Bitting Advice - Mouth Conformation

1. Mouth Conformation - How to assess this and check for Trauma or Oversensitivity.

Mouth conformation is assessed when the horse is relaxed and with his mouth shut. Gently part the lips at the side and observe if the tongue is bulging through the teeth. If it is this indicates that the tongue is large and in my experience a large tongue is anatomically the most common form of mouth discomfort if it is not accommodated with the correct design of mouthpiece. The outer edges of the tongue are far more sensitive than the centre and obviously these parts of the tongue are going to experience increased pressure with certain bits - especially with the single jointed bit. See if you can check out the room between the tongue and the roof of the mouth, you may slip a finger in through the bars and feel how much (if any) clearance there is. This should be done initially without the bit in. Then fit your bit, look at it at rest, take up a contact with your reins at the same angle as if you were on board, and see how it shifts position and what pressure points it is using. This will obviously determine what shape of bit and which port if any, we would use. We have lately noticed a higher incidence of Lampus - this is where the roof of the mouth is soft and swollen. Thankfully we now have many bits at our disposal that are designed specifically to accommodate the larger tongue. Teeth do need regular attention - at least once per year - by a fully qualified Equine Dentist or Veterinary Surgeon and it is also advisable to have the back checked by a reputable Equine Physiotherapist and the fit of the saddle assessed (especially if the horse has changed shape) - again at least once per year. You are probably the only person that has the option to check your horse's mouth on a regular basis for any signs of bruising, cuts, etc.. Check underneath the tongue as ulcers and trauma can occur here. The horse should not object if you press down slightly on his tongue on both the centre and the outer edges. Check out the palate and bars for any sign of rubbing and do not forget to look inside the cheeks in case the flesh has been pushed into the teeth. Obviously if the corners of the lips are rubbed this is clearly apparent.

Bit Seating
This is a procedure that is carried out by an Equine Dentist in order to make more room for the bit or help with better positioning. This is now quite common practice. Most Dentists are usually only too pleased to look at your bits in-situ if you know what we mean !!! *L**L*.

How to assess the feel of a Bit
If you wrap a bit around your bare upper arm and take up a contact or a pull similar to those aids you would give down the rein - you will have some idea of how the bit feels in the mouth. Please bear in mind how much more sensitive the tongue is as opposed to your upper arm and without comfort there is no communication.

How to fit a bit
A general guide would be to look for 1 - 1 ½ lip wrinkles at the corner of the mouth but obviously this hinges on how short the horse's mouth is from the corner of the lip to the muzzle and also how fat the lips are. If the horse's mouth is short then there may be more lip wrinkles in order for the bit to sit at the correct height although it would not be fair to have our horses "grinning" like a Cheshire cat!!


If a horse is overactive in the mouth and trying to get the tongue over the top position it a little higher to discourage this. When starting babies a bit that is a little lower will generally encourage mouthing.


Actions of the Various Cheeks Lozenged Loose Ring Snaffle

This very largely depends on the design of the mouthpiece and cheek. A loose ring will need a little more allowance than a fixed cheek as we do not want the lips covering any part of the hole that the bit ring slides through (as this could cause nipping). When fitting a lozenged loose ring as long as the lips are not covering any part of the hole at rest this should prove ok as when a contact is taken the rings move further away from the corner of the lip. Take up a contact but make sure that you have your reins at the same angle as you would when you are on board or better still find a friend to do this for you.

Single Jointed Loose Ring Snaffle
With a single jointed loose ring you will generally need ¼" (6 mm) clearance before the start of the ring on either side as a single jointed bit will move forward forming a "V" shape and shorten up in the mouth

Unjointed Shaped or Straight Bar Loose Rings
This will not shorten up in the mouth when a contact is taken - as long as the lips are not covering any part of the hole that the bit ring slides through at rest. This should be fine.

Fixed Cheeks (Full Cheek, Eggbutt, D Ring, Baucher, Pelham, Weymouth, etc..)
The lips may be gently brushing up against the cheek but not squished in and this needs to be assessed at rest and then again with a contact.


How to Measure and Assess the feel of your Bit For Thickness, Length, Cheek and Ring Diamet

The Measurement for the Weymouth cheek is taken below the mouthpiece - most are available in 5 cm, 7 cm or 9 cm (7 cm shown) - the Dressage Legal limit is 10 cm.
If your mouthpiece is too wide then no matter how much you support your inside rein there will be too much play and it will slide across the mouth causing friction and losing its position. For instance a lozenge will not remain centrally on the tongue.

I only wish that the same degree of attention was given to the mouth conformation when sourcing and fitting of a bit as is to the back conformation when fitting a saddle. It never ceases to amaze me how much time and money is spent and expert advice sought regarding the saddle and how little, by comparison, is given to the bit which is equally as important when we are trying to make our horses as comfortable as possible in order to develop a willing way of going and harmonious relationship.

