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Bits are made of different materials. These materials have certain characteristics which may affect the action of the bit. Here is an explanation for some common materials.

Aluminium is a light-weight material that has a drying effect on the horse’s mouth.

Copper makes horses accept the bit easily. The oxidation process between the saliva and copper results in a sweet taste, which is pleasant for the horse and stimulates salivation. Copper is often used in combination with other materials as copper itself is too soft. Various copper alloys are:

  • Aurigan is a composition of 85% nickel-free copper. In addition to copper also zinc and silica are added. Silica increases the hardness of the bit
  • Brass is a composition of copper and zinc. Often small parts of the bit are made of brass to encourage the horse to accept the bit.
  • Cyprium is a composition with a high copper content (5 % higher than Aurigan). This encourages extra production of saliva.

Leather is a soft material that encourages the acceptance of the bit. It is important that the leather stays soft and supple. When this material is not cleaned properly it will harden and create sharp edges.

Nylon is a strong material, but very light in weight. Nylon has a gentle effect on the horse’s mouth.

Plastic is a lightweight material, but can wear quickly compared to other materials. Some plastic bits are (apple) flavoured, and most horses find this a pleasant taste.

Rubber is often used for bits. Rubber has a soft effect, but horses that do not produce enough saliva might experience a burning sensation caused by friction. Rubber bits can be flexible, but also hard when there is a steel core inside.

Stainless steel is a material that will last a long time because it does not rust. This material is tasteless, thus it does not provide extra incentive for a horse to accept the bit.

Sweet iron bits will rust after use. This creates sweet flavour that stimulates saliva production and increases acceptance of the bit. Through the process of rusting the bits change to brown/grey colour. When a sweet iron bit is temporarily not in use an orange/-brown surface may form on the mouthpiece. This can be easily removed with a damp cloth.

Vulcanite is a hard variant of rubber with a smooth surface. Vulcanite is slightly  heavier and not flexible.