Horse, pony, draft, or cob – equines come in many different shapes and sizes! How do you know which bit will fit your horse’s mouth?
Many equestrians eyeball the sizing, or go by the old standby (5 inches for horses, 4.5 inches for ponies, and 5.5 inches for draft horse). But the truth is, the size of a horse’s mouth varies greatly depending on their breed, conformation, and build. In order to ensure that your horse is comfortable in their mouth while being ridden, we have put together tips to help you properly fit your horse’s bit.
Facts of the Matter
Whether you ride English or Western, a properly sized bit allows you clearly communicate with your horse. A bit that is too small will pinch the sides of your horse’s mouth, and in extreme cases it may actually prohibit your horse from closing his mouth. When a bit is too large, it doesn’t sit properly in your horse’s mouth and will slide back in forth when you use your rein aids. Furthermore, a bit that is too big will be difficult to adjust, and it may even knock into your horse’s teeth, causing discomfort while being ridden.
For Good Measure
Fortunately, measuring your horse’s mouth is surprisingly simple. All you need is a heavy piece of string and a ruler to determine the best size bit for your horse. Stretch the string through your horse’s mouth to where the bit normally sits, and mark the string on each side. Measure the length of string, and there you have it! This is the size of your horse’s mouth.
Sometimes though, it can be difficult to hold the string both steadily and tight enough to get an accurate measurement. Consider picking up a handy tool that helps do the heavy lifting for you. A bit sizer, like the Jacks Bit Sizer, eliminates all of the guesswork involved. Made of durable molded plastic, simply insert it into your horse’s mouth just like you would a bit, and read the displayed measurement. A bit sizer is a crucial tool that every equestrian should keep in their tack trunk or tack room.
Generally speaking, an eggbutt and a dee-ring snaffle should lie comfortably against your horse’s lips when resting on the bars of the mouth.
Some bits however, like a loose-ring snaffle, require additional mouth space. A loose-ring bit requires approximately an additional ⅛ of an inch on either side of the corners of the lips in order to minimize pinching. If your loose-ring snaffle is properly fitted and continues to pinch, your horse may be particularly sensitive. Utilize the pair of bit guards, like Gel Bit Guards or the Rubber Bit Guards, to protect against rubbing and pinching.
What if you already have a bit that fits perfectly but need to move your horse out of a snaffle and into a pelham? Not a problem, we can help with that too. Simply take your tape measure and measure the mouthpiece, but use a ruler to connect the inside of the two cheekpieces. The length in inches is the size bit you need to buy. By relying on a bit that you already know fits, you can make sure that your next bit purchase is the right one.
If you need additional assistance in measuring your bit or if your horse lands between sizes, our experienced sales staff would be happy to help you find the best bit for your use. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.