When you go online to research ‘Bits’ you can quickly end up down a very deep and confusing hole. So what is a good basic bit for your horse? The options seem endless: Bits, bitless, snaffles, waterfords, D-rings, bauchers, nathe, Aurigan, etc. Let’s see if I can help.
I have been working with top riders and trainers for many years and have grown to realize that there isn’t just one basic bit. Everyone seems to love something different. As an eventer, I am required to ride with a bit. While someone that rides Western could prefer a hackamore. So you see, bit or not to bit AND what bit is the question.
So where should you start? First – if you don’t know the horse very well and haven’t been given a suggestion by the owner/rider, a soft loose-ring snaffle is a great place to start.
My first go-to bit is Herm Springer Dynamic D-ring bit with a double jointed mouth piece and a roller in the center. Now, why this bit and not a simple loose-ring snaffle? Personally, I find every horse loves the Aurigan and Sensogan bits (metals that promote delicate and sensitive connection to the horse). The D-ring is sort of like steering insurance. Now your horse may need something softer like a rubber bit, but I find that the Herm Springer is soft enough that I have never had a horse with an adverse reaction to it. If I don’t know the horse, I like knowing I can have a bit of pressure at the sides of the mouth to turn them if they’re getting a bit strong. For me, the Herm Springer Dynamic D-ring is the bit to do this.
The question is where do you go from a “Go-to” bit? A lot of the time you don’t need to go anywhere. I am a firm believer that at lower levels most of troubles can be solved through good training. As horses go up the levels and inevitably get a bit hotter and more excited about their job, you may need to bump up to something else – which is ever more increasingly complex in its options and varieties.
Personally, I really love a soft mouth piece. For my stronger horses I will put on a stronger type of bit, a gag or a pessoa, but I still want something that is kind on their mouth. This is because I may need some leverage if they curl, or lean, or just get pulling.
If you’re interested, I would be happy to do deep dive on bit types and what they do. Spoiler alert: they don’t do what people think they do a lot of the time. Regardless, I want to know what your “Go-to” is, and why? The best way to gain knowledge is by learning what other people do and why. Even if it’s something that most people don’t normally use. Share your thoughts in the comments below!