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When does a bit fit?

Although it is not easy to find the 'best' bit for a horse, there are a number of factors that can be used to choose a bit. The width and thickness of a bit has to match the size of the horse's mouth. The space in the horse's mouth and the thickness of the tongue for example, are considered important aspects. Also, the bit should have a good balance of weight. It should neither be too heavy nor too light, and this also differs per horse.

The width of both the horse's mouth and jaw are important. The width of the horse's mouth can be easily measured by means of a measuring tape or by measuring the current bit in use. The width of the jaw can be measured by testing how many fingers can be placed between the bones of the lower jaw. When two fingers fit between the bone, the horse has a broad lower jaw. If only one finger or less fits between the bones, the horse has a narrow jaw. The wider the lower jaw, the more space has a horse in the mouth. With a broad lower jaw the tongue is placed deeper in the jaw which makes it easier for a horse to avoid the pressure of the bit. A narrow jaw offers the horse less opportunity to do so.

An indication of the right width of a bit:

  • A single broken mouthpiece should be about one centimetre wider than the horse’s mouth so that the bit does not pinch the corner of the mouth.
  • A double broken mouthpiece should be about 0,5 centimetre wider than the horse’s mouth.

The common opinion is that a thick bit has a softer affect on the horse’s mouth than a thin bit; however it may also be that the mouth of a horse is too small for a thick bit, and the horse is not able to close his mouth properly. In this case a thinner bit would probably be more comfortable for the horse with have a better effect . In order to estimate the thickness of a bit one should look at the thickness of the tongue and the  space between the upper and lower bars when the horse’ s mouth is closed. Also, the weight of a bit is important because, a thicker bit  is usually heavier, and hollow bit is lighter than a solid bit.