Wellington, Florida —According to Beth Haist, CEO of The Horse of Course, there are a few key things you need to know about bits: they need to be the correct weight and size, and they need to be made of copper. And one more thing – you’ve probably been fitting them wrong all along.
Haist knows this because she’s been lucky enough to have exposure to several bit engineers who have passed on their knowledge about the right way to select a proper bit for a horse. Not to mention, as an entrepreneur, CEO, and founder of her full-service tack shop The Horse of Course, Inc., she’s been partnering with bit developers to fit horses since 1995. “You really have to think like an engineer when finding the right bit. This is an engineering feat,” The Horse of Course CEO explained.
If you’re interested in learning just how to think like an engineer and finding that perfect connection with your horse, you may be interested in Haist’s latest discussion on bits in her radio interview with Biostar’s Tigger Montague and Pati Pierucci of Pierucci Dressage. In the Healthy Critters radio episode, Haist gives listeners several tips on proper bit fitting. She discusses everything from the most common factors to the minute details that some equestrians overlook.
For example, she explains that most riders are using bits that are too large for their horses’ mouths. “I never find that Warmbloods or the Spanish-bred horses need more than a five-inch. About 95 percent of horses are going to be a four and three-quarter inch curb,” Haist said. For horses not ready for double bridles, she suggests a three-piece snaffle, like a French Link. But like with the curb, Haist encourages riders to ensure that the bit isn’t too large. “You have to be careful not to get them too big, because if you do that the three-piece rubs back and forth across the bars of the horse’s mouth.”
Equally important to the bit’s size is the bit’s weight. But in this case, Haist thinks riders tend to underestimate how heavy their bit should be. “There’s two positions in a horse’s mouth,” she explained. “There’s an on position and an off position. So when you pick up the reins, you’re pulling the bit up into your horse’s mouth, which is what we talk about when we say the ‘on position.’” Haist continued, “The bit has to have weight. If it doesn’t, it can’t automatically move into the off position when you start to loosen the reins at the end of the ride to stretch the topline.”
Yet another key piece of advise Haist offers in her interview is the importance of what the bit is made of. In her eyes, copper is the only option. “You need to have a bit that’s heavy and copper – and it has to be at least 70 percent,” she said. “The reason for that is it literally warms to the temperature of a horse’s mouth and, when it does that, it becomes more neutral.”
To find the perfect combination of size, weight and material, she suggests two brands: Neue Schule and Herm Sprenger. Both brands can be found at The Horse of Course and at The Horse of Course’s popular mobile tack shop, which is currently located at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in Wellington, Florida, for the winter show season.
To listen to the full radio episode featuring Beth Haist (and to become a more informed horsemen along the way), click here
To dive right into finding the best bit for your horse, visit The Horse of Course online at www.thehorseofcourse.com or look for The Horse of Course’s mobile unit at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, where it will be stationed through the twelve-week show series.