One of the key messages bit manufacturer Sprenger always highlights is that a bit is NOT a controlling device, but acts as a communication tool to help the horse understand the messages that we are sending.
Whilst this sounds simple enough, it is often not as easy to find the best bit for that communication, because each horse is different in terms of their temperament and behaviour under saddle: Some are stronger in the hand, some are lighter and some are in between. Not all horses have the same oral anatomy, some have thicker tongues, some have lower palates. Some may behave differently at a competition than at home in training.
Also consider how your style of riding or your discipline may affect your horse’s behaviour. In eventing for example, the horse may be light to the contact in the dressage phase, yet strong on cross country or in the jumping arena. Each rider also has a different training regime and perhaps multiple coaches that will have different concepts on what will and won’t work and how the horse should be going.
With all these variables in play, it can become rather difficult to choose which bit(s) will be best suited to you and your horse. Bit fitting is not an exact science and despite the amount of information that is available and the experience each specialist offers, there’s no guarantee that a new bit will be able solve all your problems from day one.
You can have a bit that — in theory — is perfectly matched to your horse and fitted by an independent specialist; however it doesn’t mean that the first ride will be perfect. The most important thing you can do when assessing whether a new bit will suit your horse is to listen and evaluate how your horse responds.
The SPRENGER TEST CENTRE offers a selection of popular Sprenger products that can be hired for a fee and tried out at home without a commitment to purchase if it ends up not being the right match. This service allows our customers to trial different bits for their horse and observe their response over a period of time in their familiar training environment. We can effectively test and evaluate a new bit to ensure that the horse is happy and the riding experience feels how we want it to be.
If the results don’t turn out to be what we had hoped for or initially thought, we can use this information to go back to the drawing board and then select an alternative from the TEST CENTRE without running up a significant bill in the process. We believe it helps riders make the best possible choice for their horse in the long run.
In my next blog, I’ll discuss the process I went through finding my sensitive yet rather strong Prix St Georges dressage bit and some of the things I learnt along the way.