People are usually left handed or right-handed and it is perfectly normal for a horse to be better on one rein than the other although this usually evens up through training. However if this is much exaggerated, it may be (for instance if the horse will not bend to the left) that the right hand side of the mouth is sore, as obviously the rein is not being taken forward on the right side. This may be due to over-sensitivity on that bar and the way to check the bars out is to use the ball of the finger or thumb and exert even pressure on both sides. Obviously if he flinches or throws his head up this is indicative of over-sensitivity. Obviously if trauma such as bruising or cuts are visible the mouth must be rested with no bit in - many horses are kept ticking over in a hackamore. There are many causes and if over-sensitivity is found then veterinary assistance should be sought as x-rays may be required as part of the diagnostic procedure. For instance, over the years we have found remnants, roots and sharp shards of Wolf teeth, blind wolf teeth and inflammation between the bars and the periosteal lining. Treatment is available for all of the above and the prognosis is generally good.

Mouth conformation varies enormously between breeds. For instance the Thoroughbreds generally have "easy" mouth conformation; the tongue tends to lie neatly on the floor of the mouth with plenty of room between the tongue and the roof of the mouth (upper palate). A thin tongue will result in more bar pressure from the bit. However they can have angular, thin skinned bars so a slightly thicker mouthpiece will give more weight bearing surface and be kinder. The Irish Draught Cross and the Dutch Warmblood are renowned for having a particularly large tongue and thus everything is nearer the palate. Arabs and Connemaras also usually have very little room for a bit - the tongue is not always larger but the palate is generally lower even if they have not got the dished head.

This usually means that a single jointed bit with a nutcracker action will not be suitable. However, we now have many bits designed to accommodate this mouth conformation. Trakehners, especially when they have the dished face (this obviously leaves less room for everything), can prove tricky to bit as they are generally extremely sensitively skinned and this continues through the mouth. The same degree of skin sensitivity may apply to Cremellos and Appaloosas etc that have the pink lips. Shires, Clydesdales, etc, generally have very fleshy foldy lips and occasionally a loose ring even though of high quality and correctly fitted may nip and they usually have the fleshy tongues as well. We can be much more resourceful now when sourcing a bit in order to accommodate the variance in mouth conformation and the Neue Schule Collection is extremely innovative in design and incorporates both thicker/thinner and smaller/larger mouthpieces.

Evasions usually stem initially from irritation or discomfort but they can very quickly become an ingrained habit (which is accentuated when the horse is tense) - the horse then learns lots of useful little tricks i.e. using the tongue to push down on the bit, popping it over the top, out to the side or crossing the jaw and grabbing the bit etc. For instance it is no longer common practice to start the babies off in a breaking bit (bit with keys) as this can encourage over activity in the mouth. We don't all start with a clean slate and I have acquired many horses over the years with these evasions and if we are going to use a noseband in order to shut the mouth we must be certain that the horse is comfortable. Nobody knows your horse better than you and if you apply a flash and your horse's way of going deteriorates you have merely increased the pressure and caused discomfort within the mouth and you need to look carefully at your bit and what pressure points it is using. I have seen instances where a flash has been employed in conjunction with a fat mouthpiece in order to stop the horse from opening his mouth. This has resulted in the horse not being able to swallow properly - this often causes a head shake. When I have removed the flash and used a thinner bit such as the 16mm Training Lozenge not only has the horse's attitude and way of going improved but they have been relaxed and happy in the mouth. If you know that your horse is comfortable but you do still need to shut the mouth then it may be worth trying a drop noseband - not all horses like the drop but it does not increase the pressure in the mouth to the same extent.


Introducing the Bit

Before you even consider mouthing it is essential to have the teeth checked by an Equine Dentist and if necessary Wolf Teeth removed.

It is no longer common practice to use the breaking bit (Bit with Keys) - these bits were fitted and the horse left in the stable for hours on end to focus on and play with the keys. This often resulted in overactivity in the mouth and would, in many instances, encourage evasions such as drawing the tongue back and trying to put it over the bit. I do not think that the bit should ever be totally focused upon and if it is introduced correctly it is a case of quiet acceptance. When I introduce the bit for the first time I use a straight bar plastic snaffle. The reason I use plastic is to avoid any "clanking" on the teeth. As soon as the horse is confident being bitted I would then move on to the NS Starter for my long reining, lungeing, riding away, etc.. This bit was designed specifically by Neue Schule for starting the babies. It is gentle and should encourage the horse to seek and stretch into the contact forward and down. I generally prefer the 18mm thickness as this gives more weight bearing surface across the whole of the mouth and babies are prone to losing their balance or spooking and the bit should not punish them or cause any bruising.


Figure 1: Gently parting the lips - this is quite a large Dutch Warmblood tongue - this horse was ridden in a French Link Eggbutt Snaffle. He was not stretching into the contact and was often overbent (behind the vertical) - he now goes very happily in a consistent contact in the 8017 Demi Anky Snaffle.



Figure 2: This pony is a Welsh x Connemara with very sensitive lips and mouth (pink) and was prone to rubbing in the corners of the lips on both sides - he was being ridden in a loose ring single jointed snaffle and his way of going was to toss his head then pull down trying to snatch the rein out of the riders hands. As you will see there is no real room between the tongue and the upper palate (roof of the mouth) - he is now extremely happy and relaxed, working in a nice outline and into a contact in a Tranz Beval (8022BEV) and he has sustained no rubs. The Tranz Beval 8022Bev is a very popular bit with the Showing fraternity. .


