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  • Whether you might be shopping for your horse a bit for the primary time, or attempting a brand new bit in your horse, it’s important to know each how you can measure your horse’s mouth and the bit itself. A horse shall be uncomfortable whether or not a bit is just too tight or too massive, which might destroy the belief between horse and rider. If the bit is just too slender, it should squeeze the horse’s lips and cheeks, inflicting discomfort and trauma. However, whether it is too broad it may well transfer adversely back and forth, which might trigger bruising and trauma contained in the mouth as it’s not sitting because it was designed to be.

    Lorinery knowledgeable and BETA discipline officer Tricia Nassau-Williams says that “fitting bits too big is perhaps the most common fault I see”.

    “People think if the bit is too big it will be kinder as there is more room, but nothing could be further from the truth,” she explains. “The bit needs to be a real match for the person horse. It might be irritating after I suggest a bit and the rider borrows one that’s a lot too massive. It’s not nearly discovering the proper design, but in addition the proper measurement.

    “To know if the bit is fitting correctly, it first needs to be at the correct height as this will affect the width in the V-shaped jaw. It should be neatly fitting into the corners of the mouth, parallel to the second two grooves on the roof of the inside of his mouth. Then stand in front and with a bit of rein contact, look to see how much clearance there is. As a very general guide, you want to have an index finger’s clearance.”

    For free rings, the horse’s lips ought to clear the bit ring holes by 1/8 inch on either side, to stop pinching. If you’ll be able to see half an inch or extra, the bit is just too massive for this horse.

    Some producers, akin to Neue Schule, present a service whereby you’ll be able to ship them an image of the bit within the mouth and so they’ll advise on measurement.

    How to measure a horse’s mouth

    There are varied bit-sizer instruments available on the market that will help you decide the proper measurement bit. This is an affordable plastic measuring machine that slides into the horse’s mouth and exhibits you what measurement ought to match – all the time go up a measurement if it falls between two. Some bit gauges even have a nylon strap so you’ll be able to slip it over the horse’s head giving a extra correct measurement in keeping with bit top. Check out if in case you have one in all these in your yard, as they’re fairly onerous to come back by in on-line tack outlets. Various producers provide their very own bit gauges to narrate to their very own bits.

    If you don’t have a bit sizer at hand and your horse will permit it, you need to use a chunk of string and a marker, marking the perimeters of the mouth and measuring the space between every mark. Bits within the UK are normally measured in inches.

    However, Tricia cautions that as bit designs and thicknesses range, that impacts how they match contained in the horse’s mouth, so the measurement could not tally exactly with the proper bit measurement.

    “It’s no good saying, ‘my horse is a 5.5in’, because some bits have more curve and fit differently, so you need to be open-minded to acknowledge what is in front of you,” she says.

    Measuring the mouthpiece

    So you recognize what measurement bit your horse ought to take, now to verify the bit’s measurement. If you purchase it new from a store, this must be easy as it is going to be labelled. However, many people have a field of bits in our tack room prepared for whichever horse wants one thing totally different. It’s unhealthy apply hygiene-wise to share bits across the yard, so ensure you have sterilised it first. You can put them within the dishwasher or soak in a home-made resolution of water, vinegar, and baking soda, scrub and rinse.

    To measure your bit, first discover a ruler (higher than a floppy tape measure) and lay the bit flat on a tough floor on prime of the ruler. The size of the bit is the space from the within of 1 bit ring to the opposite. For a loose-ring bit, measure from the within of the opening for the ring. UK bits are measured in inches, and shall be within the area of the 5in mark. You can’t go by the outdated adage for 4.5in for a pony, 5in for a horse, 5.5in for a draft horse – mouth configurations and dimensions range far an excessive amount of for that.

    You may even need to know the thickness of the mouthpiece, as this could range from round 12mm to as a lot as 23mm.

    “The easiest way to measure the thickness is with a digital caliper gauge,” suggests Tricia. “If not, put the bit on a ruler on a hard surface and measure in millimetres from above to get the diameter. If the bit is tapered, measure the widest bit next to the cheek. Twelve to 14mm is very fine, 16mm is the most common, while 20mm is very generous – more common on a mullen mouth or a rubber mouthpiece.”

    You may additionally have to measure the ring measurement. This is taken throughout the diameter from the within of the ring to inside. A standard loose-ring snaffle can be between 60–70mm; a bradoon round 50–55mm, whereas 45mm may be very small.

    Curb chains are merely measured from one finish to the opposite, and have a tendency to come back in sizes small, medium and enormous.

    Finding the proper measurement shouldn’t be so simple as choosing a bit off a peg. As properly as being diligent about checking the dimensions, you additionally must be adept at switching from imperial to metric to basic sizing. But on your horse’s sake, it’s value taking a little bit of time to get proper.

    You may additionally need to learn…


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    Hilary Veron explains how to choose the right bit by examining the mouth and tongue of the horse.

    Credit: Peter Nixon

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