Prerequisite for a correctly fitted bit is a correctly and not too tight buckled noseband. The bit should be chosen in the appropriate size and must be fitted close to the corners of the mouth. If you cannot put the headpiece of the bridle over the horse’s ears easily, the bit is buckled too high. If the cheek piece is shaking after taking up the reins, the bit is buckled too low.
All Sprenger bits that are marked with an arrow at the side of the mouthpiece have to be positioned correctly in the horse’s mouth. In order to ensure Optimum effectiveness the arrow has to point forwards on the left hand side.
Conventional loose ring
Bits not being marked with an arrow may be positioned in any direction. This normally applies to standard single jointed or straight mullen mouth bits. Standard single jointed bits have a production related characteristic: one part of the mouthpiece is longer than the other which results in stronger influence on one tongue half. To prevent exerting uneven pressure in the long term you should turn the bit around periodically.
If you want to avoid the problem of exerting uneven pressure due to a single jointed bit you can use our Turnado or single jointed Dynamic RS bits. The joint of these bits has been turned forward by 45 degrees in order to guarantee an even distribution of pressure on both sides of the tongue.
Single jointed bits forward the riders rein aids to the tongue-edges and the lower jaw bones. When giving a rein aid the bit forms a V-shape and exerts pressure to the tongue edges. This can be described as “nutcracker” action.
The V shape may cause problems for horses with a flat palate and small oral cavity or if you choose a too large bit size for your horse. In these cases the eye of the joint might press into the sensitive palate which is uncomfortable for your horse and could even cause bruises or injuries.
Standard single jointed bits have a production related characteristic: one part of the mouthpiece is longer than the other which results in stronger influence on one tongue edge. To prevent exerting uneven pressure in the long term you should turn the bit around periodically.
If you want to avoid the problem of exerting uneven pressure due to a single jointed bit you can use our Turnado or single jointed Dynamic RS bits. The joint of these bits has been turned forward by 45 degrees in order to guarantee an even distribution of pressure on both tongue sides.
Double jointed bits
Compared to single jointed bits, double jointed bits distribute the pressure from rein aids more evenly and over a wider surface onto the tongue, without exerting pressure to the sensitive palate.
All double jointed bits from Sprenger made of Sensogan and Aurigan are anatomically adapted to the horse’s mouth. The middle link has been shortened and angled forward in order to make it more comfortable for the horse and to achieve the best possible effect.
Loose ring snaffles transmit the pressure from the rein aids directly onto the tongue and the lower jaw without leverage action on the neck. (Pressure on the neck may be caused by the noseband.)
The moveable rings may help to slightly compensate and balance an unsteady and unexperienced rider’s hand. Also, the horse may slightly lift the bit in its mouth by stretching the tongue in order to evade too strong pressure from rein aids in the short term.
Loose ring snaffles are suitable for all horses of all disciplines and educational levels. These kinds of bits are particularly suitable for breaking in a horse and familiarise young horses to bit and bridle.
A loose ring snaffle should not leave more than 5 mm space between the corners of the mouth and the bit ring on each side. It should also not be chosen too tight, since it must not pinch the corners of the mouth.
Eggbutt, D-Ring and Full Cheek snaffles
Same as loose ring snaffles Eggbutt, D-Ring and Full Cheek snaffles transmit the pressure from the rein aids directly onto the tongue and the lower jaw without leverage action on the neck. Due to the fixed cheeks the rein aids reach the tongue more direct, aids from unsteady and unexperienced rider’s hands cannot be compensated or balanced out.
The fixed cheeks help to keep the bit steady and calm in the horse’s mouth. The smooth transitions from the mouthpiece to the cheeks make these bits suitable for horses with sensitive corners of the mouth. Due to the wider contact surface from the cheeks on the corners of the mouth, these bits additionally support the rider’s guarding and sideways acting rein aids.
The higher the contact surface the higher the lateral influence, which means that the above described effect is even higher with D-Ring and Full Cheeks bits.
These bits are highly recommended for horses with sensitive corners, horses that tend to play with the bit and therefore give the rider an unsteady contact and for horses that tend to fall out while riding turns or approaching an obstacle. Since these bits are more direct than loose ring snaffles, the rider should not have an unsteady or too strong a hand.
Due to the fixed side parts the bit should be chosen in a size that the cheeks fit closely to both mouth corners without pinching the lips – so that they are normally ½ - 1 cm smaller than loose ring snaffles.
Bits with additional lever action on the poll
When pulling the reins using a B-Ring, Baucher or Multi Ring bit, pressure is distributed from the tongue onto the lower jaw and then onto the poll. In this way the rider achieves more control over horses that can get strong and evade upwards as the horse normally reacts with lowering the head trying to dodge this pressure. The B-Ring or Baucher bit is also suitable for preparing Dressage horses for being ridden with a Weymouth. This type of bits can not be recommended for horses that tend to evade downwards or push down against the rider’s hand.
When using 3-Ring bits the optimal effect is achieved by using two reins. The main rein in the large ring acts on tension (tongue and lower jaw), the second rein in the lower ring can exert pressure on the poll through the cheek Piece if required. However, a prerequisite for this is a skilled and sensitive rider's hand.
