Basics & Effects

Bits for horses simply explained

The topic of bits runs through riding life. Either you are a proud new horse owner and would like to find out about the different types of bits, or you have a horse that no longer wants to wear the usual bit. In any case, before buying a new set of teeth, it makes sense to find out about the different types and materials. We give you basic knowledge about bits.

Single and double broken bits on white background

What is better?

Single & double jointed bits

There is actually no general answer to this question. It always depends on the combination of the horse and your riding style. Some horses prefer a single-jointed bit and others prefer a double-jointed bit. You should also take your own riding style into account when making your decision. If you have a stronger hand, the double-jointed bit is probably not the right choice.

Single broken dentures:

  • consists of the side rings (continuous or D-rings) and two legs that are movably connected in the middle
  • it acts on the horse's jaw and tongue
  • With one-sided rein aids, it is only applied to the mentioned load
  • possible to provide very differentiated help
  • Horse can counteract pressure for a short time by pressing the bit against the palate with the tongue
  • The "nutcracker effect" (the bit being raised when there is too much rein pressure) has now been refuted by studies

Double-jointed bits:

  • Double-jointed bit consists of side parts, two legs and an olive-shaped piece in the middle
  • it acts on the horse's tongue and jaw
  • encloses the tongue and lies more quietly in the mouth
  • Pressure should be better distributed
  • strong rein pressure it has a very strong effect on the load
  • If the pressure is too strong on both sides, the tongue is crushed
  • Horse can NOT escape this pressure when it presses the bit against the palate

Now which is better? Single or double broken?

Your horse will show you whether he likes the bit you have chosen or not. Signs of discomfort can include head banging, rolling, going against the bit, locking, tongue sticking out, throwing up and generally all signs of a lack of relaxation. These signs can appear very quickly or gradually over a few weeks. If you are using a new bit, pay close attention to your horse's cues.

A well-known saying on this subject is: The rider's hands determine how the bit works, not the bit itself.

Preview image of the denture molding video from Sprenger
Close-up of a snaffle bit on a white background

The classic

Water bridle

A snaffle bit is a bit with continuous rings. Snaffles only work when pulled. Since the ring is movable, it can compensate for a restless or untrained hand. The horse can also temporarily avoid excessive pressure by lifting its tongue.

All Loose Ring Bits

Loose ring bits are available as single-jointed and double-jointed bits, but also as bar bits. Multijoint bits are also available with continuous rings, but they are rather rare.

The water bridle is the classic bit, with which all horses usually run well and are trained.

Close-up of the olive head dentition on a white background

Direct effect

Olive head bit

Olive head bits are comparable in their effectiveness to loose ring bits, but the rein aids are transmitted more directly. The firm connection between the mouthpiece and ring means that the bit sits quietly in the horse's mouth. This bit also makes it easier to guide the horse laterally.

All olive head bits

Olive head bits are not recommended for young horses if the horse is not yet used to a bit. Riders with a hard hand or beginners with unsteady hands should also choose a snaffle bit, as the movement is transmitted directly to the tongue and is not cushioned. Olive head bits should generally be chosen 0,5 to 1 cm smaller than a ring bit, so that the side parts fit loosely on the horse's mouth.

Olive head bits are also available as single and double broken versions and as a rod.

Bar bit on white background

Only for independent hands

bar bite

Bar bits are available in many different materials and in different shapes. They should only be used by experienced riders, as one-sided rein aids or working on position and bend are not possible with a bar bit.

All bar bits

Stick bits apply even pressure to the entire tongue In contrast to single or double jointed bits, less pressure is placed on the edges of the tongue. You should always choose the bit that fits your horse exactly, because if the bit is too big, it can become jammed if the reins are pressed on one side.

Bar bits are often used for very strong horses that, for example, evade the rider's aids when approaching an obstacle. A bar bit with tongue freedom can also be beneficial for horses with tongue problems (sensitivity to pressure - tongue is pulled up or stuck out to the side).

Flexible bar bits are particularly suitable for horses that occasionally fasten and are often well accepted by horses that do not cope well with broken bits. A good alternative to the classic bar bit is the Max Control bit from Sprenger, which only acts like a normal broken dentition and becomes a rod under strong pressure.

But it is always important to sensitive handling of the bar bitThe rider should be able to ride the horse independently of the reins using weight and leg aids.

Rarely seen in the English cavalry

Baucher bit / Fillistrense / B-ring bit

  • sits much more quietly in the horse's mouth due to its firm fastening to the bridle
  • acts towards the corner of the mouth, which leads to more straightening in many horses
  • has a sideways effect due to the solid side parts
  • do not hang down in contrast to simple bridles
  • can only be pushed minimally towards the stallion and incisor teeth
  • suitable for horses with a short mouth gap

Contrary to popular belief this bit has NO leverageWhen the reins are pulled, the strap to which the bit is attached is positioned outwards, similar to a snaffle bit. In order to exert pressure on the neck, the bit needs a counterpole, i.e. a chin chain.

