Got My Horse

Taming Your Horse: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Bit

Choosier Bits for Better Horse Control

Horse control issues occur when there is a power struggle between horse and rider. In most cases, the horse manifests a rebellious attitude that can make it difficult to handle.

As a result, horse lovers and trainers are always looking for ways to contain such behavior. One of the most popular solutions is the use of horse bits.

However, with so many options available, how do you choose the right bit? In this article, we will explore the factors you need to consider when choosing a bit, popular bits for added control, the importance of training and refining control, and frequently asked questions.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Bit

The choice of bit plays a significant role in the level of control that you have over your horse. The bit directly affects how a horse behaves under the rider’s control, making it a critical factor to consider when selecting a bit.

There are several factors to consider when choosing a bit, including:

  1. The horse’s mouth: Always take into consideration the horse’s mouth size, sensitivity, and dental issues as these factors will affect the type of bit that will fit your horse.
  2. Level of control issues: The severity of control issues will dictate the type of bit that is best suited. For instance, if your horse is hard to control and unpredictable, a bit that offers more leverage might be necessary.
  3. Horse experience: Consider the level of experience that the horse has. A green horse will only require a mild bit.
  4. Horse preferences: Horses, just like humans, have preferences. Observe how your horse interacts with bits is instrumental to choosing the best bit that they will be comfortable with.

Tips for Choosing a Horse Bit

  1. Self-control: Choose a horse bit that promotes self-control in your horse. The bit should be lightweight enough to provide your horse with comfort and eliminate any discomfort that could provoke anxiety and rebellion.
  2. Avoid big bits: Big bits are not the solution to your horse control issue, unless advised by a professional trainer. Oversized bits can cause serious injury and even emotional distress to your horse.
  3. Simple bits: Complicated bits should be avoided as they can be quite daunting for the horse. Simple bits are more comfortable, easier to use, and facilitate better control.

Popular Bits for Added Control

  1. Wonder Bit: This bit is suitable for horses that have a history of being difficult to control, the barrel racing type, and horses that tend to bolt.
  2. Cathedral Spoon Bit: This bit is best for horses that cross their jaw, bolt, or tend to lean.
  3. Full Cheek Snaffle: A versatile bit that can be used by almost any rider’s skill level. It is suitable for horses that have a sensitive mouth and those that lean towards one side.
  4. Kimberwick: This bit is for horses that pull, tend to rush, or need more control.
  5. Pelham: A bit that has two reins and is used for horses that are pushy and have a hard time controlling their speed.

Training and Refining Control

Going Back to Basics

If you are facing a challenging control issue with your horse, going back to the fundamentals can be incredibly helpful. Start by assessing your horse’s basic training and work your way up gradually.

Consider taking a few training sessions that will set a solid foundation.

Light Hands and Gentle Aids

When you have a horse control issue, aggressive riding can be daunting and may make the situation worse. Light hands and gentle aids will communicate the message to your horse without causing any confusion or discomfort.

Benefits of Using a Temporary Stronger Bit

If your horse continues to pull and is challenging to control with a milder bit, you may want to consider using a stronger bit temporarily, or until your horse gets used to the commands that you are trying to give. Using a temporary stronger bit can provide the extra control you need, but it’s not a long-term solution.

Training to Soften and Yield to Pressure

Training is the best approach to gain optimal control over a horse and soften its behavior. One of the main horse behaviors that trainers train their horses against is resisting the pressure of the reins.

Softening and yielding to pressure needs to be instilled in your horse from the start to create a more responsive, and easy to control horse.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What causes a horse to pull while riding?
  2. Pulling is caused when the horse is confused and looking for guidance. Therefore the rider should use gentle aids and communicate effectively.

  3. What can be done to prevent a horse from leaning while riding?
  4. Try changing the bit for a different style that helps to maintain appropriate posture and correct leaning during riding.

  5. What can be done if a horse is bolting?
  6. Always hold the reins steady and keep your balance. Take your feet out of the stirrup and give the horse some time to calm down.

  7. How do you control a horse that is bucking or rearing?
  8. In most cases, the rider should try to maintain their seat and use reins and legs cues to keep the horse under control. If the horse continues bucking or rearing, it’s important to dismount safely.

  9. What should be done if my horse is crossing its jaw?
  10. Try using a bit that provides better control or try a gag or hackamore to control the horse better.

Final Thoughts

Creating a good relationship between you and your horse is essential when it comes to gaining full control over your horse. Horses will always have their natural instincts and stubbornness, so it’s up to you as the rider to be patient and work with your horse.

By choosing the right bit, keeping a light hand, training to soften, and going back to the basics, you’re on the right track towards a horse that is more responsive and easy to control. Remember, every horse is unique and requires a unique kind of training and attention.

If you’re having problems controlling your horse, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional trainer or veterinarian for advice.

Understanding Different Types of Bits: Features, Benefits and Drawbacks

A bit is an essential horse riding equipment that plays a significant role in connecting the rider to the horse. It’s made of different materials and designs, each with its unique features, benefits, and drawbacks. With the many available options in the market, it can be challenging to find the right bit that works well for you and your horse.

This article will help you understand the different types of bits, their features, benefits, and drawbacks.

Wonder Bit/Gag Bit

The wonder bit, also known as the gag bit, applies pressure to the horse’s poll when the reins are pulled, making the horse’s head go up.

