Assessing your horse’s mouth
When it comes to choosing a bit for your horse, it is not just his/her way of going which needs to be taken into account when choosing a bit. The oral anatomy of each horse varies significantly.
By oral anatomy, we mean how thick and fleshy his lips and tongue appear; how much room there is between the tongue and the upper palate (roof of the mouth); whether his teeth align correctly; if the bars of the mouth are thick or thin.
By assessing oral anatomy we can thoroughly asses what types of mouthpiece are likely to sit well within the mouth. Some ideas of what we discuss and recommend are outlined below:
Thinner mouthpieces (10mm, 12mm, 14mm)
The 10mm thick mouthpieces have been designed to fit pony mouths perfectly.
12mm – 14mm thicknesses are useful for horses which have thicker tongues and lips. The thinner mouthpieces deliver a more intense pressure (your rein aid is delivered over a smaller surface area of the tongue and lips and is therefore slightly stronger, think of a stiletto in contrast to a regular heel); we find this is ideal for cob types which are a little less responsive to the rein aid than you ideally want.
Thinner mouthpieces are also useful if you have a horse with little room in the mouth as the thinner mouthpieces take up less room in the mouth. For example the horse below is quite fleshy in the lip so a thinner mouthpiece will result in a more intense pressure and a more responsive ride.
Best-selling mouthpiece (16mm)
We have referred to the 16mm as our best-selling mouthpiece; if you are confused by all the jargon and are comfortable that your horse is fairly average in terms of oral anatomy a 16mm will offer a good weight bearing surface and is well accommodated by most horses.
For younger horses we tend to recommend a 16mm+ thickness mouthpiece to help them become comfortable with taking the bit. Thinner mouthpieces can occasionally result in young horses backing off the bit as the pressure can be a little too sharp when establishing basic acceptance of the rein aids.
Thicker mouthpieces (18mm, 21mm)
Thicker mouthpieces tend not to be as popular as they were some years ago. Many riders used to use thicker mouthpieces such as German hollow mouth snaffles as they believed thicker mouthpieces were far milder in action and therefore kinder to their horse.
We find mouthpieces of this nature can be too thick and can actually impede the horse’s way of going as they can prevent horses from closing their mouths properly.
We tend to recommend 18mm and 21mm thick mouthpieces for horses that back off the contact and are very sensitive in the mouth as they are milder in action. If you opt for a thicker mouthpiece, we recommend checking that your horse has adequate room to accommodate the bit in his mouth.
What type of bit is best? Take a look through the Neue Schule bits to get a feel for different types of high-quality bit.
How do I know what size bit my horse needs?
I have no breaks but I don't want to come out of snaffles, what do you recommend?