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Monday, January 26, 2009

A Bit About Bits

I want to deviate from speaking mainly about tacky tack in the fashion sense. I want to talk about one of the tack items out there that I consider to be just plain barbaric. With the increasing popularity of gaming and speed events, I am seeing more and more horses that are poorly trained or just plain crazy being ridden with more hardware than an entire Home Depot. These horses are usually ridden by children or young teenaged girls. Instead of properly training a horse, or going and investing the money in an already trained one, Parents living their dreams through their children are going out and buying any old horse that can run fast, shoving one of THESE into their mouths, strapping on a tie-down and turning them loose.

These contraptions ought to be illegal. This should be considered abuse. I have seen the nosebands be made from everything from lariat rope to saw-edged bicycle chain. I saw one recently that had the noseband made from a solid steel bar! The mouthpieces are usually a thin twisted wire snaffle gag and the shanks can range from 3 to 9 (!!!) inches long. The amount of leverage these can exert is unreal. Bits like this are intended to be used on horses that have NO feeling left in their heads and by an experienced horseperson. Not a 10 year old girl. This is NOT a miracle fix. These can cause far more damage in inexperienced hands than years of training can repair. In my humble opinion, if you cannot safely control your horse without one of these you have no business being on it. I have recently seen a similar bit being sold in a popular mail-order catalog being touted as a “3 piece twisted sweet iron wire with dog bone snaffle. 3" ring, 5" mouth. A wonderful bit for older colts, young horses or any soft mouthed horse. This bit picks up the nose first, then gently picks up his mouth until mouth and curb tighten for gentle but all over "nose, bars, lips, chin and face". Works well with any type martingale or draw reins.” WHAT?! Are you people insane? Let’s add MORE leverage with a martingale or draw reins.

Holy crap, my horse would flip over backward if I used this on her. She goes in a simple French link snaffle and it barely takes a twitch of my pinky finger to stop her. I had a friend growing up that had a barrel horse that used one of these, that animal was dangerous. They had progressed to increasingly more severe bits until this was all that would come close to stopping him, and then it was debatable. Many times I saw blood flying from his gaping, foaming mouth. It was not a hardware issue with him, rather a software one. He had never been properly programmed. ALL he could do was RUN. That was all he wanted to do. He was ruined because of this, the combination of the punishing bit pulling his head UP and the too-short tie-down pulling DOWN; he was forced to run in an unnatural position. He became broken winded and was discarded in favor of a new horse.


  1. I have only EVER ridden in a snaffle... those bits look SCARY

  2. I agree with what you're saying in regards to certain bits being in the wrong hands but I disagree with you claiming most of these bits are "harsh".

    I think you should educate yourself a little more on bits before you preach on what's harsh and what's not harsh.

    I ride my horse in a Million dollar bit. He is never in pain, he simply needs more to lift his shoulder. Thing is, I don't have to TOUCH the rains to stop him because he trained properly. These bits serve different puposes, we don't use them to achieve anything more than the goal in mind. My gelding also rides in a plain old snaffle at home.

    As for your friend, her horse obviously needed more training. Any experienced person in speed events could point out the obvious. I guess that's why some barrel racers get the stereotype on having "crazy, over bit-ed horses" because some idiot didn't get the proper training memo.

  3. Hmm.. this quote comes to mind: "Do not use a cannon to kill a mosquito." -- Confucius

  4. I have to agree with ScottiRobot, I ride my horses in a million dollar martha josey and not for control but for lifting their shoulder more. Its not harsh in the least, the cheap jeffers equine version with the 7 inch shanks on the other hand... i have seen a stupid woman flip her horse over because it was too much bit for him. The barrel racer stereotype comes from the idiots who plain out can't ride for crap.

  5. wow i use that bit and scottierobot is right u have no idea what u are talking about! My horse need some help with her turns in barrel racing and this did the trick and plus i have seen a girl ride who has been riding since she was 2 and she uses this bit because the horse needs it. DO YOU BARREL RACE???? I THINK NOT SO EDUCATE UR SELF BEFORE U TALK CRAP ABOUT SOMETHING YOU DONT KNOW ABOUT!!!! and plus half the bits just look scary when really they may not even effect the horse. Yea i have to say most the bits on here are horrible and not neccery but this bit is not one of them. Thanks honey for trying but lets just say U KNOW NOTHING!!