The goal is to get the horse’s attention and encourage them to respond quickly. This bit is commonly used in barrel racing, polo, and other high-speed competitions.


  • Encourages quick responses from horses
  • Useful for preventing horse bolting
  • Effective in improving a horse’s balance and collection


  • The pressure applied to the poll can cause discomfort and pain to the horse.
  • It requires skilled handling as it can easily be overused, causing harm to the horse.
  • It’s not suitable for beginner riders or inexperienced horses.

Cathedral Spoon Bit

The cathedral spoon bit is a type of Western bit that has a revolving central spoon-shaped piece designed to provide clearer communication between the rider and the horse. It’s best suited for more experienced riders who have mastered their riding skills, as the communication with the horse is more refined with this bit.


  • Provides the rider with a clear and precise communication tool with their horse
  • Offers better control for Western horses
  • Works well with trained and experienced horses


  • It requires experienced handling as it’s a more advanced bit.
  • May not be as comfortable as other types of bits for some horses.

Full Cheek Snaffle

The full cheek snaffle bit has cheekpieces on either side of the horse’s mouth, providing a stronger lateral control by allowing the rider to apply pressure on the opposite side of the horse’s mouth, making it easier to turn. It’s often used with beginner riders and horses, as it’s a mild and straightforward bit.


  • Provides lateral control for turning
  • Suitable for beginner riders and horses
  • Good for horses with a sensitive mouth


  • Its effectiveness can be limited for horses that require more control.


Kimberwick bit has both direct and leverage pressure action, with the reins connecting to the D-shape ring that the cheek arms protrude from. It’s an excellent option for strong horses with elevated heads that require direct and predictable control.


  • Provides better control for horses that require strong or gentle pressure
  • Suitable for strong horses with elevated heads
  • Ideal for horses that require more control even with less pull on the reins


  • It may not be a suitable bit for beginner riders or horses.
  • The leverage and direct pressure may confuse some horses.


The Pelham bit has two sets of reins attached to a single bit, which allows for better control in advanced horses. The rider can use one rein for a direct action, and the other for a leverage action. The Pelham is ideal for riders competing in high-speed competitions that require an emergency stop.


  • Allows for better control in advanced horses
  • Ideal for riders competing in high-speed competitions
  • Effective for an emergency stop


  • It’s not recommended for beginner riders or inexperienced horses.
  • Can be less effective if not fitted correctly.

Waterford Bit

The Waterford bit is made up of a series of links loosely connected in a round shape, allowing it to contour to the horse’s mouth. It’s widely used to prevent leaning in horses that tend to resist the bit.


  • Reduces resistance caused by leaning
  • Conforms well with horses’ mouths
  • Effective in facilitating communication and control between the rider and the horse


  • It may not be suitable for horses with sensitive mouths.
  • Some horses may find it uncomfortable.

Loose-Ring Snaffle

The loose-ring snaffle is an elementary type of bit suitable for use on most horses. It’s a basic, straightforward design with a free-moving ring that allows the horse to move their mouth and jaw freely.


  • Simple and easy to use
  • Suitable for most horses
  • Provides a more relaxed and comfortable fit for some horses


  • It may not be ideal for horses that require a stronger or more direct action.
  • The loose ring can pinch, and the horse can easily grab onto it, which can be distracting for the rider.


Hackamore is an alternative to the bit and is often used in western show disciplines. It’s a unique bridle that uses a noseband instead of the bit to control the horse.

The noseband applies pressure to the horse’s muzzle when pulled by the reins, giving the rider a better means of control.


  • Alternative to the bit
  • Provides high levels of control to the rider
  • Good for horses with mouth/sensory issues


  • It requires experienced handling as it is an unconventional piece of equipment.
  • Not useful for riders competing in English show disciplines.


The type of bit you use on your horse can affect how well you’re able to communicate and control it. Understanding the different types of bits, their features, benefits and drawbacks are essential in choosing the right equipment that meets your horse’s needs and improves your riding experience.

Always seek the advice of a professional trainer or veterinarian when selecting equipment for your horse. It’s also important to maintain and clean your bits regularly for hygiene, comfort, and longevity.


Choosing the right bit is crucial to effective communication and control when riding horses. Different types of bits have distinct features, benefits, and drawbacks. They range from basic, straightforward designs such as the loose-ring snaffle to more advanced bits such as the wonder bit/gag bit and Pelham. When selecting the right bit for your horse, take into consideration your horse’s experience level, mouth sensitivity, training, and specific control issues.

Clean and maintain bits regularly for hygiene, comfort, and longevity, and seek the advice of a professional trainer or veterinarian when in doubt.


  1. Q: What should I consider when choosing a bit for my horse?
  2. A: Consider your horse’s experience level, mouth sensitivity, training, and control issues.

  3. Q: How do I clean and maintain my horse’s bit?
  4. A: Clean and maintain your horse’s bit regularly for hygiene, comfort, and longevity.

  5. Q: What is the best bit for beginners and new horses?
  6. A: The full cheek snaffle is a simple and straightforward bit, suitable for beginners and new horses.

  7. Q: What types of bits are suitable for high-speed competitions?
  8. A: Wonder bit/gag bit and Pelham bits are suitable for high-speed competitions.

  9. Q: What is a hackamore, and when is it useful?
  10. A: Hackamore is an alternative to a bit, providing high levels of control to the rider, and is useful for horses with mouth/sensory issues.

Popular Posts