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Horse bridles and bits are available in a variety of sizes, metals, materials and shapes to offer various amounts of pressure and security. Discover the different types of horse bridles and bits with advice from a riding instructor in this video on equestrian living.
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We're going to look at bridles and bits. I like to start out introducing what I consider one of my favorite bits. This is a training snaffle. We call it a training snaffle because it's a less assertive. Offers the horse the least amount of pressure as we teach him in their young and formative years. We also use them ongoing to continue to maintain that softness of their mouth. I particularly like some of the metals that they use to maintain that softness. As you can see here, this is what we call a sweet iron bit. It's of a rusty type of metal that's actually beneficial, and they've inlaid it with some copper strips. So what my favorite is to maintain the softness of the horses mouth, would be a combination of the sweet iron and the copper. We look at the bridle type, and we see that this is what we would call a one-eared bridle. Typically, that's enough to insure that the horse will keep this on. However, I have a few horses that shake their heads firmly enough that if this were not really the type of bridle that would stay on them, I might need to go to something with a throat-latch strap that we'll see here in a little bit. My next bit that I go to in the way of going up the scale of how much pressure we would apply to the horse, is one of the first bits that will then incorporate the need of a curb chain or curb strap to make certain we're utilizing the development and the mechanism of this kind of bit. Any bit that has a shank, this piece here, that extends down from the mouthpiece, even if it's just a simple little piece, needs or requires the use of a curb chain or a curb strap for the leverage. Our snaffle bits, like the previous one, didn't need the curb chain or curb strap for leverage. It's used, simply, so that the bridle itself doesn't spin in the horse's mouth. But these need the maintenance of a leverage piece called a curb strap or a curb chain. That also has the copper mouth, that ensures the softness of the horse, and has a bigger, rounder mouthpiece that maintains a little less assertiveness than the one that I'm going to show you now. Now we have the basic, same style of a bit. The difference is this one has a sweet iron, smaller in diameter mouthpiece. Still a snaffle, it has the hinge here in the center. But it's going to be a little bit more assertive than the Tom Thumb snaffle that we just looked at, that was fatter in the mouthpiece, thicker in diameter, had all copper, and would be considered a little bit softer. So this one does take us up a little more to applying more pressure, and again, would require the curb chain or the curb strap. As we go into different designs of a similar concept, we can see some pretty unique things, such as this one. This one still incorporates all the metals I talked about. It is still a snaffle. It has this ring in the center, sometimes that was called a Doctor Bristol. It would require a curb strap to go between these two rings, and it does have leverage because it has, even though it's a curb and a smaller amount, it does have that. It has a throat-latch strap and a brow band, so the design of the bridle itself is even a little different than some of the more simple ones we were looking at. We can go into a lot of bits. It's not unusual for trainers to have many bits. I love my bits, I use 'em for different things. I sometimes say bits are like your shoes. You're not going to wear the same pair for the same job. So we get into these, which are called elevators. When we pull back, the bit, itself, the mouthpiece goes up in, further up, creating more pressure as you pull back further. Some people call them gags. There are different names for them. You can see the bit itself, the mouthpiece, has a chain in the center. All of these things are designed to do something else when we think about how a bit influences the horses mouth. The roof of the mouth is an important piece where that pressure is applied. When we get into your show bits, you're somewhat...these are the kind that we...ready to go to the show. We're going to use something that's quite assertive. We use very little hand pressure with it, because this bit's going to apply a lot of pressure based on it's curb style with a port in the center. Interesting, this one of my favorites has the copper roller, so if the horse is fussy he can play with it. Not a bad thing. And then we have the curb strap, because it does have. This is one that we might use in reigning or cutting as we get to that competitive level. Then we get bits that have a variety and a combination of technique. We could look at this as a combination between a bitless, where we have the rawhide nose band, and then a dog-bone center, twisted wire kind of a snaffle, with the same technique as the gag or the elevator. Talk about a lot of stuff! That puts together just about everything we ever thought about. This is a combination where we have the one ear, and the throat-latch strap, so you can see this kind of takes into account many of the things that we've talked about with previous bridles. As we start to choose our bits, just remember, not one fits all for every job that we want to do. And it's not unusual to collect a lot of different kinds of bits to start to create that performance that gets more discerning than just having your horse walking down the trail.