that will put pressure in the roof of the horse’s mouth or tongue,” he said. “With the Perfect Bit, the mouthpiece floats between the tongue and the roof of the mouth. In a loose ring snaffle, the rings rotate; in the Perfect Bit, the mouthpiece rotates.”
English riders can choose from a variety of mouthpieces on the D ring cheek: a single joint, a dog bone (like what many of us think of as a French link), a lifesaver, and a twisted mouthpiece with either a single joint or dog bone. Pelham and weymouth options are coming soon.
If you’re experiencing difficulty finding a bit your horse loves, The Perfect Bit may be the answer. Give their innovative design a try and experience improved connection for yourself.