New Member
Dec 17, 1999
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i'm really curious about every part of the whole horse ack riding thing. i like to know what everything is for and i was curious about bits. what are the different kinds and what are they all used for? i know this is a question that would take forever to answer but i'd just like to know what they are for. i'm interested, which is the whole point of horse back riding lessons! please help me understand this huge topic :) thanks :)


Dressage Rider
Jan 29, 1999
Hey! Well, there are tonnes of bits, but there are variations of some of them. Like there are snaffle bits, and you'll get into the "D" rings, loose rings and eggbutts. From there you can have a mullen mouth type of bar, which is just a straight bar, that can have either loose ring, D ring or eggbutt rings. There is broken bars, which simply have a break in the center (They kind of look like they "fold"). There are French Links which have two breaks in them. There are the Full Cheek and half cheek snaffle. The Full Cheek has a long spike-ish type thing on the top and bottom of the ring. The Half cheek has only the bottom part.

There are pelhams which are something complicated to explain. They usually have a rubber straight bar and they have three rings on either side.

The Liverpool is mainly a driving bit, and that is quite complicated as well. There is a round section like an "O" at the top. A long type of thing goes through the center that is shaped like a line "|". The shank has hole sin it, about three.

A Kimberwick is a very popular bit. It looks like a large "D" ring, but it has slots on the sides to get more or less leverage.

Curb bits are used in dressages' double bridles. it has lots of little rings on the sides, and is for flexion in the body. It looks a little like a pelham.
Tom Thumbs are used in western, and are unique in them selves. they have a short shank, and are mostly like a shanked snaffle.

There is an English Elevator, which is a gag bit of sorts. it has a large ring and a twisty type shank.

A Tennessee Walking Horse Bit is for Tennessee Walkers mainly. They have up to 12 inch shanks (yes, I do mean 12), and they have a small part at the top where the bar sits. It can have mullen mouth, broken, double broken, rollers and things like that.

Hope this helps a LITTLE. I know I haven't covered a LOT of them, but other people can sure get some stuff in here too. :) :D


Calypso & Champagne
Sep 26, 1999
Kansas USA
Curb bits are used most often in western disciplines. They have an unbroken mouthpiece. It is a straight bar with what looks like a bump in the middle. They have long shanks on the sides, with a curb strap attached at the same place you attach the headstall. Curb bits work mainly on leverage from the curb strap. As you pull on the reins, the curb straps puts pressure on the horse's chin groove, and they learn that that means to stop or slow down. Typically, western riders use neck reing with the curb bit.

Snaffle bits come in many different forms. The simplest is a loose, o-ring smooth snaffle. The mouthpiece is smooth metal, the rings are circles, and they can rotate. You can get the smooth snaffle with many different kinds of rings, such as d-rings. Another variation of the snaffle is a twisted wire mouthpiece. The part that goes in the horse's mouth is twisted instead of smooth. Snaffle bits work by placing pressure on the horse's lips and tongue. English riders direct rein with the snaffle, but western riders use neck reining.

A double bridle uses both a snaffle and a curb at the same time. This type of bridle has two sets of reins, one for each bit. You use the curb bit to get the horse to tuck his nose and raise his back, and use the snaffle for the regular commands.

Yet another type of bridle is the hackamore, which does not use a bit at all. Mechanical hackamores have a chain or leather strap under the horse's chin, much like a curb strap. When you pull on the reins, the chain tightens unde the horse's chin, and the horse stops. Because of the way a mechanical hackamore works, it is necessary to use neck reining.

If you want to know more about bits, why not check out a book from the library that could show you pictures, or ask your instructor. It's good that you are interested in everything to do with horses, and good luck with your lessons! :)


[This message has been edited by Allie (edited 19 December 1999).]


New Member
Dec 8, 1999
Lincoln, Nebraska
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When I got my first horse this September, I learned two things about bits that I found interesting. First, the thicker the bit, the kinder or softer it is. The previous owner was riding my thoroughbred with a 20 mm KK bit. That's a very thick bit with a small jointed piece in the middle of it. And I also learned that the metals or combined alloys that are used to make bits can help to produce saliva in the horse's mouth which helps him accept the bit. The one I bought is German made from a combined nickel and copper metal base that supposedly promotes saliva.

My horse works on the bit very well and usually has a bit of froth around his mouth at the end of a ride.

I think standing in front of a wall of bits at a tack store is an amazing experience. This is a technology that's really very ancient,don't you think?



New Member
Dec 17, 1999
Visit site
thanks so much for the information. i realize that this is a topic that you learn more clearly over time and with experience. i just would like to learn all i can so i can better understand my lessons. you all are great for writing back-->thanks!! :)
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