How do I find the right bit for my horse?

Bits are the means of communication between rider and horse. They are intended to pass on the rider's aids to the horse directly and specifically. In order for a bit to achieve the desired effect as well as possible, 2 things are important. Shape and size must fit the anatomy of the horse. Besides, it must be correctly buckled.

When choosing the size of the bit, you have to consider two factors in particular:

The width of the bit

It is important that bits are correctly buckled. There should be no more than 0.5 cm space between the mouth angle and the bit ring / side part on the right and left. With loose ring snaffles, the bit ring should be able to slide freely through the ring hole. Otherwise it can pinch the mouth corners.

But what about bits with fixed side parts (e.g. eggbutt and D-ring bits, Full Cheeks and Pelhams)? Many people do not know that these should always be one size smaller than loose ring snaffles. The best effect of these bits is achievable when the side part is close to the corner of the mouth. The bit lies steadier in the horse's mouth and with the help of the side parts a more lateral effect is the result.

The bit thickness

The bit thickness should be adapted to the anatomical conditions of the horse's mouth. In cooperation with the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover we have carried out a measurement of the oral cavities.  It showed that the horse's mouth cavity is smaller and flatter than before assumed. Also, no conclusion is possible from the size of a horse to the size of the mouth cavity.

With the help of a horse dentist or the "2-finger test" it is possible to find out how much space there is in the horse's mouth. This is how you can also determine the required bit thickness: Place the index and middle fingers in the horse's mouth at the (toothless) place where the bit lies. Push the tongue to the side and wait until the horse starts to chew and the incisors come together. If the distance between the upper and lower cheeks is small, you can feel pressure on both fingers. The recommended thickness is then 14 - 16 mm. If the distance between upper and lower jaw is greater, you will hardly feel any pressure on your fingers. The recommended thickness is then 16 - 18 mm.

If a too thick bit is chosen, there is a risk that pressure is exerted on the sensitive palate. This can cause pressure points and injuries. In any case it is unpleasant for the horse and can lead to head bangs, opening of the mouth or pushing against the hand.

But also a bit that is too thin is not ideal for many horses and riders. The pressure distribution is then more selectively. This makes it necessary to provide sensitive aids.

There are innumerable bit models and forms available on the market. It is not so difficult to make a choice with a little basic knowledge about the most common bit styles.


Single jointed bits

Single jointed bits send the rider's rein aid over the tongue edges and the lower jaw bones to the horse's mouth. When the reins are tightened, the joint in the middle of the mouthpiece is slightly raised. This increases the pressure on the edges of the tongue.

The described "setting up" of the bit is often referred to as the "nutcracking effect". The lower jaws are pinched and/or the eye of the joint presses into the horse's palate. This is especially the case if the bit used is by far too large or too thick for the corresponding horse's mouth. Especially horses with a flat palatal arch actually run the risk of pressure points or even injuries to the palate.

The two pieces of standard single jointed bits are of different lengths for production reasons. There is always a little bit more pressure on one side of the tongue. It is thus recommended to turn Single jointed bits regularly. This is not necessary with Turnado or single jointed Dynamic RS bits from Sprenger. The joint has been turned forwards by 45°. This special angulation allows an even effect on both tongue edges.



Double jointed bits

Double jointed bits have shorter side pieces, which are connected by a middle piece. The pressure caused by the reins is distributed over a larger area of the tongue. This is different to single jointed bits.

With the double jointed Sprenger Sensogan bits there is no palatal pressure. The reason is the specially adapted and forward angled middle piece.

The variety of double and single jointed bits available on the market as well as the price range is huge. Especially if you have a sensitive horse, it is important to choose a bit that matches to the horse's mouth. Sprenger is a pioneer in the development of bit styles adapted to the anatomy of the horse's mouth. Our knowledge results from scientific research and practical tests by professionals.

Find the right bit in 4 easy steps

Find the perfect bit for your horse

with the bit guide from Sprenger

Harmony on horse-back starts with a well-fitting bit.
The bit operates as a method of communication between rider and horse. It directs the riders rein aids straight to the horse’s mouth. As the mouth is one of the most sensitive parts of the horse’s body it is important to
treat it very carefully. A bit should be adapted to the individual shape of a horse’s mouth and should neither be uncomfortable nor awkward for the horse in any way.
Choosing the right bit allows effective communication through the reins between rider and horse – a basic requirement for correct riding.