Any horse rider knows that a bit is a very important part of the sport. It helps you to communicate with your horse and get the most out of your riding experience, so buying the perfect one is imperative. What’s more, the bit sits inside your horse’s mouth, so you really want to get it right so it is comfortable for them.
However, there are so many types of horse bit out there, with so many different styles, that it can be difficult to know which one is going to be best horse bit for your horse and for you as the rider.
Fortunately for you, we have compiled a buying guide below giving you all the information you need on horse bits, including the different types and parts of bits. We’ve also assembled a list of what we think are the best horse bits out there on the market today, so you can find your perfect one.
Best Horse Bit – Comparison Table
|Image||Product Name||Features||Star Rating|
|1) Weaver Leather All Purpose Ring Snaffle Bit||Malleable Iron Ring Snaffle Bit|
5" Mouth Piece
3 inch Rings
|4.2 out of 5|
|2) AJ Tack Jr Cowhorse Bit||Junior cow horse three piece dog bone snaffle mouth gag bit|
Sweet iron 3 piece dog bone snaffle mouth
Mouthpiece: 5" 3 piece sweet iron twist wire snaffle
|4.6 out of 5|
|3) Tough 1 Kelly Silver Star Stainless Steel Mullen Mouth Reining Horse Bit||Mullen mouth reiner|
5 inch mouth
|4.2 out of 5|
|4) Tackmaster Professional Waterford Baucher Boucher Hanging Cheek Horse Bit||Mouth: 5" Cheeks: 3 3/4"|
|3.9 out of 5|
|5) Happy Mouth 3-Ring Shaped Mullen Mouth Gag Bit||Rings are made of a top grade stainless steel|
The space age polymer provides for a gentler bit for a happier horse.
The unique Apple scent encourages horses to accept the bit.
|4 out of 5|
|6)Happy Mouth Shaped Mullen Loose Ring Bit||Made from stainless steel for durability|
Flexible and long lasting polyurethane Mouthpiece
Unique apple scent
|4.3 out of 5|
|7) Coronet Western Medium Port Curb Bit||Resistant to rusting|
Durable and reliable
Reduces any pinching
|4.6 out of 5|
|8) Professional Equine Stainless Steel 5” Snaffle Horse Bit||5" Mouth, 3" Cheeks, Roller diameter is 0.63"|
Hinged at the Center
|4.3 out of 5|
|9) Professional Equine Stainless Steel 4.5” Snaffle Horse Bit||4-1/2" Mouth|
Professional Equine Western D-Ring Comfort Snaffle
|5 out of 5|
|10) The Bob Avila Collection by Professionals Choice Equine O-Ring Signature Snaffle Bit||Mouthpiece is single-jointed|
The rings measure 3”
Durable and strong
|4.2 out of 5|
|11) Korsteel Copper Oval Link Hunter Dee Bit||Designed to provide maximum comfort |
The shape also reduces the severe direct pressure
Center piece designed to encourage salivation and acceptance of the bit.
|4.6 out of 5|
|12) Korsteel JP Stainless Steel Copper Mouth Oval Link Loose Ring Snaffle Bit||More comfortable for your horse|
O-rings are hand polished stainless steel
5” mouthpiece is made from copper
|4.6 out of 5|
What Is The Purpose Of A Horse Bit?
First and foremost, it is important to know what a horse bit is actually used for and what its purpose is. A horse bit isn’t actually designed to control the horse, but used, however, to communicate the rider’s wishes to the horse.
The bit applies subtle pressure to the bars of the mouth which are made of sensitive cartilage. The horse then responds to this pressure and moves in the direction that you want them to.
Different Types Of Bits
There is a large range of different bits out there, and, with the exception of one or two, they all fall into one of a few different categories. Take a look below.
A snaffle bit is the most common and popular type of bit. It has one set of reins and therefore only applies pressure to the horse’s mouth. It is common in English riding but its gentle nature makes it a great choice for inexperienced horses and riders, too.
Snaffles have straight mouthpieces or are single jointed and can have a variety of different ring styles. These ring styles are most commonly:
- Eggbutt — this is the most common type of snaffle ring style. It is the mildest of all snaffles and, because of the way the rings are attached, it is unlikely to pinch the horse’s mouth.
- D-Ring — the D-ring is another that is very mild and unlikely to pinch. It is called a D-ring because of the D shaped rings that the reins attach to.
