Bits. So many options. How to choose one?
Prior to Rio, I never had any issues in the bit department. My bit choices were always super straight forward, and I never needed to try anything out of the ordinary. When I got Rio, he already had a tendency to drop BTV and gape his mouth, so I went for what I assumed was a ‘soft’ option and used it for about 8 months before Trainer at the time suggested we try something else. The Mikmar is very HEAVY and thick. We surmised that he might not like all that weight on his tongue.
Since he didn’t seem to love it (was still gaping his mouth/resisting it at times), I agreed to try some other options. We tried a smaller diameter and might lighter french link D ring which he seemed to hate. Then I rode him in a Myler with curved bars and copper inlays for a few months which he seemed to like ok (better then the Mikmar and french link).
I was looking into buying one of my own at this point (it was the best fit for him that we has tried so far, MM had one that she had been letting me borrow). At this point though, Rio was still not loving any sort of contact at all. We could not get him to stretch INTO the hand. Even the softest squeeze on the bit would having him trying to drop down/duck away from the contact. MM and I brainstormed, and thought that maybe he would appreciate sometime with a bit of tongue relief. I couldn’t seem to find anything on the cheaper side that didn’t have a HUGE port, so I ended up buying a Bomber to the tune of $135ish.
This was maybe a mistake, because that’s a lot of money for a bit I didn’t even know if he would like. I was pretty MEH. He didn’t seem to want to go forward in it. It wasn’t awful, but not the miracle I had been hoping for. On a bit of a whim, MM suggested we try her Nathe loose ring on him. I had not tried anything at this point that wasn’t metal.
The difference it made!!! All the sudden Rio wasn’t evading the contact. I could put my leg on, take a light feel, and he would step forward into the contact in a lovely relaxed manner. This was finally the type of break through that had me excited about a different bit option. I purchased a HS Duo D ring at this point (basically the same bit but with a D ring).
Rio has been going in it for a bout a year now. He still likes to gape sometimes, and he chews it when he’s bored/anxious/annoyed, which in turn annoys me, but it is obviously the best of the bits we have tried. Unfortunately, it’s not a metal bit, so all the gnawing has left some marks on it and it’s starting to become a bit disfigured. At $165, this isn’t a cheap bit to be replacing every year. (Anyone know where to buy one for less money? I’ve been searching, but to no avail.)
I saw a FB tack sales post the other night that had a bit very similar to a different Bomber bit that I had wanted to try, but not spend the money on.
The only reason I am even looking at bits again is the high price of replacing my HS Duo. I figured it wouldn’t hurt (other then wasting my money) to try to investigate a cheaper alternative. Obviously if I tried it, and Rio hated it, I would suck it up and go back to the Duo.
So I bought the FB bit ($33). It will be here on Monday. My thinking- it’s a mullen mouth like the Duo, and it has a very slight port (which I still think he may like). He’s also much more “broke” now then we started with the Duo, and does occasionally decide to run through my hand. He very rarely tries to drop BTV now, and he is much much more comfortable with a good bit of contact. I feel that he *may* be ready for a metal bit. I could be totally wrong buttttt… for $33 I figured it was worth a try. If it doesn’t work for him, I’ll just re-sell it, or add it to my bit collection.
What do y’all think? Anyone used a bit like this? Who wants to buy it if it doesn’t work for Rio?! LOL. How many bits did you try until you found the ONE?
You can get the Sprenger Duo a little cheaper by ordering overseas. I personally have had great luck with horsebitbank.com. They will remove the roughly 20% VAT if you shoot them an email and their shipping is pretty cheap. Also, I’m not sure on the rules for hunters, but are you allowed to wrap the bits? If you have a metal one who’s shape he likes, maybe put a layer or two of Sealtex on it? I tried this with a bit that I liked overall but had too thin of a mouth piece and it worked really well.
Thank you! Those are both excellent suggestions. I will look into horsebitbank.com. Where do you buy Sealtex from?
I got mine from Amazon prime 😉 But if you want to try some, email me and I’d be happy to send you what I have. I won’t be needing it again anytime soon.
He might like a leather bit! I know they are pricy, but I think they might last a little longer.
Definitely going to look into these too!
Never saw the bomber bit before. I tend to cycle through a variety of bits with each of my horses and they work for their time and place and we move on to something else. Like it took years for Carlos to be able to go in a regular snaffle. My old Trainer had a huge variety of bits since she’d been in the horse business her whole life and it made the whole trial thing a lot easier before actually buying some bits of my own (usually used).
