I have talked about the proper understanding and use of the western saddle and how it is one of the most misunderstood tools of horse communication. Well if the use of the saddle is one of the most misunderstood when the proper selection and use of bits are the most confusing to both novice and experienced horse owner today. In fact, I have found all too many trainers that have very little knowledge in this area of working with horses and do not have the ability to pass on their students the importance of bit knowledge and use.

Most people today feel that they don’t have the time or the ability to learn what they need to know about bits, but in reality, it all starts with the hands of the rider. They want to develop a good set of hands, what I call “soft hands”, will actually make you want to learn more about the proper use of bits which will then lead to the development of a better seat and allow for additional progression. This is how people become knowledgeable horse owners that leads to the start of becoming a “Horseman”.


There is one phrase that I constantly use when doing any work with horses and it is “there is no one-size fits all answer” and the area of bits is no different. If you purchased your horse and a bit was included it doesn’t mean that is the best bit for that horse and here is why. All bits fit and set differently inside of the horse’s mouth and since that is true all bits react differently in a horse’s mouth, not to mention that each bit works in a somewhat different way from the other.

The best example I can come up with is a new pair of boots for you. You look at them and you study them and think that these are the boots that would be the best that you could get. The next step is to try them on and guess what, they don’t feel good and are uncomfortable once that they are on your feet. You become frustrated, uncomfortable and uneasy let’s face it all you want to do is get those boots off of your feet. Starting to understand where I am going here?

Those boots were a decision that you thought would be a good one but turned out to be the wrong boots for you. Sure, they looked great when they were on the shelf, but once they were on your feet it was a totally different story. The horse is no different from you; the bit that works for your horse has to be chosen by the horse since they are the one that has to wear it.

Let’s take a quick look at the entire process of introducing the horse to the bit and the time factor that is involved in creating what is referred to as a finished horse. It can take anywhere from two to four years to properly and completely create a finished bridle horse. So, it is understandable that when a horse that should be calm and easy to get along with starts to become frustrated, uncomfortable and uneasy one of the first places to look to is the bit that is being used.

Learning about how bits work as well as the proper fitting of the bit to the mouth of the horse is one of the first areas to expand your knowledge of horsemanship. Learning that one simple step can lead to a much more enjoyable ride and a better relationship between you and your horse and help to create that easy to get along with the horse.

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