- Loose Ring — with the loose ring, the rings aren’t fixed to the mouthpiece and can move freely. The loose ring bit is very gentle but some owners find that, because the rings aren’t fixed, they can pinch the side of the mouth a little. However, bit guards can help with this.
- Full Cheek — a full cheek bit looks similar to a D-ring, expect the rings are smaller and also have ‘cheeks’ that protrude from the points of the ring. This is designed to stop the bit being pulled through the horse’s mouth. The top of the cheeks can be fixed to the bridle but this gives the bit a slight curb action as it also pulls on the poll a little.
- Hanging Cheek — this snaffle bit has a cheekpiece that’s fixed to the bridle while the reins are attached to the cheek. It is similar to the eggbutt.
- Bradoon — this is usually either an eggbutt or loose ring snaffle bit. However, what makes the bradoon different, is that it was developed to be used as a combination bit with a curb bit.
A curb bit is also known as a leverage bit because the arms (or shanks) pull against the curb chain (or strap) and bridle to not only apply pressure to the horse’s mouth but also to the poll, cheeks and chin.
- Western Grazing — this is the most common type of curb bit. It gets its name from the fact that the shanks were originally angled backward so that the horse could continue to graze with the bit still in his mouth.
- Tom Thumb — the Tom Thumb bit has a single jointed mouthpiece which often leads to it mistakenly being classed as a snaffle. It is a popular choice for training but is often used in the show ring, too.
- Western S-Shank Curb — this bit has an ‘S’ shaped shank which is where it gets its name. It also has a high port mouthpiece that can be either copper or stainless steel.
- Western Correction — this is designed to be used with horses who have been well trained or have lots of experience with bits. It is used to enhance a horse’s response to the reins.
- Gag — gag bits are usually used for horses that have a strong pull. They’re not allowed at dressage competitions but are common on polo ponies or eventing horses. There are a few different types of gag bits:
- Gag Snaffle — this looks like a snaffle bit with a ring attached to either side of the mouthpiece, but is still a curb bit. The cheekpiece on a gag snaffle has two holes with a rope or leather cord running through them that the reins are attached to. There are two different gag snaffles — the Cheltenham gag which has an eggbutt ring, and the balding gag which has a loose ring.
- Continental — this has a main ring in the cheekpiece that has a smaller ring for the bridle at the top and two smaller rings underneath for the reins which can be attached to either of the rings. This gag bit is sometimes known as a Dutch gag or Pessoa gag.
- Elevator — this is sometimes known as the American gag and has a jointed mouthpiece that can move up and down the curved cheekpiece. It is used for extra control but should only be used once all other options have been exhausted.
- Duncan — this is sometimes known as a half-ring bit and is similar to the snaffle except for the fact that the ring isn’t closed (and is only half a ring). It has to be used with gag reins because there’s no way to attach regular reins.
Combination bits are also known as double bridles and are really two bits rather than two bridles. They are usually used with two sets of reins or a rein converter, which means you only need one set of reins.
- Pelham — while the pelham isn’t necessarily a combination bit, it does require two sets of reins. It is the most popular of its type.
- Weymouth — this bit is commonly used with the bradoon. It is often used for dressage and requires a double bridle and two sets of reins.
- Kimberwick — this is similar in appearance to the D-ring snaffle bit with a curb chain. It is also known as a Kimblewick and is technically a curb bit.
While it is thought that bits are only for riding, there are a number of bits out there that are designed for horses being led by hand. These should never be used when you are riding your horse.
- Chifney Anti-Rearing — this bit is designed for horses that are difficult to lead and works by applying downward pressure as the horse tries to pull away.
- Tattersall Ring — this is used mainly to lead young racehorses and passes through the mouth and around the lower jaw.
- Horse-Shoe Stallion — this is a mullen mouth bit with decorative horseshoe brass cheekpieces. While it was designed for stallions, it isn’t exclusively for them.
Different Parts of a Bit
The parts a bit has depends on the type of bit you are using.
A snaffle bit, which is the most common English bit, is made up of just two parts — the mouthpiece and the rings. The mouthpiece goes in the horses mouth, and the bit rings are what the bridle and reins are attached to.
Curb bits are different; they too have a mouthpiece which goes in the horse’s mouth, but they don’t have bit rings. Instead, they have cheeks, which include the shank which is below the mouthpiece and the purchase which is above it.