I had that FB bit…my horse HATED it, just like she hated the level 2 Myler. I should have known she wouldn’t like that Myler after trying that other ported bit…that was an expensive mistake lol.
I’ve been on the hunt for the “perfect” bit for a while. I don’t think it ACTUALLY exists.
Dang! Well, if Rio hates it at least I didn’t spend a small fortune on it! What is your perfect bit??
Have you tried a mullen mouth happy mouth? That’s cheaper than replacing the HS Due, and might be a similar feel for him. Or even just a rubber mullen mouth perhaps?
I got my Rio a leather bit from Sweet Billy’s Bits on Etsy that he really loves. But he’s not all that particular. Your horse may like it though. It’s straight across, and completely molds to their mouth.
I have not tried either. This is my reasoning- the happy mouth plastic is pretty hard (compared to the Duo) and I can’t seem to find a smooth one. They are $50, so with the 2 differences I am just not sure it’s gave the same effect. I think a rubber mullen would be a closer fit, but the one’s I’ve seen are much too thick. Even though Rio is big he only wears a horse size bridle and has a normal to smallish mouth, I fear the rubber mullens would just be too big for comfort. I coudl totally be wrong about both though! A leather bit is certainly an interesting idea- something for me to look into! Thanks!
If you think he’d like the feel of the rubber Mullen but it’s too fat/stiff, try wrapping a Myler in the Sealtex. There’s an upper level eventer who did a video documentary on her tack and this is what she does for a number of her horses, including her 4* one. And now I’ll never mention the stuff again. I swear I don’t sell it or anything! 😅
Sterling LOVES the rubber mullen and he has a smaller mouth/head than Rio. They are so inexpensive and there are a lot of options with regards to how bendable the bit is, I think it’s worth a try!
Good to know!! Thank you!!
Hahaha not at all, thanks for the recommendation! I purchased some and wrapped the solid metal mullen I got with it, trying it out tonight to see what Rio thinks!
I swear I put my mare in every bridle/bit that we had in the barn during my hunt a few years ago! Fingers crossed he’ll go for the new bit 🙂
I started Niko in a HS Duo, but that ended up not being quite enough but once we got a little further I our training. Now he’s going in a blue alloy copper disc bit (Bomber makes them, but the Centaur brand is cheaper).
Interesting! My metal mullen with some tongue relief arrived yesterday. I wrapped in some sealtex to soften it. We will see what Rio thinks tonight!
I second the sealtex recommendation. I know someone who showed in the AOs in Zone 2 and never had an issue with it. I would try the Myler wrapped in sealtex, as that will give it a good amount of flex without being hard or too heavy in his mouth.
Maestro has me changing bits all the time lately I swear!
When he came they had been riding him in a 3 ring and flash which I still don’t get. So put him in a Waterford but he was a bit strong over fences for it last fall. Ended up in a level 2 myler (so like you pictured but with a port) which we still really like but became too much indoors then recently not enough jumping outdoors, lol. I rode him in my HS Duo for a while over the winter but ultimately settled on a stubben Waterford which has a different action than a traditional Waterford. Loved that until this spring when the wheels fell off the bus going back to jumping outside and having saddle issues and we’ve been playing around with bits since then. Currently in a respect the brakes when we jump towards home bit, lol. I’m sure it’s short term for us.
Have you tried the level 2 myler to see if he would like that port and rotation of the myler together? Maestro did not like the straight version. I can get you the link to what I have (borrowed, lol) if you are interested. I see some people suggested the happy mouth mullen and I do have one of those if you want to try it. Definitely harder than the duo but a little flexible still.
Oh and leather bit is an interesting idea. Beka (Owls Approve) had found a pretty reasonably priced source if I remember correctly. Should be able to find it on her blog.
So much helpful info!
I have not tried the level 2 Myler- if my current set up doesn’t work out I may have to ask around to see if anyone has one I can borrow. I may also be interested in trying to happy mouth too. Thanks for the tip on the leather bits, I will definitely have to check out her blog and see where she found a better price.
Elisa Wallace on YouTube is the girl I learned about sealtex from…my mouthy greenie finally stopped chewing with that on a sniffle but eventually it didn’t have much stopping power. We’re in a double jointed happy mouth right now but not sure what to do when the plastic gets gnawed up..