Bitting Advice - Mouth Conformation
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.
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*.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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. .
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
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,
2. The Bits and their action.
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
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
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).
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.