Monday, March 30, 2009

Bits: Materials Used

Common Materials Used in Bits



common mouthpiece materials).

  • Stainless steel: The most popular material for bits. Strong, easy to clean, and doesn't rust. It is considered to be a "cold" metal as it does not encourage salivation.

  • Copper: Warms up quickly. Encourages horse to salivate and to accept the bit. They wear out quickly and need to be replaced.

  • Copper alloy: by combining copper with a harder metal, the bit lasts longer.

  • Sweet iron: easily rusts, which encourages salivation and acceptance of the bit. This metal is used in many western disciplines, and is not as popular in the English.

  • Brass alloy: combination of brass, silicon, and aluminum. Similar to copper only cheaper.

  • Rubber: Softens the action of the bit. Very gentle, but are easily chewed and destroyed. Has to be replaced often. Doesn't taste good.

  • Aluminum: Considered a very bad choice for a mouthpiece as it tends to dry out the mouth and may be toxic. Good for shanks on curb bits.

  • Synthetics: Any number of tough plastics are used for bit designs, combining the softness of rubber with more durability. The best are not easily destroyed by chewing. (All courtesy of
My Thoughts & Experience on Bit Materials
Stainless Steel is used more for shanks and mouthpieces that you want to stay looking shinny. They stay clean and will not rust. A lot of my show bits have stainless steel shanks.

There are some cheaper bits that use stainless steel for mouthpieces. I stay away from those as they tend to be poorly made. It's also bland tasting to the horse. Most of my training bits have stainless steel shanks.

Most bits that I use are sweet iron with copper inlays in the mouthpiece to encourage salivation. (See photo above). These bits rust. I like to see a bit rusty. Horses like the taste of rust. It is sweet to them. Unlike people, who have to stay away from rust. You will see quite a few of my bits rusty, including the cheek pieces. I like that antique look.

The other type of mouthpiece that I use is all copper. I have a D-ring snaffle with a copper mouthpiece that I use to get colts familiar with wearing a bit. All that copper helps them to like the taste of the bit. It encourages the horse to 'mouth it' or play with it.
My correctional bits also have copper rollers in the mouthpiece to encourage salivation.

I'm not familiar with using brass alloy, rubber, aluminum or synthetics in mouthpieces. I believe it is more commonly used by English riders. I do have bits that have aluminum shanks.

I tried to use a rubber mouthpiece bit a long time ago but I found the colts I start have small mouths and it's too much mouthpiece for them and they have trouble keeping all that material in their mouth. It's like they gag on it.

Next article, I'll talk about the fun stuff..... the different types of mouthpieces. This is where the bits get interesting.... I wonder how many different types of mouthpieces there are?

I just read one on the internet that has 'balls and ears'!! Never saw that before! They are inventing new ones all the time.

I really need to talk about the main point about bits and that's how the bit effects a horse's mouth. Greg Darnall's pamphlet that I mentioned in the first article really describes it well. I'll review it in the next article and then go on to mouthpieces.

Until next time, I encourage everyone who's interested in bits to pick up that pamphlet. I got mine at Pleasant Ridge Saddlery in Brantford many years ago.

Questions and comments are welcome. Please join in!
If you need any help with bits, please contact me.
©Copyright KISS Reiners

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