As Seen on HorseCity.com TV with Dale Myler
Bit chomping and open mouth
Leaning against the hand
Tightness in the poll and jaw
Staying behind the bit
Hanging his tongue out
Lack of lateral suppleness
Whether your horse wears a snaffle, curb, gag or tom thumb bit on his bridle, proper bit fit is critical to success under saddle.
Is your horse trying to tell you that his bit doesn't fit? Like many horse enthusiasts, you may not recognize that your horse has a problem with his bit. How does he try to tell you? The only way he can - through his behavior and bit evasions.
These evasions sometimes are not obvious. Those subtle and annoying habits that prevent him from relaxing and giving you his best may indicate that he's not happy with his bit.
What often appears as a training problem may be the result of an ill-fitting bit. A simple measurement with easy to use The Original BitFit is the first step towards getting it right every time.
| While some horses have custom fit saddles, proper leg protection, and a great nutrition program, many horses are still faced with performing in a bit that is too small or too large for their mouths. The Original BitFit eliminates the guesswork & insures proper bit fit every time, resulting in a more comfortable horse - no more wasted money on unreturnable bits or training fees. The Original BitFit, an essential tool for every barn.
A 5 inch bit does NOT fit all
- By Kim Newell
For years I have struggled with a horse that I have affectionately referred to as obnoxious. It was only after a visit with Dale Myler, founder of Myler Bits USA, in which we observed him bitting horses, that I realized my obnoxious horse was most likely not obnoxious at all. Instead my frustrated horse was trying to avoid pain and discomfort from an improperly fitting bit.
Upon our return from the Myler clinic, I put a larger bit on her bridle, and rather than fighting me, she responded much better to my requests. It was an instant improvement. I couldn't believe it! How simple! How could I have not known this? I knew about saddle fit, dental care and many other issues that affect a horse's comfort. Why didn't I know about bit fit?
Perhaps it is because it is easier for the large manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer to sell as few bit styles and sizes as possible. We all know that less inventory means less cost for everyone involved. We know that overseas manufacturers require very large quantities on each item . No wonder we are caught in the belief system that all horses wear a five-inch bit or that most horses do well in a five inch bit. But, this way of thinking has a price, and who's paying that price? Our horses.
After my investigation I have new found respect for bit manufacturers, large and small, who are willing to manufacture multiple sizes and styles of bits, as well as tack stores who make the extra investment and stock multiple sizes. All custom bit makers will ask before placing the order, what size is your horse's mouth? They know its importance. I believe the mass producers know the importance too, but it just doesn't fit into their business model. There are many custom bit makers in this country, large and small. Among the well known are Myler Bits USA and Reinsman Equestrian Products. They ALL deserve our support. Yes, you will pay more for your bit, but the benefits far exceed the costs, and may save valuable training dollars!
Dr. Joyce Harman, DVM, has written about the effect of tongue, head and neck anatomy on movement of the whole horse. If we all knew how the tongue affects the entire horse, I'm sure we would put a lot more effort into insuring that our horse's mouths and tongues were comfortable. Indeed, the bit truly is the most important piece of equipment that you put on your horse. How much money do we spend on saddles, pads and hoof products in order to keep our horses comfortable? Yet, the bit has just as much, if not more, impact on safety and performance.
Recognizing bit resistance is quite simple once you understand what to look for. The most common resistance behaviors are:
1. Bit chomping or open mouth.
2. Running away or leaning on you (pushing his weight on to his front end.)
3. Head shaking or tossing.
4. Staying behind the bit (putting his nose to his chest.)
5. Keeping his head high (nose in air.)
6. Hanging his tongue out.
Of course, any problem behavior could indicate a bitting issue, but the above are the most common. It only makes sense to take a look at bitting whenever there is a behavioral issue under saddle, just like you would assess the saddle and overall soundness of the horse. A bit change very often gives immediate, dramatic results. I recently sold an Original BitFit equine mouth measurement tool to an east coast trainer who said, "Ninety percent of the problem horses people bring to me have bit issues." I don't know if that holds true with trainers nationwide, but I do find that observation quite interesting.
First, you need to check that the size of the bit fits your horse's mouth. Many experts agree that a bit that is not sized correctly not only causes pain and discomfort, but it cannot work effectively. Just take notice of the flurry of recent articles in national publications about sizing a bit correctly.