Also called gag bit

Full-length snaffle

  • have side bars that have a directional effect
  • lies more quietly in the horse's mouth
  • often used for training young horses, for lunging or by show jumpers
  • Correct size is crucial to prevent jaw corners from being pinched

Only for experienced riders

Winding bridle

  • achieves maximum control through effective and targeted action on the corners of the mouth and neck
  • has an uplifting effect
  • can only be used with special cheek pieces

Also called racing bit

D-ring bit

  • do not differ in their mode of action from olive head bits
  • The difference lies in the slightly more angular shape of the side panels
  • Shekels are usually firmly attached to the side panels

Only for experienced riders

3-ring bit, multi-ring bit or pessoa

  • acts on corners of the mouth and neck
  • sharp teeth, which works very quickly
  • If you buckle the reins into the large, middle ring, the bit acts like a snaffle
  • If you buckle the reins into the lower small ring, it becomes a sharp bit, as the leverage and thus pressure on the neck is added
  • Pessoa bit is used with two pairs of reins, similar to a curb bit

Brand for plastic dentures

Nathe bit

  • are made of thermoplastic
  • are suitable for sensitive and mouth-sensitive horses
  • make hypoallergenic and thus have a very high tolerability
  • are food safe and free from plasticizers and solvents
  • only medium to short lifespan due to soft material
  • You should replace dentures with bite marks immediately

Curb bit from Sprenger exempt

For delicate hands

Double bridles & bridles

Curb bits are mostly only used in advanced dressage and are used to refine the aids in advanced lessons. Both rider and horse should be trained accordingly. The rider should have a seat that is independent of the reins and a fine, gentle hand. This is referred to as "curb maturity".

Curb bits work due to the leverage of the suits significantly sharper in the horse's mouth than, for example, a single-jointed snaffle bit. In dressage, the curb bit is always accompanied by a snaffle bit.

A distinction is made between French curbs / dressage curbs and post curbs / Liverpool curbs, also called driving curbs.

The post curb is used without a snaffle bit and has up to three rings one below the other. The deeper you fasten the driving line, the sharper this double bit appears.

Dressage curb - short or long suit?

  • available with short suits (5 cm) and long suits (7 cm)
  • short suits work much faster
  • With the long suit there is a little more leeway, the pressure can be dosed in finer gradations

Remember: the angle of attack created by a certain shortening of the reins is smaller the longer the pull is. This means that if you take the reins the same way, the “baby” curb acts much faster and therefore also more sharply. Basically, you now have to consider whether your hand is fine enough to work in millimeters and whether your horse needs more direct, clear aids, or a little more time to think.

Does tongue freedom make sense?

The freedom of the tongue is somewhat controversial nowadays. According to the latest findings, the tongue is more likely to be trapped by the freedom of the tongue and the horse does not have the opportunity to push the bit upwards with its tongue. This means that it cannot counteract too much pressure. the greater the tongue freedom, the sharper the bit appearsIf the bar is only slightly bent, this will act evenly on the entire tongue if the pressure is applied on the same side. However, if too much pressure is applied on one side, there is a risk of the bar becoming jammed.

Which bit material is suitable for horses?

Slightly sweet

Sensogan denture

  • from Sprenger developed material
  • consists of a special composition of copper, manganese and zinc
  • tastes slightly sweet, which should encourage the horse to chew
  • Material is toxicologically tested and classified as harmless

Affordable classic

Stainless steel bit

  • do not rust, are very durable and absolutely tasteless
  • Weight depends on whether it is solid or hollow
  • If used heavily, sharp edges can form over time, which can injure the mucous membrane in the mouth

Plastic, rubber or leather

Soft teeth

  • especially for sensitive or allergic horses the solution
  • Soft dentures require more care and show signs of wear more quickly
  • are not suitable for horses that chew heavily
  • Material must be checked for sharp edges before riding

Sweet teeth with slight susceptibility to wear

Copper bit

  • is intended to stimulate salivation and mouth activity
  • made of a stainless steel core with copper alloy
  • Surface scratches easily due to the soft surface material and can form sharp edges

Blue teeth from Trust

Sweet Iron Bit

  • Colour changes to brown-grey when the bit is used
  • Surface forms a light layer of rust through contact with moisture
  • tastes sweet and stimulates your horse to salivate and chew more

video from Sprenger to denture materials

The most frequently asked questions

Bits FAQ

Which bit does my horse need?

We are often asked this question. The answer depends on the circumstances and cannot be generalized. As a rule, all horses run well with a snaffle bit - whether it is single or double-jointed.

For horses that need a little more lateral support or for lunging, a full cheek snaffle or olive head snaffle is a good option.

Which bit for horses with leaning problems?

Does your horse curl up or does it stand out? You should answer this question first because it leads to different answers. Horses that do not approach the bit properly usually have no problem with the bit itself. The engine (hindquarters) is simply off. First try to get your horse's hindquarters more diligent before looking for the problem with the bit.

If your horse's hindquarters are active (but fast does not necessarily mean hardworking) and you still have problems, there are the following bits available:

Sprenger offers the WH Ultra bit. The rolling element promotes mouth activity, suppleness and concentration. It relaxes the jaw and topline, allowing the horse to chew faster.

The Sprenger Turnado bit is suitable for horses with tongue problems.

It is very special Sprenger Novocontact bit. The single-jointed version is suitable for horses that do not want to approach the bit. Whereas the double-jointed version is designed for horses that occasionally push hard and go against the hand.

Which bit for a young horse?

Single or double broken snaffles are suitable for young horses. Because then all horses usually run well. A restless hand is balanced out by the movable rings and the horse can briefly escape too much pressure by lifting the tongue.

What size bit does my horse need?

If you have a bit with movable sides (e.g. a snaffle bit), the bit should not be too tight, as the rings must remain freely movable. Bits with fixed sides (e.g. an eggbutt bit) can be chosen half to a whole size smaller.

Guide to measuring teeth

What bit strength does my horse need?

As a first rough assessment, you can use the "2-finger test". To do this, put your index and middle fingers in the place in the horse's mouth where the bit is inserted. If you feel pressure on both fingers, the recommended thickness is 14 - 16 mm. If, on the other hand, you hardly feel any pressure, you can also use a bit with a thickness of 16 - 18 mm.

Guide to measuring teeth