The purchase is fixed to the bridle and can be short or long. A short purchase will move much quicker in the horse’s mouth, while a long purchase will be much slower. The shank gives the leverage and can also be short or long. Shorter shanks give the rider less control and a longer shank gives them more control.
Different Types of Mouthpieces
The mouthpiece is arguably the most important part of the bit because it sits inside your horse’s mouth, and this is the part we are most going to be focusing on in this guide.
A mouthpiece is a feature of both a snaffle and curb bit and can vary greatly in the material its made from as well as its physical appearance. Mouthpieces are made up of a bar that can either be a straight bar, two bars or a chain, and can be made of different types of metal. Some are also made from rubber or plastic for horses that have sensitive mouths, and others are flavored to encourage the horse to accept the bit.
There are a number of different mouthpieces out there. The following are the most common.
- Mullen Mouth — this is a single bar mouthpiece that is gentler than a jointed mouthpiece because there is no pinching, which means it is better for horses with sensitive mouths. It is usually made of high tech plastic or vulcanized rubber.
- Jointed — jointed mouthpieces can either be single or double-jointed.
- Single — single-jointed mouthpieces are the most common type of jointed mouthpiece and are joined together in the center. One of the disadvantages of the single-jointed mouthpiece though is that they often create a nutcracker effect when the rider applies pressure to the reins, which can sometimes pinch the horse.
- Double — a double-jointed mouthpiece has two bars that are joined to a centerpiece that can be a link, port, roller or a variety of other shapes. The nutcracker effect that’s often experienced with a single-jointed mouthpiece is minimized.
- Port — a port mouthpiece has an upward curve in the middle that reduces the pressure on the horse’s tongue. This means that the horse isn’t able to use his tongue to lessen the effect of the bit. The port comes in a range of styles and can be low (less than 1 inch), medium (1 to 2 inches) or high (2 inches and above).
- Ported Link — this is sometimes called a double-joint port and has a center port that is linked on both sides to the bar.
- Cathedral — a cathedral port is a high port that has been flattened and should only be used by experienced riders on horses that have been well trained.
- Spade — this mouthpiece has a spade like appearance that has a copper roller in the center. It is considered a strong bit and should only ever be used by experienced riders on horses that have been highly trained.
- Spoon — a spoon mouthpiece is gentler on the horse’s mouth because it has a flattened media or high port. It is normally used on highly trained horses for advanced maneuvres when working cattle.
- Roller — a roller mouthpiece consists of rollers or barrels that are made of copper and or stainless steel or sweet iron. They encourage the horse to salivate which makes the bit more responsive.
- Single Roller — a single roller has just one roller in the center of the bar. This roller can be thick or thin but is generally made of copper.
- Alternating — this roller also has rollers in the middle of the bar, but more than one, and they alternate between copper and stainless steel or sweet iron.
- Crickets — this contains a single roller in the middle of a medium or high port. The name ‘cricket’ comes from the noise that the bit makes when it’s rolled.
- Billy Allens — this mouthpiece is made up of three individual pieces. It is a jointed piece with a single roller in the middle. It is most commonly used in training colts that are moving on from a snaffle bridle. It is named after a Kansas horseman.
- Broken Segunda — a broken segunda is the opposite of a high port mouthpiece. The curve bends downwards instead. It’s mainly used by experienced riders on horses that are very strong.
- Center Link — a center link mouthpiece is a three-piece, double-linked mouthpiece that has a center link in a variety of different shapes. This type of mouthpiece gives the rider more control.
- French — this has a peanut-shaped center link.
- Oval Mouth — this has a rounded ‘lozenge’ shaped center link. It is also known as a ‘lozenge mouth’.
- Ball — this has a ball center link that is often made of copper. It is considered harsher than a French link because the ball applies the pressure in one place.
- Dr. Bristol — this is similar to the oval mouth but is longer and flatter which means that it puts more pressure on the horse’s tongue. The flat edges of the Dr. Bristol make this mouthpiece relatively harsh.
- Lifesaver — this is often used as a transition bit for horses. Its center link is an ‘O’ ring that gives it it’s name.
- Dogbone — the dogbone center link often has a roller (or multiple rollers) on it. Again, it gets it’s name from its appearance.
