Trainer Tuesday: What are two bits you frequently use in your program and why?

Welcome to Trainer Tuesday! Each week we ask trainers a question and gather their answers for you. These trainers have a range of experience, backgrounds, and focus points of their programs, so the answers have as much variation as you would expect and also probably much more similarity. 

This week’s question posed is: What are two bits you frequently use in your program and why?

Here are their answers:

“I love a loose ring snaffle with a brass mouth and French link. I find that my horses like to take a hold of it and it is great for flat work. I also like a ported vulcanite rubber Pelham with a short shank. I find that the horses don’t get offended by it and that the low port helps to keep them light while the wide rubber mouthpiece encourages them to suck on to the bit for contact. Of course there is no one solution for all mouths and the horses are the ones that have the final say, but these 2 bits I find more than others in my tack room.” -Georgy Maskrey-Segesman
Read about Georgy’s big move in The Plaid Horse here.

“Loose ring snaffle and a loose ring rubber snaffle. I’m not a ‘bit person,’ I want all my horses to be predominantly ridden off of my leg and weight. If I find myself asking what bit could solve a problem, my automatic answer is ride better! Do a better job teaching the horse to balance through my weight, steer from my leg, carry themselves, etc. The hand and the bit should simply be a finishing touch if you’ve done your homework!” -Vanessa Brown

“Most everything in my bit box is soft. If I’ve helped my clients choose great hunters and we have educated or kept their education solid, more bit is often unnecessary… but I love a copper slow twist Dr Bristol full cheek and plain D ring snaffles that helps to create saliva; I know I don’t work the best with a dry mouth!” -Courtney Hayden-Fromm
Read about Courtney here.

“Almost all of my ponies school in the KK double jointed loose rings (with bit guards). They are mild and fit most mouth conformations well, so the ponies can learn to be soft and move their tongues. I also have a lot that go in some form of a mullen mouth with a low port for tongue relief (I put the Nathe white rubber bar bits in this category) some really seem to like the stability, and it can numb out some of the mixed signals that come from little kids that might pull for balance.” -Emily Elek
Stalk Emily’s spreadsheet here.

“We keep it simple when it comes to bits. Our go to bit is simply a big fat eggbutt snaffle for flatwork and at home schoolings. In our program we have a lot of young horses, horses in training or new imports so keeping it simple is key for training. For over fences I like the Peter Pletcher D bit. It has enough bite to get the job done early, without insulting the horse’s mouth, so you can be softer sooner. But of course we adjust the bit depending on the rider’s ability.” -Caroline Mercier Stanton

“For my lesson saints I use Rubber Mullens as they are – usually – more forgiving and less painful in the hands of those learning control. I think many of my horses find comfort in a medium weight three piece snaffle with lozenge center, so no pinching with this one.” -Kiri Baldi

“I’ve always felt simple is best! In my travels I see lots of 3 ring elevators and gags that are weapons in uneducated hands. Stronger bits have their purpose but I like to see egg butt and full cheek snaffle bits with riders learning to use their correct aids to control their horse. My ultimate preference is a bitless bridle such as a Dr. Cook!” -Sally Batton
Read Sally’s book The Athletic Equestrian: Over 40 Exercises for Good Hands, Power Legs, and Superior Seat Awareness.

“My bit collection is pretty legendary because I have found that horse’s mouths don’t tend to be ‘one size/style fits all’. A single or double jointed snaffle is a staple to have around. I have also had great luck with double jointed correction bits if the joints swivel and the port is not excessive. These are actually pretty comfortable for many horses and lighten up the front end just a bit without causing discomfort. Basically, my rule is use the least you can use and still have the horse pay attention. Sometimes it’s harder for a horse to be under-bitted, because then the rider is ALWAYS pulling.” -Daphne Thornton
Listen to Daphne on the Plaidcast here.

“A plain D snaffle and a 2-ring happy mouth. Both have broad use in many horses.” -Waddy Ousler

“My two favorite bits are a thick – thus heavy – Sprenger alloy loose ring snaffle and a thick, hollow – thus light – inexpensive, stainless loose-ring snaffle. The horses are taught 2 key ideas from day one: first is bits are for the jaw being loose and wet, and two is they follow the bit.” -Jane Frizzell

“I have a large collection of bits because I have found that every horse has different needs, and those needs can and do evolve as their level of training and fitness changes. It also depends on the rider; a bit that works well for me on a horse may not necessarily work as well for one of my clients. Finding the best bit for a horse and rider is one part understanding the theory of how each type of bit works, one part understanding exactly what your goal is with that bitting choice, and two parts testing it to see if the horse agrees with your theory! All that being said, two of my “go-to” bits are a plain snaffle with a double jointed mouthpiece or a bevel cheekpiece for a horse that tends to be stronger. I find that these two are a pretty good baseline to start from so you can start to find what works for you and your horse!” -Allyson Hartenburg

“Number one is a rubber snaffle and number two is a dee ring plain snaffle. The horse’s mouth is so important. I want a relaxed horse trusting in the bridle. With having a Dressage background as part of my junior years, I am a huge fan of going back to training instead of more equipment.” -Missy Jo Hollingsworth

“The bit I use the most is the Myler Comfort Snaffle level 2 (without the hooks). With mostly ponies and tiny kids in my program, I feel it is just enough bit and brakes for the kiddos. I use this for the ponies that are built down hill and get a little heavy (I have quite a few older ponies that go this way). I have always felt this bit reinforces the training we do as professionals, regardless of the bit we use before the kiddos. It fits the tongue and mouth well, allowing for effective steering with light pressure.

As far as a second bit in my program, I don’t think I use a second bit as frequently. I will often use a rubber Pelham for the equitation, even for the ponies. When the first class of the day is the M&S Pony Medal and it typically has a halt and a trot jump, the Pelham starts the kids and ponies off on a successful note with an easier and smoother transition to the halt and for the trot jump than the snaffle we will use in the hunters. When I was at USEF Pony Finals last year, there was a halt after a line. So many people were worried about that halt. Being an equitation class – and a National Final – I was surprised to look over and see so many plain snaffles being used on the ponies they were worried might not halt. I also like that I can teach the kids how to use the Pelham before they move up to the equitation on a horse.”
-Jennifer Taylor

“I can’t say that I have two favorite bits, but my horses tend to prefer bits that are broken in three parts. I think it’s very important to find a bit that your horse is most comfortable with. I also may not ride a horse in the same bit that my client rides in. I believe all horses have different mouths and all riders have different feel and should be treated as individuals.” -Carl Weeden