Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Bit Fitting Webinar

 A couple of days ago, my national equestrian federation, Equestrian Canada, hosted a free webinar called Bit Fitting the Dressage Horse. It was presented by a Lantra certified Bit Fitter.

This is a topic that I've long been interested in so I quickly signed up for it. The fact that it was free and I could count it towards the development requirement of my instructor's certification certainly helped with the decision!

It wasn't quite what I was hoping for, in that she wouldn't give any suggestions for bits for specific scenarios. She said it was because she would need to see the specifics of the horse's mouth anatomy and how they went in their current bit before she could make any suggestions. 

Thus, the information was some basic info. However, there were a few takeaways.

  • The horse only needs to salivate enough to lubricate the bit
  • There is no scientific proof that different metals (ie. sweet iron) increase salivation. It is a marketing claim.
  •  Copper alloys (Sensogan, Aurigan, Salox Gold) were developed specifically for bitting. They are a medium-density metal, which has some softness to it (if chewed on the horse will make marks on it which can be buffed out, unlike stainless steel, which is a hard metal).
  • Leather bits need to be pre-soaked before every ride and oiled often.
  • Inspect your bit regularly!
  • The tongue fills the entire oral cavity of the horse. A bit is accommodated only through compression of the tongue.
  • In an ideal situation, the tongue sits on the floor of the oral cavity and splays out over the bars, which keeps the bit from sitting on the sensitive bars.
  • On a Class 1 bit (any bit where the reins attach to the same ring as the mouthpiece) the mouthpiece rotates backward in the oral cavity upon rein contact.
  • The bit is properly tensioned (the right height in the horse's mouth) when the borehole (the hole that the ring goes through) is 90 degrees to the cheekpiece with no rein contact. Bits have been designed to rotate to the proper position in the horse's mouth with rein contact at this resting tension. (Note that in trying to find images for this, I had a really hard time finding many that followed this rule, and most didn't look like they could follow the rule.)
Enjoy my poor drawing skills from my note taking.

  • On a Class 2 bit (any bit where reins are attached to a ring lower than the mouthpiece) the bit rotates forward in the mouth upon rein contact.
  • The curb chain should be adjusted so that the shank will rotate no more than 45 degrees to the lip line so as to prevent excess poll pressure.
  • Loose ring snaffles should be .25" wider than the horse's mouth measurement. Fixed ring snaffles should be the same width as this measurement.
  • The most common problems she sees are bit tension and bit size.

The most interesting thing that I didn't know was about the bit tension. Princess Phantom likes the bit lower in her mouth than I think is right (but hey, it's not in my mouth!) and I've been wondering where Cisco's new baucher should be sitting. So that night after the webinar I went out to the barn and tacked Phantom up for our ride and looked closely at her bit. It's a baucher - it looks like the rule won't apply to that bit! The boreholes are at the same angle as the cheekpiece because of the shank that comes out of the top of the bit. D'oh! I'm going to send an email to the bit fitter and see if I'm right, and if there is another way to check the tension with this type of bit.

It was good information and worth watching, but it would have been more interesting to learn about specific bits and their action and why they might work in different circumstances. Bitting is not a one size fits all though, so I understand why she didn't want to get into that type of information. Sadly, I don't know of anyone who comes through this area to do a bit fitting clinic. I would love to try a few different ones out without having to buy them!

Equestrian Canada has already made the webinar free to view on their Youtube page. It's worth checking out!

1 comment:

  1. I signed up for it but couldn't watch it. It's on my list to watch at a later time!