- Moon — the ‘moon’ piece in this mouthpiece allows the horse to move their tongue and is therefore a softer mouthpiece. It is available as a quarter or half-moon.
- Keys — this is mainly used to train young horses and refers to the ‘keys’ which can either be attached to a center ring or a roller type attachment to a mullen mouthpiece. It gives the young horse something to play with so they will accept the bit.
- Waterford — the Waterford can be anything from 5 to 9 links and looks like a ball and chain link. is extremely flexible which means the horse can’t lean on it. It is popular with show jumpers and doesn’t apply unnecessary pressure.
- Double Mouth — the double mouthpiece has two mouthpieces that can either be straight or jointed. Sometimes called a scissor bit, this is an extremely harsh bit because the double mouthpiece intensifies the nutcracker effect. Therefore, it should only be used on horses that are very strong and don’t respond to other bits.
- Twisted — a twisted mouthpiece can be mullen mouthed or jointed. These mouthpieces are considered to be one fo the harshest mouthpieces, although the number of turns or twists will determine the severity. A slow twist has few turns and is the least severe, and a fast twist is much harsher.
- Wire — a wire mouthpiece is similar to a twisted one, but is thinner and therefore even more severe. Some consider a twisted wire mouthpiece to border on cruelty.
- Chain — this is another extremely severe mouthpiece, but is fortunately not so common these days. It is made of a number of links and often looks like a bicycle chain.
- Hollow — These mouthpieces are extremely light because they are hollow. They are a much kinder mouthpiece but are not right for every horse because the pressure is applied over a wider area.
Now we know all about the different types of bits, the different parts of a bit and the different mouthpieces, it is time to take a look at the best horse bits below. All of these mouthpieces are available to you on Amazon.
The Best Horse Bits — Reviewed
This bit from Weaver Leather is a nickel plated and malleable iron ring snaffle bit. It has a 5” mouth piece and 2 1/2” O-rings. The O-rings mean this is a mild bit, perfect for beginner riders, training exercises and for older horses. It helps keep the mouth soft and your horse responsive. Users have reported that this bit doesn’t rust easily and is very durable.
- Malleable Iron Ring Snaffle Bit
- 5″ Mouth Piece
- 3 inch Rings
This bit from AJ Tack is a stainless steel junior cow horse gag bit. It consists of 5″ sweet iron three piece twist wire snaffle, with the sweet iron encouraging your horse to take the bit, and the cheeks are 5 3⁄4″ stainless steel gag cheeks. This bit is very sturdy and durable and will last you a long time. A curb chain is recommended to be used with this bit.
- Junior cow horse three piece dog bone snaffle mouth gag bit
- Sweet iron 3 piece dog bone snaffle mouth
- Mouthpiece: 5″ 3 piece sweet iron twist wire snaffle
The Tough 1 horse bit is a mullen mouth reiner bit made from stainless steel. Strong and durable, it measures 5 inches across the mouthpiece and the cheeks are 7.5 inches. This bit is a soft bit, great for new riders or for horses that haven’t had much training.
- Mullen mouth reiner
- Stainless steel
- 5 inch mouth
This waterford snaffle bit from Tackmaster is a multi-jointed type of snaffle which has a mouthpiece made of a chain of rounded links. It is good bit to use on a horse or ponies where extra control is needed. Made of stainless steel and copper, the copper encourages your horse to take the bit. The mouthpiece measures 5” and the cheeks 3 3/4”.
- Mouth: 5″ Cheeks: 3 3/4″
- Stainless Steel/Copper
- 5″ mouth
From Happy Mouth, this bit is an apple bit that is designed to encourage your horse to accept it. It comes in two sizes, both 5” and 5.75” and the mouthpiece is made of non toxic, soft, flexible and long lasting polyurethane to help protect the horse’s teeth. The cheeks and rings are made of a top grade stainless steel. Great for horses that lean on the bit or get heavy on the forehand, this mullen mouth provides for a gentler bit for a happier horse.
- Rings are made of a top grade stainless steel
- The space age polymer provides for a gentler bit for a happier horse.
- The unique Apple scent encourages horses to accept the bit.
Another bit from Happy Mouth, this loose ring bit is slightly smaller than the bit above, coming in sizes 4″ and 4.5”. Again, the unique apple scent encourages your horse to accept the bit and the mouthpiece is made of non toxic, soft, flexible and long lasting polyurethane. This also helps to protect your horse’s teeth and keeps the bit gentle. The O-rings are made from stainless steel for durability.