Figure 3:
Cross section of mouth The poll is a very sensitive area and generally very little consideration is given to this. In my experience many horses that are resistant to poll pressure are extremely happy and compliant if a padded bridle is used or you could improvise with a gel poll guard, etc.. Poll sensitivity should be checked out by an Equine Physio or Osteopath.



Figure 4: The seven points of communication There are basically seven points of communication that the bit can work on; 1, the poll, 2, the nose, 3, the curb groove (the curb does not have to lie in the chin groove to be effective): Within the mouth; 4, the corners of the lips, 5, lower and upper bars, 6, the roof and 7, the tongue.


2. The Bits and their action.
Snaffles

The Action of the Loose RingThe most popular - the loose ring has much more movement and play than a fixed butt or cheek. It discourages fixing, blocking and leaning and encourages mouthing. It allows the mouthpiece more movement so that it may follow the angle of the tongue because the angle of the poll and the horse's overall outline changes through different work etc..


The Action of the Eggbutt
This is a fixed cheek. Everything remains more still in the mouth and if a horse is lacking in the confidence to stretch into the contact this may prove extremely beneficial.

The Action of the BaucherThis causes poll pressure (dressage legal as a Snaffle or as a Bradoon used in conjunction with a Weymouth). When a contact is taken the upper arm is angled forwards causing the mouthpiece to lift - thereby suspending it in the mouth and reducing the pressure across the tongue and the bars - this is often beneficial for cases of over sensitivity. Any extension above the mouthpiece causes poll pressure - this in itself has a head lowering action. However, if the horse is going forward into a contact and active behind this will encourage a rounding action and help tremendously with the outline. I have recently sought clarification from British Dressage and in turn the FEI regarding the legal limit on the Baucher arms and there actually was none!! From the 1st Feb 2005 the maximum height of the baucher/hanging cheek snaffle will be 12 cm - this is from top to bottom - not just the upper arm.


1. The Baucher at rest - the cheeks are always attached to the small ring and the reins to the one main bit ring.


2. When a contact is taken the upper arms tilt forwards causing poll pressure and suspending the bit in the mouth - not only useful for promoting an outline but very beneficial for sensitive mouths as the pressure within the mouth is alleviated.


The Action of the Full Cheek
This reinforces the turning aids and providing the mouthpiece is the correct size (snug fit) will not allow the mouthpiece to slide back and forth across the tongue and bars thus reducing friction. If the upper cheek is fixed to the bridle cheekpiece with fulmer keepers this will fix the mouthpiece in the mouth and also give some poll pressure. The full cheek is very useful for babies as it will not allow the bit to pull through the mouth. It is common practice to start babies in the full cheek and they are also ridden away (introduced to road work, general hacking etc.) in the full cheek although at this stage of their training I would not generally fix it as we wish to encourage mouthing and acceptance.

The Action of the Tranz Half CheekThe half-cheek reinforces the turning aids and will not pull through the mouth - usually used in conjunction with fulmer keepers attaching the bit cheek to the bridle cheek piece. This fixes the mouthpiece and gives a little poll pressure.


The Action of the D Ring
This would fall under the category of a fixed cheek - it also helps with the turning. The racing D cheek is bigger in order to prohibit the bit rings being pulled through the mouth. Fixed cheeks are fitted more snugly than a loose ring and this also reduces friction back and forth across the mouth. The D Ring is ideal for children or novice riders who are not always aware of the potential hazard of the full cheek. I have personally witnessed three accidents with the full cheek including once when a child dismounted and allowed her pony to rub his mouth against a brushing boot - part of the full cheek was caught under the ponies brushing boot near the fetlock (ankle) causing the pony to panic, snap his bridle and career off across a crowded show field. It can also very easily get caught in jumpers (sweaters), hay nets, etc.


The Action of the Universal

Any extension above the mouthpiece will cause poll pressure (head lowering), any extension below the mouthpiece will give leverage (head raising). When the two are combined this is generally referred to as a gag action. The Universal is one of my personal favourites. The gag action is not excessive and even strong horses generally appreciate this and respond as opposed to fighting it.

The cheeks are always attached to the small offset ring at the top - the top ring is angled very cleverly in order to avoid excessive cheek pressure.


1. Gives the action of a loose ring baucher and is usually acceptable for flatwork, etc..


2. Gives a mild gag action


3. Roundings are employed reducing some gag action and allowing the use of one rein


4. Two reins to differentiate


5. A curb strap is used with the reins at any option but usually in conjunction with one rein on the bottom ring to maximize on the gag and curb action. This is an old showjumping trick which is still extensively used. A Curb does not have to lie in the chin groove in order to be effective - if you think about many western bits the curb strap is often employed further up.


