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Bit guide

Aussie Saddlery Online Bit Guide


Some simple bit solutions that you can try:

An Introduction to Snaffles and Curbs Bits

Choosing the right bit for your horse can be a little confusing, especially when you consider all the varieties of bits available. To help you understand the difference between D-rings and eggbutts, Waterfords and Weymouths, we’ve prepared an simple bit guide that provides information about the most common styles of bits as well as some of the more unusual ones.


Snaffle Bit


Curb bit


 Double Bridle bit


Within the vast world of bits there are two categories that the majority of bits fall into: snaffles and curbs, and both can be used for English or western riding. A snaffle is recognizable by the rings attached to either side of the mouthpiece. The reins attach to the rings and guide the horse through direct contact. For example, when you pull on the right rein the horse turns right in response to pressure on the corners of its mouth. This teaches the horse to bend laterally. When working on downward transitions and halts, snaffles exert pressure on the bars of the horse’s mouth, causing the horse to flex at the poll and bend vertically.

In contrast, curb bits work on leverage. Reins are attached to shanks, the vertical bars attached to the bit rings. When you pull back on the reins, the shanks create a lever action and pressure is exerted on the horse’s lower jaw, the bars of the mouth and the poll via the crownpiece of the bridle. In general, a longer shank translates into more leverage and hence a more severe bit. Pressure is also felt on the horse’s chin, thanks to the curb strap or curb chain. Curb bits encourage the horse to lower their head and flex at the poll. Though curb bits can be ridden with two hands, in western riding the curb permits the rider to guide their horse through neck reining.

Snaffles and curbs are available in a wide range of mouthpieces, and each style—from smooth to twisted and low or high ports—provides a certain degree of severity. That’s why it’s important to choose a bit wisely, because once a horse’s mouth has become dull or sore due to a strong bit in rough hands, it’s difficult to re-school the horse to become light and responsive once again.





Eggbut Snaffle Bits – These are the simplest and most common type of bit available, and a great place to start for all horses. It is generally s good approach to start with simple bits like this and move to something more complex if you need to.

The basic structure of the snaffle bit will cause relatively little or no pain in the horse’s mouth, making it a good mix for those concerned about resistance. Snaffle bits can vary in size and shape, and you can find an excellent selection on our web site under bits



Double Bridle Bits – For experienced riders who know exactly the amount of control needed to instruct a horse, a double bridle is usually the best choice of bit.

With two bits and two types of rein, riders can exert a more delicate form of control over the horse, something that can make a huge difference when competing in competitions or horse shows.

New riders should be very carefull using these types of bridle bits, as overuse could harm the horse’s mouth and disrupt his temperament.

Hackamore Bits – This type of bit is often known as a ‘bitless bridle’. If the horse is unhappy accepting a bridle or snaffle bit, the hackamore is a sensible compromise, as it does not involve any contact with the horse’s mouth.

Some riders prefer a hackamore bit as they believe it’s a kinder alternative to standard bridles as it exerts pressure on the nose, a less sensitive area than the mouth. 

 racing-bit.jpg Racing Bits – This type of bit is self-explanatory; most often used by jockeys in horse riding to control horses moving at incredible speed. These types of bit have adapted rings that help give a jockey extra influence to make the split-second decisions that can often dictate the final result of a race.


Choosing the right bit width

The simplest way to select the right bit for your horse is to measure the width of the horses mouth (from lip to lip on your horse), and adding ¼” to get the proper measurement for your bit.”

A bit should fit comfortably across the mouth with a small space on either side.

In most cases, the simple rule for bit fitting is,

Small Pony= 4" (Shetland/Small Pony)

Large Pony= 4.5" (Pony)

Galloway (14-15hh)= 5" (Cob)

Hack (15hh and over)= 5.5" (Full)

Of course there are always exceptions to the rule as some breeds may have a fine mouth e.g- Riding Pony

Or larger mouth e.g- Warmblood


Want to know how to correctly measure your bit? Watch our youtube how to guide here