The horse is very sensitive around the nuchal Ligament where bursae are located that can become inflamed from too much or strong pressure. Aids on the poll should therefore only be given when required.
With pressure on the poll the horse reacts with lowering the head. Especially when riding up to a fence, the horse should be able to raise its head for appraising the fence and to balance itself.
Bits with additional lever action on the poll and lower jaw
e.g. Pelham, Weymouth or Kimblewick
These bits act on three different parts of the horse’s head: over the tongue onto the bars, by lever action of the lower cheeks on the poll and through the curb chain on the chin groove. The rein aid is therefore distributed to several pressure points on the horse’s head. This enables the rider to give clearer instructions and to get more control over strong and powerful horses.
Weymouth bits are prescribed by the regulations for certain levels of Dressage competitions. Pelham and Kimblewick bits are mainly used in Jumping, Cross Country and Hunting competitions, but are also popular among leisure time riders with strong horses in the terrain. A correct Basic education and rideability are necessary when using these bits.
As the chin is very sensitive and only covered with a thin layer of skin it makes sense to use a curb chain guard as a cushion.
Buckling and selection of sizes:
The upper ring is buckled into the cheek piece of the snaffle / Weymouth. The curb chain should be attached so that the lower part allows an angle between 30 - 40° when pulling the rein. Please take care that the curb chain is turned out correctly. Due to the fixed side parts the bit should be chosen in a size that the cheeks fit closely to both mouth corners without pinching the lips – so that they are normally ½ - 1 cm smaller than loose ring snaffles.
Please consider: The horse is very sensitive around the nuchal ligament where bursae are located that can become inflamed from too much or strong pressure. Aids on the poll should therefore only be given when required. With pressure on the poll the horse reacts with lowering the head. Especially when riding up to a fence, the horse should be able to raise its head for appraising the fence and to balance itself. Bits that provide lever action should only be used by skilled and experienced riders.>/font>
The tongue gets fixed between mouthpiece and bars when pulling the lower rein strongly. Too much or strong pressure can jam the tongue and disturb the blood flow.
Bridles with action on the poll, nose and lower jaw
e. g. Hackamore
The Hackamore firstly acts on the poll when pulling the reins then evenly on the chin dimple and the bridge of the nose. The Action is made on three different parts of the horse’s head. The Hackamore is normally used bitless which completely relieves the tongue with this bridle.
The Hackamore has to be buckled so that there is about 2 fingers space between bridge of the nose (not cantilever nasal bone) and noseband. The cheek piece is buckled into the upper ring, the rein into the lower ring at the bottom of the side part. With a so-called Kombi-Hackamore you can additionally attach a bit to the hackamore and use all four pressure Points of the horse’s head.
Hackamores can be recommended for horses with injuries in the mouth area or Horse that are dissatisfied with pressure on their tongue. Hackamores are not suitable for young horses or inexperienced riders. Single sided rein aids are almost impossible with a bitless bridle. The rider should therefore be able to ride the horse with weight and leg aids.
The bit operates like a communication channel between rider and horse. As the mouth is one of the most sensitive parts of the horse’s body it is important to treat it very carefully. Therefore a bit should be sized and fitted to the individual anatomic shape of the mouth as well as to the characteristic needs of the horse and should never be uncomfortable or awkward in any way.
There are two factors to consider when choosing the size of a bit: - Width - Thickness
Bits with loose rings
With correct attaching of bit with loose rings, there should not be more than 0.5 cm space on the right and left between mouth corner and bit ring. The ring should always be freely movable and should not pinch the mouth corner.
Bits with fixed cheeks
e. g. eggbutt, Full cheek or D-Ring bits
Bits with fixed cheekpieces such as eggbut or D-ring bits should fit closely to both mouth corners and must therefore be Chosen smaller than loose ring snaffles. Due to the contact of the cheek to the corner of the mouth the rider achieves additional support from the rein aids.
The double bridle consists of a weymouth and a bradoon. The bradoon should equal the standard snaffle in size and shape because it lies at the same position in the horse’s mouth. The weymouth is positioned a Little bit lower where the horses head gets thinner. We recommend to choose the weymouth 0,5 to 1 cm smaller than the bradoon in order to achieve the best possible effect and to make it most comfortable for the horse.
The thickness of a bit should be adapted to the anatomic needs of your horse. A study of Sprenger and the Veterinary University of Hanover found that the oral cavity of horses is fairly small and the available space for a bit can be very limited. You cannot draw conclusions from the body size of your horse to its oral cavity.
To find out what thickness you should choose for your horse you can try the “2-finger-test”. You just need to put your index and middle finger together and insert them in the horse’s mouth at the point where the bit usually lies. A small gap between the upper and lower jawbone will exert pressure on both fingers and will require a thinner mouthpiece (14 – 16 mm) in order to fit comfortably. If you feel only little or no pressure on your fingers there is space for a thicker mouthpiece (16 - 18 mm).
Using a too thick bit will exert pressure on the sensitive palate and will cause bruises and injuries. The horse might react with head tossing, gaping its mouth or jerking on the reins.