The Action of the NS Jumper
This is a cross between the American gag and the Elevator. It is a popular showjumping and cross country bit as it offers more control and precision, it has a lifting effect in front and is especially good for showjumping as you can sit the horse more on its hocks (bottom) and turn tight. This bit is used regularly by many international showjumpers and eventers. It is also used generally for horses that tend to lean owing to its uplifting action. The cheeks reinforce the turning aids and will not pull through the mouth. The NS Jumper Cheeks are allowed for Pony Club, Showjumping and Eventing.


1. Giving the action of an extended loose ring baucher (poll pressure).


2. Most popular setting to maximize on the gag action (Lifting action).


3. Two reins in order to differentiate between the aids.


4. Slightly less gag action - occasionally used if the middle is not sufficient but the bottom a little sharp


5. A curb strap may be used in conjunction with any rein fitting - this is usually employed in the top ring - do not start off with so much tension on the curb strap that it inhibits the gag action. The cheek must be allowed to lift and tilt forwards.


The Action of the English Gag (Running Gag - Lifting Action)
The recommendation is to ride on two reins and I would generally endorse this as I have known horses start off brilliantly on one rein and end up over-bending (chin on chest). It helps tremendously with brakes and outline and is often used on horses that are strong, heavy in front (on the forehand) or too deep (head too near the ground). It is available with rolled leather cheeks (aesthetically more pleasing) but not as fast in their action as our rope cheeks that slip back and forth through the rings much more quickly, giving a faster and more clearly defined aid, however, you will find Neue Schule gags have slightly larger rings so the rolled leather cheeks do slide more easily if you prefer to use leather cheeks. The eggbutt is referred to as the Cheltenham Gag, the loose ring is the Balding Gag (also referred to as the Polo Gag if the rings are larger), and the full cheek is known as the Nelson Gag which is a very popular show jumping cheek (aids turning).

The Action of the Pelham
The Pelham is a compromise between the Bradoon (Snaffle) and Weymouth (Double Bridle) Curb Bit. The purist would maintain that it should always be ridden on two reins but if you take this to extremes the Pelham should never be used anyway as you cannot totally differentiate. However, what is the ideal and what is practical do not always coincide and the proof of the pudding is in the eating. The fact remains that the Pelham has been used successfully with one rein (employing roundings) over many years. Children and novice riders would have great difficulty riding with two reins (too much knitting may prove hazardous!!!). The Pelham exerts pressure on the poll, the curb groove and the mouth. It is common practice to run the curb chain through a curb guard in order to lessen the severity. It is used extensively and is available in a variety of mouthpieces. The Pelham should always be employed with two reins for the show ring. One does need to be methodical if trying out a pelham for jumping purposes. Some horses will not jump with a curb action. The curb action occurs when the horse is stretching out the neck prior to take off as obviously we are not going to "drop" the horse in the bottom of a fence and a contact is needed until one can give through the air. My advice would be to jump a small track first and if the curb action is going to back the horse off try an elasticated curb.

The Action of the Beval
The Beval cheeks have two settings. Option 1 is the action of a loose ring baucher (poll pressure) and Option 2 is the action of a mild gag. The Beval is particularly popular with the show ponies, often used for lead rein and first ridden. It is not a severe bit although it offers a little more control and helps especially the child rider as it promotes outline, head carriage and responsiveness (it helps the child to bring the pony's nose in). It is available with a small, neat bradoon ring and is perfectly acceptable on the show pony's head

The Action of the Doubles (Weymouth and Bradoon Set)
(I apologize in advance - when it comes to dressage I am a purist). Generally used for showing or dressage (only allowed in a dressage test from elementary onwards). Fixed to the top rein, the Bradoon (Snaffle) works on a variety of points within the mouth depending upon the design of mouthpiece and in addition when a Baucher Bradoon is used; the poll. The bottom rein (curb rein) attaches to the Weymouth applying poll pressure (head lowering action) and curb groove pressure, asking for the correct degree of head angle (5° in front of the vertical). I do not introduce the doubles until my horses are going correctly in a Snaffle and I have established a true consistent contact. The doubles are used when more engagement is required (hind legs further underneath and lighter in front - the poll should be the highest point). From personal experience I have discovered that this is a physical impossibility with "cresty" necked stallions!! However, this advanced outline should almost be there in a Snaffle. The advanced outline is needed in order to perform the advanced movements. Many of these movements require the horse to lower the croup, flex the hind leg and sit on the bottom.

The Weymouth needs to be a snug fit and the Bradoon (if lozenged) is usually worn ¼" (6 mm) bigger than the Weymouth - a single jointed bradoon may even be ½" (12 mm) bigger. The Neue Schule Weymouths are often available in a 5 cm, 7 cm or 9 cm cheek (the legal limit is 10 cm). The measurement of the cheek is taken from below the mouthpiece to the end of the arm and does not include the ring for the rein. You will find with the Neue Schule Weymouth cheeks that the balance is always correct as the arm above the mouthpiece is scaled up or down accordingly. The 5 cm gives the least leverage and is ideal for starting sensitive horses or horses that are not truly into the contact, the 7cm is average and is the most popular and the 9cm is used for horses that lean or prove extremely strong. The Weymouth may be used with or without the lip strap; however the lip strap does keep the curb chain in situ. It is common practice to soften the feel of the curb chain in the chin groove by using a rubber, leather or gel curb chain guard. Please note that an elastic curb is not currently legal - personally I think that it should be and it is yet another issue that I am raising with the FEI. Another ruling that I consider illogical is that some FEI/BD legal snaffles are not legal when used with a Weymouth - this includes the mullen mouthpiece and any snaffles with a revolving barrel and independent side action. There are now no rulings regarding material for instance, you may use a plastic Weymouth with a metal bradoon or you may use a stainless steel snaffle with a copper lozenge.

