What is the best bit for a young horse?

What is the best bit to start a young horse off in? Most people have told me a double-jointed eggbutt snaffle, but my youngster doesn’t seem to like it. 

Asked by Bruce Ryden

There are two things you need to take into account. Firstly, what makes you conclude that your horse doesn’t like the bit? A lot of difficulties in the connection can be traced back to, for example, the saddle, the seat of the rider, or the natural crookedness of the horse.

A young horse is also not used to having a bit in his mouth so he needs time to accept the bit. The time that a horse needs to accept the bit, and keep his mouth closed and quiet with the bit in, varies from horse to horse.

Finding the most suitable bit for any horse requires time and effort. The double-jointed eggbutt snaffle is, as pointed out, one of the most commonly used bits to start a young horse with. The double-joint spreads the pressure more equally in the horse’s mouth. The fixed bit rings enable to bit to find a steady position in the horse’s mouth. However, there is no hard and fast rule. 

When trying a bit, take the following into consideration:

  • Does your horse have any medical or dental issues affecting his mouth? It is possible that your horse does not like the bit simply because he has sharp points on his teeth. In this instance, changing the bit will not make a difference. 
  • How is the anatomy of the horse’s mouth? Where is the bit resting in the mouth? Some horses simply have more space than others for the bit. It is a common misconception that a thin bit is sharper, yet a thick bit in a small mouth can feel uncomfortable for a horse.

The best way to find the right bit is to try several and pay close attention to your horse’s response. Make sure you give your horse sufficient time to adjust to the bit. If the bit is correctly sized, and your horse has a closed mouth and does not give an extreme reaction to the bit, then try the bit for a week or two. 

Answered by Equine Support International

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