Despite the wide variety of bits available on the market, the principles of bitting can really break things back down to basics. There are in total considered to be five bit groups in total. These are:

  • the Snaffle
  • the Weymouth
  • the Pelham
  • the Gag
  • the Bitless Bridle

All of these five types of bit act on one or more of the seven parts of the horse’s head which the bit can affect. These seven areas are as follows:

  • The corners of the mouth
  • The bars of the mouth
  • The tongue
  • The curb groove (underneath the chin)
  • The poll
  • The nose

From this there follows what is sometimes referred to as the ‘Law of the Bit’, which is as follows:

“the action and pressures applied through the agency of the bit to the head and mouth vary in intensity and character according to four factors:

  • The construction of the bit itself
  • The conformation of the mouth
  • The angle at which the mouth is placed/held in relation to the hand
  • The type and fit of any accessory to the principal bit action

The action of the bit and the results produced can be made more or less effective in relation to the rider’s ability to use other supporting aids in addition to the bit.”

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at the different types of bit available, their actions and how best the bit can be fitted according to the conformation of the mouth. This is to be a simply educational guide, and if you are looking for assistance in choosing the right bit for your horse we highly recommend that you contact a specialist bit-fitter.