Introducing the Weymouth and Bradoon (Doubles)
This is a little tip that I have found extremely useful over the years and it is not only beneficial when introducing the doubles. Using the same sized ring on your bradoon as you would on your snaffle (70mm instead of 55mm) will give you far more purchase on the mouthpiece.

There comes a time when we all have to bite the bullet and there is always a happy medium. A horse that is going correctly in the Snaffle and working Elementary/Medium should not be left any later as you have to be in doubles to compete at Advanced. Not every rider agrees with this ruling as their horses are collected and happily performing these advanced movements in a snaffle - I sympathise - it is unfortunate but many of the bitting rules that we have to comply with do not seem logical. Plenty of time should always be allowed for the doubles to be introduced in a very relaxed, low key manner so that there is no association between the doubles and more advanced work. At all costs we need to avoid the all too familiar double tension scenario. If the doubles are introduced in plenty of time any little hiccups can be addressed in a much more methodical manner and before they become an issue. The horse's mouth conformation should always be assessed. The doubles, when fitted, should be viewed in situ. This requires two people (one on board and one at the head) and a contact taken in order that the mouthpieces shift position and angle and attain their true position, lying as they are going to do under saddle. Is anything interfering with the palate and have we given the tongue enough room? Allow the horse to become accustomed to the feel of the two bits in the mouth and always work initially off the Bradoon. It is prudent in the first instance to walk the horse in-hand, bringing him back to halt several times. If everything is going well and the horse is relaxed, mount up in a school environment and work equally on both reins, performing up and down transitions from halt to trot through walk. If your horse is still accepting and relaxed in his doubles and if he hacks out sedately, do this two or three times a week for up to three or four weeks. The reasoning behind this is that we do not wish the doubles to become a focal point in the mouth and in a school situation the horse is more likely to be focused on them, than if out on an enjoyable, sedate hack with distractions. If everything is still proceeding well cut your hacks short, return to a school environment and start to play. It is really only from this point forth that we can start to assess our doubles. If your horse does not hack out then after a schooling session with your Snaffle, introduce the doubles for 10 minutes and build up from there. Some horses for various reasons do not hack out. If this is the case choose a day where you have had a relaxed constructive schooling session in your snaffle then pop your doubles in and introduce them as previously described. There is however always the exception to the rule and although this is uncommon I have known some horses in very experienced hands that have not been totally happy or relaxed in any kind of legal snaffle but have welcomed the double and started to work brilliantly.

The Diameter of the Mouthpiece
The diameter is measured at the widest part near the bit ring. As a general guide it is considered the wider the mouthpiece the milder the bit as this gives more weight bearing surface across the bars, etc.. However, there is a happy medium; 16 mm and 18 mm are the most popular thicknesses for a Snaffle whereas the 10, 12 mm or 14 mm are more popular for a Bradoon in conjunction with the Weymouth.

The German Hollow mouth is an obvious example of people taking thicker is kinder to the extreme. It was immensely popular several years ago. These bits were so incredibly fat that some horses could not even close their mouths properly. It stretched the skin so much in the corner of the lip that some horses' lips chafed and being hollow it was so light that when one gave with the rein it did not drop back down in the mouth quickly. This resulted in a very 'woolly' aid - I am not saying that some horses do not go well in this bit but the vast majority that I changed, for instance, into the 16mm or 18mm Tranz, Training or Demi Anky mouthpieces which were much more comfortable in the mouth and greatly improved in their way of going.

I receive many phone calls from people who are quite despondent as they cannot understand why their horse always goes brilliantly, but only for a short space of time, when they change into a new bit. If your horse has a sensitive mouth then this is quite understandable and you have simply got a pressure buildup which means that you need to be alternating between two or three different mouthpieces that use different pressure points. You will soon find at what point you need to change mouthpieces.


The Tranz Lozenge
It is very important that the arrow engraved at the end of the mouthpiece is positioned on the left hand side (nearside) of the horse pointing forwards otherwise the lozenge will be positioned in an incorrect angle over the tongue.


