Cisco has been a bit of a challenge to bit. He's a bit fussy in his mouth. It's where he primarily exhibits tension. But I'm pretty sure that's is due to some discomfort. Even when he is reaching forward into contact, and I like the feeling of the connection, he's clacking his teeth together constantly.
Trying different bits can get stupid expensive unless you have some friends that you can borrow from. I don't have said friends. Everyone I ride with has the basic bits that I've already tried. There are one or two places in Canada that offer bit rentals, but shipping back and forth will likely cost $30-$40 plus the cost of the rental. So to try a single bit could be upwards of 25% of the cost of the bit new.
I haven't quite figured out what Cisco wants in a bit. When I started him, he definitely didn't like tongue pressure. I used the Bombers Happy Tongue for about a year because of this. Lately, I've tried a couple of jointed bits, and he's been accepting of the idea. I used a Sprenger Dynamic KK snaffle a couple of times, but decided I liked him in the Happy Tongue better. Then I tried Phantom's Neue Schule baucher. I think I like the connection a little bit better than in the Happy Tongue. However, it hasn't fixed the clacking teeth problem.
So I'm still on the hunt for his bit.
Now, I know that a bit is not a miracle item that will solve all the rider's problems. I'm an amateur rider, and surprise, surprise, I ride like one. My hands are not perfect. They could be more still. But I always try to ride with my hands thinking forward and pushing the bit towards the horse's mouth, not backwards towards me. I try. It doesn't mean I succeed.
But I do think that there is a better bit out there for Cisco.
Last week I picked up one that was on my list to try - the Acavallo Sensitive bit.
It's a flexible mullen mouth. The mouthpiece is quite narrow - I saw some site say that it was about 14mm. But it's kind of oval versus round - the mouthpiece is flatter on the top and bottom.
It doesn't really have any part that is shaped to reduce tongue pressure, but because it is so flexible I was hoping that this would make up for it.
The D-rings on the sides are fixed, with slots for the cheekpieces and reins. There are two options as to where to put your reins - the lower slot would add some poll pressure (I didn't try this one). The middle slot for the reins is fairly generous so that the rein has some room to move before it would activate poll pressure. If you are using your reins in a normal hand position I can't really see it happening. Note that I had to drop my cheekpieces down two holes when I put the bridle on Cisco for this bit - if your bridle is already fitting small, you might end up with a problem fitting it.
The reason I wanted to try this bit was because of the flatter mouthpiece, it was still a mullen mouth, and I was hoping that Cisco would like the flexibility of the bit and be able to hold it more comfortable in his mouth.
He didn't like it.
I only tried it for one ride, so I might give it another chance. But I just didn't like the connection feeling that I had versus the other two bits I've been using. At the beginning of the ride I thought his mouth was quieter than it normally is, but by the end of the ride it was definitely just as active. The only reason I would try it again was because he was a bit up for the ride and took quite a while to settle, so it might not have been the best ride to judge new equipment.
This bit is quite a bit cheaper than the other bits I want to try - I paid $70 CDN for it. Bits are things that every horse has a different opinion about, so I'm not going to say if I recommend it or not. I do think that if you have a fussy horse it's definitely worth trying though.