Selected Herm. Sprenger dealers offer a special trial service to their customers: the HS Testcenter. The HS Testcenter offers a selection of different bit variations and sizes, that you can borrow and try on your horse.
We have marked all of our dealers offering a HS Testcenter with the yellow sign “with Testcenter”. Please find your local dealer by using our retailer search below.
The HS Testcenter is a service offered by your retailer. Please contact the HS Testcenter retailer for further information.
Mullen mouth bits are available in a large variety of shapes and materials. It is important to choose mullen mouth bits in the correct size for the horse as a bit that is too large can tilt and become uncomfortable for the horse when taking up the reins single-sided.
All rigid mullen mouth bits can descriptively be compared with a bicycle handlebar. The side of the mouthpiece where the rider gives a single-sided rein aid acts on the tongue, the opposite side moves forward towards the palate.
Mullen mouth bits are commended to be used by skilled and experienced riders only as single-sided rein aids and the development of flexion and bent are impossible with rigid mullen mouth bits (bicycle handlebar). Riders who use a mullen mouth bit should therefore be able to rider the horse with weight and leg aids.
A straight and rigid bar exerts steady and even pressure on the complete tongue (also the middle of the tongue).Compared to jointed bits less pressure is exerted on the tongue edges with straight bars. The stronger the reins are pulled the more pressure is directed onto the lower jaw bone via the tongue.
Straight mullen mouth bits can be recommended for horses that evade the rein aids and get strong e.g. when approaching an obstacle. In contrast to bridles with additional lever action on the poll (e.g. Pelham or Kimblewick) mullen mouth bits can also be used for horses that dodge downwards and lean on the bit.
Mullen mouth bits with port
Compared to straight mullen mouth bits no steady pressure is exerted onto the tongue with bits that have a port (e.g. KK Correction bit or CM mullen mouth).The middle of the tongue is more relieved with this bit shape and only squeezed with stronger rein aids.
These bits are suitable for horses that resist the rider`s hand, have particularly fleshy tongues or for the correction of tongue vices of horses that perceive pressure on the tongue as uncomfortable and evade this pressure by pulling up or sticking out the tongue sideward.
Flexible mullen mouth bits
Compared to rigid mullen mouth bits the effect of single-sided rein aids is slightly better with flexible bits. Pressure is also distributed over the complete tongue when pulling the reins, but gets stronger towards the tongue edges. The “bicycle handlebar effect” described above is therefore a little bit weakend.
Flexible mullen mouth bits (e.g. Flex Controlor Duo bit) can be recommended for horses that sometimes get strong or show unresponsiveness during the schooling of certain lessons or when approaching an obstacle. Flexible mullen mouth bits are often well accepted by horses that do not get along with jointed bits.
Deposits on the mouthpiece are normally caused by saliva or food remains. You can prevent the formation of remains by every-day cleaning of the bit with water and regular polishing with the Sprenger “Diamond Paste” which should be available at your local dealer.
Discolorations of the mouthpiece
Since Sensogan and Aurigan have a high copper content the material does tarnish over time. The tarnishing results from the material’s natural oxidation properties that are needed to encourage the production of saliva. Regular polishing of the bit with Sprenger “Diamond Paste”, available at your local dealer, helps to remove these discolorations.
Ideally you should clean your bit after every use by rinsing it thoroughly with water. This prevents discolorations caused from oxidation and deposits on the surface of the mouthpiece due to saliva or food remains.
Bits made of the innovative materials Sensogan and Aurigan contain copper. Due to the natural oxidation process (which is needed to encourage production of saliva) these bits may tarnish and lose its shiny finish after some time. The Sprenger Diamond Paste helps you to clean, maintain and put the sparkle back into tarnished Sensogan and Aurigan bits. The Diamond Paste is kind to the skin, non toxic, non acidic and it contains micro fine polishing granules.
To prevent Eggbut or D-Ring bits from squeaking, what may occur from rubbing of metal on metal, we recommend to thoroughly clean, rinse and oil the movable side part e.g. with cooking oil from time to time.
Duo or Rubber bits and bits with rubber parts should also be rinsed thoroughly after riding and checked for scratches, sharp edges or teeth marks. Especially if your horse tends to chew on the bit you should check the surface regularly in order to prevent injuries of the tongue and palate. Sprenger accepts no returns because of chew marks on the mouthpiece.
Sprenger produces high quality products with an above average durability. However, it is necessary to regularly check your products for proper condition and function. You should replace a product as soon as it presents a safety or health risk for horse or rider. In any case of doubt please contact your local dealer who will be happy to give you advice.
In general bits are used for everyday riding for a time period of several years. Especially older and often used bits should be checked for sharp edges in the ring holes or the eyes of the joint. Sharp edged or worn out bits might cause injuries and should be replaced.
You should also replace a bit when it shows sharp edges on the mouthpiece or if there are any cracks or deformation, e. g. due to a fall.
Bits made of Sensogan and Aurigan can be refurbished by grinding and polishing. Also sharp-edged ring holes that can occur after years of use can be repaired by grinding. A prerequisite is, however, that the bit is – apart from that – in a completely harmless and fully usable condition.