The Tranz (or any other rounded lozenge) does not suffer from the major design flaw of the French Link. When a contact is taken with the French Link there are two proud semicircles either side of the flat link which dig into the tongue - this often discourages a true contact. Compare the feel between the Tranz and the French Link by wrapping them both around your upper arm and try to imagine how much more sensitive the tongue is. The Tranz Link is ergonomically designed for both comfort and communication. This design is a very popular dressage mouthpiece. It encourages a true contact and higher level of responsiveness. The lozenge is set on at an angle activating more feel over the tongue, so when a contact is taken, the rounded lozenge rolls down contouring smoothly over the tongue, utilizing feel but not abusing it, thereby enabling clearly defined aids to be given through the reins.
The ergonomically designed Tranz is shaped over the tongue, thereby taking up less room in the mouth and not interfering with the palate. The fitting of the Tranz (or any other lozenge) is critical - the lozenge is designed to sit centrally on the tongue and we do not want it sliding back and forth across the tongue. This bit does not shorten up in the mouth, unlike single jointed bits. In order to assess the size a bit measure is available on our website. When the Tranz is in situ the lips may touch the hole that the bit ring slides through, though not cover any part of it. When a contact is taken the holes will shift further away from the lips. The ergonomically designed Tranz conforms to the horse's mouth anatomy. It is smoothly contoured over the tongue, giving even pressure and shifting the emphasis away from the outer edges where the horse is more sensitive, encouraging contact and response. The single jointed bit shoots forward in the mouth, shortening up, creating an acute angle (nutcracker), hitting the outer edges of the bars and excessively squeezing the outer edges of the tongue, thus creating the possibility of palate interference which will not encourage a true contact or outline.


The Tranz Mouthpiece.


A Single Jointed Mouthpiece.


The Starter Mouthpiece.


This mouthpiece is designed specifically for starting babies. The Neue Schule training lozenge is not too rotund or long so it will not cause excessive pressure in the centre of the tongue or break too near the tongues sensitive outer edges. The lozenge will align at 90 degrees to the vertical when a contact is taken - this will offer a smooth weight bearing surface over the tongue. The angle joining the lozenge, combined with the shape of the Demi Anky arms give extensive tongue relief it will not force the tongues sensitive outer edges onto the teeth. The arms are slightly proud down towards the bar offering a more comfortable, even weight bearing surface. The end of the mouthpiece towards the bit ring curves away from the lip prohibiting any chafing or rubbing in that area whilst not lessening the aid for turning. The Starter mouthpiece is designed for comfort, encouraging the baby to seek forward and down into the contact. The central lozenge gently stimulates the tongue promoting mouthing and salivation whilst the comfort factor deters overactivity which may lead to tongue evasions such as drawing the tongue back, getting the tongue over the bit, etc..


The Team-Up Mouthpiece.


Our usual training lozenge mouthpiece is set on at 90 degrees to the vertical when a contact is taken - this mouthpiece is different - we have set the training lozenge on at 90 degrees so it is horizontally aligned when a contact is taken. We have incorporated more exaggerated, symmetrically curved arms in order to accommodate the larger or more sensitive tongue - this bit should not cause palate interference, abuse the tongue or force the outer edges down into the teeth - it will also enhance the turning aids by exerting a little more pressure on the cheek. This mouthpiece exerts kind uniform pressure throughout the mouth and takes up very little room. The central lozenge gently stimulates the tongue promoting mouthing and salivation.


The Verbindend (Connection) Mouthpiece.


Usually sourced when a true, consistent contact has already been established Patented, unique bit exclusive to the Neue Schule Collection. The 20 degree Tranz angled lozenge stimulates more feel in the centre of the tongue enabling a more precise aid to be given thus promoting a higher level of responsiveness. The 20 degree angle of the Tranz will give the rider a more finite connection but will not abuse or desensitize the tongue nor will it squeeze the tongues sensitive outer edges forcing them down onto the teeth. The Tranz lozenge, combined with the curved Demi Anky arms subtly connects the pressure points required to encourage the horse to soften and relax through the jaw and topline promoting the throughness needed for sustained, harmonious movement. This mouthpiece is also useful for the larger tongue and lower palate as it rolls further forward within the mouth when a contact is taken.


The Waterford Mouthpiece
The shape of the Neue Schule Waterford differs from the conventional - it is slightly slimmer and is not as spherical a shape but more of a smooth barrel incorporating a slight rise in the centre of each link. Sometimes people look at the Waterford and have a problem with it but horses generally do not as it is not rigid in the mouth but fluid, bending in every direction. It therefore usually suits any type of mouth conformation and is excellent for horses that lean or pull down as it gives specific pressure across the mouth where the balls are thereby creating a head raising action and also helps tremendously with control. It also prohibits the horse from "grabbing" the bit between the teeth as the Waterford is extremely difficult to gain any purchase on. It generally promotes mouthing and salivation. The Waterford is usually worn ¼" - ½" (6 -12 mm) longer than your traditional mouthpiece in order to curl around the lips and maximize the effect. However, the Waterford when in the Pelham is not worn any longer than normal otherwise there will be no curb action. The Waterford Pelham is a very popular bit in the show ring especially for the show cobs as they usually have thick cresty necks and have a habit of "setting themselves".


The Demi Anky Mouthpiece.


