I tried a new bit today, so I thought I would provide a history of PJ’s bits, realizing that the greatest acceptance of a given bit has to do with the rider’s hands.
Bit #1: H-S KK Ultra. This is the go-to dressage bit. I chose it because I had it, and it is supposed to be a very mild bit. I also liked it over a single-jointed snaffle because it lacked the nut-cracker effect. PJ was okay with it but he started chomping in a bad way, which led to my search for another bit.
Here’s what Dover Saddlery says about it: KK Ultra loose ring Snaffle bit features a 21mm Aurigan mouthpiece and 70mm rings (sizes 4 1/4″ and 4 1/2″ have 55mm rings). Made in Germany since 1872. KK Ultra bits are the result of extensive research performed at the Veterinary University in Hanover, Germany which determined that a horse’s palate is smaller and flatter, leaving very limited space for a bit. Herm Sprenger has used this information to develop the KK Ultra mouthpiece. To accommodate the narrower palate, the link in the middle was shortened and rotated by 45 degrees. When rein pressure is applied, the link rests entirely on the tongue. The sensitivity of a horse’s tongue allows the rider precise communication through the reins. KK Ultra bits are available in a wide variety of styles to suit most riding disciplines. Genuine patented Aurigan bits are manufactured only by Herm Sprenger, Aurigan is a nickle-free alloy comprised of 85% copper, 4% silicon and 11% zinc. The benefits of Aurigan bits have been confirmed through extensive studies at the University of Hanover in Germany. Aurigan rapidly oxidizes, producing a pleasant taste. This encourages most horses to chew and salivate, leading to a soft mouth and acceptance of the bit.
Bit #2: Happy Mouth Single Jointed Snaffle: Another mild bit. PJ liked the taste of the Happy Mouth but he opened him mouth more than the KK Ultra, so I only tried it for two or three days before switching back. Research has shown that there is only a small difference between the eggbutt and a loose ring, and this is the one I had, so this is the one I used.
Here’s what Dover says about this one: A favorite with top trainers, Happy Mouth bits are covered with a soft, flexible, yet extremely durable, apple-scented plastic which encourages acceptance and softness. This Flat Ring Jointed Eggbutt Snaffle Bit features a stainless steel core.
Bit #3: Happy Mouth Shapped Mullen. Barbara has had good luck with this bit – she has seen horses relax into the contact with this bit. PJ liked the taste as evidenced by the way he chewed it, but as I’ve been using it, he’s been opening his mouth more and more. Personally, I think it was just a little too big for his mouth. To my uneducated eyes, it looks like PJ has a low palate and a very thick tongue and spongy bars.
Dover’s commentary: A favorite with top trainers, Happy Mouth bits are covered with a soft, flexible, yet extremely durable, apple-scented plastic which encourages acceptance and softness. Straight mouth bits have an inner core of twisted wire for more flexibility.
Bit #4 (current) Myler MB02 Loose Ring Snaffle: I just tried this bit for the first time today. Barbara rode him first in it. She said that his mouth didn’t feel any different but that he seemed to come behind the vertical more but he also was going forward better. From the ground, I noticed he didn’t open his mouth as much. She thought that the BTV may be due to reasons other than the bit. I chose this bit because it is thinner, so hopefully fits better in his mouth. It is a cross between a mullen mouth and a snaffle – it doesn’ work like a normal double-jointed snaffle but each side works independently unlike a mullen. It doesn’t have a nut-cracker effect, either. Level 1 is the most mild as per Myler. I don’t know the difference to the horse between the MB02 and MB01 (smaller roller) mouthpieces, but people on the COTH BB seemed to have good luck with the MB02, so that’s the one I went with. When I rode him, I didn’t feel a difference either, which may be a good thing.
Here’s what Dover says: This Level 1 loose ring bit is for horses beginning training. The free-rotating barrel utilizes mostly tongue pressure and collapse onto the bars. The curved mouthpiece permits the horse to swallow more freely and distributes pressure evenly. Independent side movement allows the rider to isolate one side of the bit for bending, balancing or lifting a shoulder. It is now legal in dressage.
Each of the bits I purchased are all mild but all very different. There are certain bits that I knew I didn’t want to try, such as a hollow mouth snaffle, because I thought it would be too big, or anything more severe than a snaffle. Only time will tell if he likes the Myler, as with the other bits PJ went different on subsequent days as he did on the first day. I guess everyone needs a full bit drawer right????!!!