Dr. Hilary Clayton, veterinarian at MSU, conducted a yearlong bit study, funded by the USEA, that examined and compared the position and movements of different types and sizes of bits in the horse's mouth using fluoroscopy, which provides a moving radiographic view. A Horsecity.com article states, "Dr. Clayton believes many factors need to be taken into consideration: namely the size and shape of the horse's mouth. Dr. Clayton believes bit size is a more crucial measurement than most people think. She advises measuring the width from lip to lip on your horse, and adding1/4" to get the proper measurement for your bit."
In order to make the measuring process accurate, simple, and safe, we have invented and manufacture the patent pending Original BitFit, an equine mouth measurement tool.
Once the measurement is obtained, you must also measure your bit, as bit manufacturers do size differently. Some are 1/4" larger or smaller than the labeled size. For a jointed bit, the bit should be approximately 1/4" larger than the mouth. For a non-jointed bit, you can use the exact mouth size or up to 1/4" larger.
If you are already using the correct size, next investigate bit style. It is very possible that your horse is experiencing too much tongue, bar or palate pressure with his current bit. There are resources available to help you determine what your horse needs in terms of a bit, however, my recommendation is to consult a true bitting expert.
Choosing the correct style is not a science, and requires knowledge that most of us do not have. Trying to do it yourself could result in a lot of frustration and wasted money, since tack stores don't usually allow the return of used bits. Unfortunately, there are currently very few bitting experts. Do not assume that every trainer is experienced and knowledgeable about bitting. There are many wonderful, talented trainers who may know more than you about bitting, but that still are not an expert in that area. Check with a custom bit manufacturer. They may have recommendations for bit fitting experts in your area or they may offer advice. For example, Myler USA offers a free phone consultation. They have bitted thousands of horses successfully, from the novice to the Olympic level.
If we put as much thought and effort into bitting our horses as we do into purchasing a saddle or choosing a trainer, there'd be a lot more really good horses out there. Please email me your thoughts, and by all means, if you are a bitting clinician, let me know and I'll add you to my website.
RON, DALE, & BOB MYLER- Myler Bits, USA
"Not all horses wear a 5" bit. That is one reason we make custom Myler bits at our shop in Marshfield, Missouri. Bit size is critical to your horse's performance. If it is not sized to the mouth, the bit cannot work effectively at the pressure points. This creates confusion and discomfort for the horse, and causes undesirable behaviors.
BitFit is the only product we've seen that is easy to use, accurate, effective, and designed with the horse's comfort in mind. We will suggest that all of our customers use BitFit before purchasing a Myler bit.
BitFit is a "MUST HAVE" basic that should be in every barn. We like BitFit so well, we're recommending its use in our seminars, as well as making it available on our website at http://www.mylerbitsusa.com/
ANNETTE GAVIN - NeuSchule Bitting Clinician
"In the bit clinics I do all over the US, I have been using the BitFit to ensure the fit is exact during custom fittings. Using this measuring device, I have found that I can get exactly the right fit with many different style bits."
Suzanne & G.G.
| "I got the bitfit in my horse's mouth by pretending it was a bridle. I took her real bridle and pretended to put it in. When she opened her mouth, I slipped the bitfit in and she sloshed it around a little and then I was able to use it. I found out the bit I was using was a little big for her so thank you. I will use this on all my students and their horses."|
ANKE LENDECKEL-ACKLEY, Owner of Nature's Rehab
"As an equine health therapist, I have become aware of how much the whole mouth/bit comfort issue can influence attitude and performance. The jaw is in direct connection to several muscles that connect the head with the forequarters. We often don't give this enough thought, although most of us care greatly about our horse's well-being. Choosing the right bit that fits properly is the first step in promoting trouble-free performance and overall health."
Chief Judge, USPC
Producer of DVD: Understanding Bits
"Over half of the bits I see in horse's mouths are not properly fitted. Finding the proper bit size is critical to a horse's performance. BitFit offers a very easy and precise way to correctly measure a horse's mouth for a bit."
MARI MONDA ZDUNIC
USDF gold medalist & Author of American Dressage III
"This is a great device for accurately and comfortably measuring a horse's mouth to help anyone select the bit that fits their horse."
DRESSAGE TODAY, MARCH 2005
"Finding the right size bit is crucial for your horse's well-being and the quality of your ride...you can purchase a bit-measuring tool, which is more accurate and safer to use than a string."
Dr. HILARY CLAYTON
USDF CONNECTION, JUNE 1999
"Most horses seem to be most comfortable with a jointed snaffle mouthpiece that is only slightly longer (from ring to ring) than the width of the horse's mouth (from lip to lip). Note that you can buy a device designed to measure the width of the horse's mouth."