The Demi Anky is a very popular Dressage bit. It can be used as a Snaffle or a Bradoon in conjunction with the Weymouth and usually encourages a true consistent contact. Although single jointed (and I do not usually use single jointed bits for my flatwork), it is curved and shaped very cleverly, it curves slightly away from the lip so as not to squash it in, it is curved subtly down towards the bar giving an even weight bearing surface across the bars it bends down toward the central joint so that when a contact is taken it forms a long low shape over the tongue offering tongue relief. Owing to the shape of the bit it is very rare that palate interference occurs. I find this design is very beneficial for horses that back off or only offer an intermittent contact. Do not be put off trying this design if your horse leans or is heavy - horses often lean because they are not comfortable in the mouth. I know that this may not sound logical but horses will lean into pain or discomfort.

The Schulung Lozenge
An ergonomically designed double jointed mouthpiece - the lozenge lies on a horizontal plane eliminating any unequal tongue pressure and shifting pressure away from the sensitive outer edges of the tongue. There is a unique curvature of the lozenge, it is convex on top of the tongue, allowing more room, and concave underneath the palate, following the natural alignment of the tongue and the roof of the mouth. This therefore conforms to the mouth anatomy of the horse, offering comfort and encouraging mouthing and communication. Due to the thickness and curvature of the lozenge it gives an even pressure across the tongue. It does not suffer from the same major design flaw as the thin, flat French Link. With the French Link when a contact is taken the two little proud semi-circles joining the link are felt by the horse near the outer edges of the tongue and this is where they are most sensitive. The Schülung lozenge is one of the most popular mouthpieces with the dressage fraternity.

The 1CC "Comfy Contact" Mouthpiece
This mouthpiece has a revolving barrel in the centre that restricts full closure - this design and action does not squeeze the sensitive outer edges of the tongue and should prevent any palate interference. The independent side action allows clear communication for instance, if the horse is falling in one would simply raise the inside hand in order to lift the inside shoulder. This mouthpiece is also excellent for horses that have little room between the tongue and the palate or for horses that are short from the corner of the lip to the muzzle owing to the fact that the mouthpiece will not shoot forward. Generally speaking an eggbutt (fixed cheek) could incline a horse to block, fix or lean however, with the huge amount of movement obtained by the independent side action this is not so with this eggbutt design.

The Comfy Contact mouthpiece has no copper inlays unlike most other bits of this type. This is owing to the fact that we have experience of horses being chafed and sensitized by the undulating copper inlays. So the Neue Schule Mouthpiece is smooth and our material is solid sweetiron. Sweetiron is not a new material - it has stood the test of time by proving to indeed live up to its name giving a sweet taste within the mouth encouraging mouthing, relaxation and the horse to stretch into a true contact (stainless steel can dry the mouth). The sweetiron mouthpiece is black and it is designed to oxidize - this is what tastes
sweet and it is during oxidization that a thin brown coating will appear on the outer surface and this will not wear off as our mouthpieces are solid.

In order to clean a Neue Schule Sweetiron mouthpiece simply wash it off after use and allow it to dry naturally. The cheeks are made of stainless steel

The Neue Schule "NS" Jumper Mouthpiece
The mouthpiece is slim so it is quite active over the bars. The lozenge in the centre reduces pressure from the sensitive outer edges of the tongue but does utilize the centre owing to the clearly defined shape of the lozenge. This helps with lightness and lift whilst still encouraging a contact (they still take you in).

The Single Jointed Mouthpiece
This is over 2,000 years old and obviously since then significant advances have been made in design. I rarely use a single jointed bit for flatwork (apart from the shaped, curved Demi Anky) - I find the nutcracker action does not encourage a true contact. When a contact is taken, pressure is exerted over the outer edges of the bars and the edges of the tongue are squeezed excessively. There is also a danger of palate interference. However, there is always the exception to the rule so a straight armed single jointed Bradoon is available. The single joint usually has a head-raising action.

The Dove Curved French Link
Useful for oversensitivity: Secured with soft flat nylon cord to smoothly contour over the tongue. If a horse does not salivate one has to be very observant as no plastic or rubber bit will slide as freely over the surface of the skin as readily as metal.

The Mullen Mouthpiece
This is a slightly curved bar with no joints. Very kind, giving universal mouth pressure, some bar relief and does not cause any pressure between the inner cheeks and the teeth (there is no closure). This type of design is particularly suitable if the horse is very short from the muzzle to the corner of the lip as it will not form a V shape and shoot forward in the mouth unlike most jointed bits. However, the solid mullen mouth usually gives a very wooden feel through the rein.

The Intermediere/Schooling Bit Mouthpiece
The 8025 Intermedière/Schooling bit - this mouthpiece is designed specifically to give tongue relief and promote a correct outline (discourages leaning) although it would not be considered severe. It is very cleverly shaped to give tongue relief but be kind over the bars. It does not cause any pressure between the cheeks and the teeth as there is no closure. Unlike the mullen mouth horses are usually very responsive in this, and the eggbutt type handlebar finish is brilliant for the oversensitive mouth that is prone to rubbing in general and especially at the corner of the lips, as it usually eradicates any rubbing or chafing. Not dressage legal but often used for training purposes especially to save the tongue or solve long term tongue evasions, such as drawing the tongue back or trying to pop it over the top or out to the side. Tongue problems with dressage horses have to be solved if the tongue is seen even slightly sticking out marks will be lost - the Intermediere/Schooling bit removes the pressure then breaks the habit.

The Training Lozenge
Same lozenge as the Tranz but set on horizontally as opposed to an angle. This is very good for establishing a true, consistent contact. It is especially good for the sensitive mouth where the contact is inconsistent. The training lozenge is one of our most popular Dressage Legal Mouthpieces, it is a very gentle bit, the lozenge rests centrally on the tongue stimulating feel thereby promoting mouthing and relaxation. For a horse that lacks the confidence to stretch into the hand it is often employed in the eggbutt encouraging the horse to take the rein forwards and down.

The Fixed Cheek Weymouth
It is not very often nowadays that we use a sliding cheek Weymouth. Better results are obtained from the fixed cheek as it is stiller in the mouth so the horse is more accepting and the aids through the rein more definitive. The play and mouthing is generally obtained by using it in conjunction with a loose ring bradoon.

The High Arched Upover Weymouth 8009
Gives tongue relief. Usually sourced for strong horses or where we need to lighten up the forehand. Not generally a first choice when introducing doubles.

The Mors Lotte Weymouth 8010
Sometimes known as the French Curb a very mild Weymouth giving even pressure across the tongue and bar relief. It is set on at 90° and very gently curved.

The Forward Cut Ported Weymouth 8011
This is a slightly more exaggerated version of the 8028 - it offers tongue relief and is angled slightly higher in order to discourage leaning.

The Forward Cut Ported Weymouth (Thinner Mouth) 8028
Usually proves to be a very comfortable Weymouth, exerting even pressure across the whole of the bars and giving plenty of tongue relief.

The Ultimate Tongue Relief "UTR" Weymouth 8028R
The revolver is FEI approved. A new combination of mouthpiece and cheek that has proven phenomenally popular with many international dressage trainers and riders. This gives even more tongue relief than the 8015. This revolutionary design allows poll, curb chain and bar pressure without compromising the tongue and offers unique independent aids for finite control of the head carriage (head tilts, etc..). This design is comfortable and usually eradicates fixing, blocking and leaning. Although not normally a Weymouth that we would use when introducing the doubles unless the tongue is huge and needs to be accommodated. This is not just a Weymouth for the professionals - we now have many amateur riders benefiting from this design.

The Revolving Cheek Weymouth 8015
FEI approved. A relatively new concept with an extra low wide port to ensure a dramatic reduction in tongue pressure. This revolutionary design allows poll, curb chain and bar pressure without compromising the tongue, and offers unique independent aids for finite control of the head carriage (head tilts, etc).. This design is comfortable and usually eradicates fixing, blocking and leaning. This Weymouth would not be deemed severe but we would not usually use it when introducing the doubles.


The Gently Sloping Forward Weymouth 8016
Definitely one of our most popular ergonomically designed Weymouths - thick enough to ensure kindness over the bars without taking up too much room in the mouth. The forward sloping port offers tongue relief without impinging up into the palate. This Weymouth is also especially favoured in Germany. Owing to the comfort factor this may be used for starting with doubles, long term use or on older horses alike.

The Gently Sloping Cut Away Weymouth 8027
Long overdue - launched August 2004!! : A mild ergonomically designed light weight Weymouth. Very gently sloping cut-away mouthpiece - one would not call it ported as such - more of a wide, low curved tongue groove designed for maximum comfort over the bars and giving tongue relief whilst taking up as little room as possible in the mouth with no danger of any palate interference. 16 mm diameter over the bars and tapering to 8 mm over the tongue. Available from 5" - 6 ½" in ¼" increments with various options on a 5 cm, 7 cm and 9 cm shank. This is proving to be one of the most comfortable and popular Weymouths in the collection.

The Low Wide Upover Ported Weymouth 9003
A very traditional design that is still as popular today. This gives good weight bearing surface over the bars, a good amount of tongue relief with a slightly cut away medium height medium wide ported centre.

The Forward Cut Ported Liverpool 2/3 Slot 16mm 9007 2/3
The Liverpool has a similar action to the Weymouth acting on the poll, the curb groove and pressure points within the mouth hinging on the design of the mouthpiece. The Liverpool is available in either a two or three slot. Obviously the lower down the rein is employed the more emphasised the action is however, many people drive and ride "rough cheek" - this means that the rein is attached to the snaffle ring. Predominantly used for driving in the past but many more people are now sourcing this bit where more control is required for cross country and general faster work under saddle. Although the Liverpool would be deemed severe when used with the rein in the third slot the mouthpiece we have used in conjunction is ergonomically designed for tongue relief and comfort whilst also offering good weight bearing surface over the bars - we have experienced no damage with this combination and found it offers phenomenal control.

The Ultimate Tongue Relief Liverpool "UTR" 2/3 Slot 9007R 2/3
As above but does offer independent side action and is particularly useful for horses that "set" on the bit. By setting I mean blocking, leaning or physically grabbing the bit between the teeth.

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