- Made from stainless steel for durability
- Flexible and long lasting polyurethane Mouthpiece
- Unique apple scent
This bit from Coronet is a Western quarter curb bit with a medium port. The mouthpiece measures 5 inches and the bit is made from malleable iron and is chrome plated. Great for horses that need a slightly stronger bit, this bit is both durable and reliable and reduces any pinching. It is also resistant to rusting and will last you a long time.
- Resistant to rusting
- Durable and reliable
- Reduces any pinching
This Professional Equine bit is a snaffle roller bit, with copper rollers with a diameter of 0.63” that are designed to encourage your horse to take the bit. Hinged at the center, the mouthpiece measures 5 inches and and the cheeks measure 3 inches. It does not have a sharp break like a traditional snaffle, so it gives your horse some tongue relief. This means it is great for young horses or those who have not had much training.
- 5″ Mouth, 3″ Cheeks, Roller diameter is 0.63″
- Hinged at the Center
- Satisfaction Guaranteed.
Like the Professional Equine bit above, this bit, also from Professional Equine, also has copper rollers and is made to encourage your horse to accept the bit by promoting salivation and increasing sensitivity within the mouth.
Slightly smaller, the mouth measures 4.5 inches and is made of sweet iron. The curved comfort mouthpiece allows horses to swallow freely, and is great for horses just starting out and learning the basics. The bit has stainless steel Western Dees, too, for durability.
- 4-1/2″ Mouth
- Stainless Steel/Copper
- Professional Equine Western D-Ring Comfort Snaffle
This bit from The Bob Avila Collection by Professionals Choice is one of the more expensive bits on our list, but is very durable and strong. It is a mild snaffle bit with a copper inlay mouthpiece that is designed for all disciplines and any level of horse. The copper promotes salivating and encourages your horse to take the bit, and the mouthpiece measures 5 1/4”. Because the mouthpiece is single-jointed, it is legal in the show ring, too. The rings measure 3”.
- Mouthpiece is single-jointed
- The rings measure 3”
- Durable and strong
This oval mouth bit from Korsteel is designed to provide maximum comfort and top performance, great for horses at a range of different levels. The oval link is made of copper and encourages the horse to salivate and play with the bit. The mouthpiece comes in three different sizes — 4.75”, 5” and 5.5”, and the D-rings are strong and durable.
- Designed to provide maximum comfort
- The shape also reduces the severe direct pressure
- Center piece designed to encourage salivation and acceptance of the bit.
This bit is also from Korsteel and is also an oval mouth bit. The 5” mouthpiece is made from copper that encourages salivation and acceptance of the bit and the curved shape of the mouthpiece eliminates interference and stops the bit from hitting the roof of the mouth, which allows room for the tongue. The shape also reduces the severe direct pressure on the bars of the mouth, making it more comfortable for your horse. The O-rings are hand polished stainless steel, too.
- More comfortable for your horse
- O-rings are hand polished stainless steel
- 5” mouthpiece is made from copper
Best Horse Bit FAQ’s
Does the bit hurt the horses mouth?
A bit is designed to apply pressure to the horse’s mouth without hurting them. When used correctly, your horse shouldn’t feel any pain. Some horse’s have a sensitive mouth, so it is important to use the “kindest” bit you can.
If a bit is used by someone inexperienced or used incorrectly, it can lead to unnecessary pain for your horse. If you are not sure what you are doing, always confront a specialist or professional who can show you how to use a bit properly and safely.
How do I measure for a horse bit?
You should always measure your horse for a bit to ensure you get the right size. If you get one that is too small it could pinch your horse’s mouth, but if you get one that is too big, it could rub against their teeth and cause damage.
Of course, if your horse has used a bit before, then you can use an old bit as a size guide. However, if you’re measuring them for a bit for the first time, then you can use a bit sizer. This is a plastic shank with a stopper on one end, which you put in your horse’s mouth with the stopper positioned against their cheek. You then look at the other side to get the measurement for your horse’s mouth.
If you don’t have a bit sizer, you can use a piece of string or wood, placing it in your horse’s mouth and measuring either side.
Once you have measured your horse’s bit size and it comes to buying the bit, you might not be able to find a bit that is exactly the size you need. Don’t worry — it is always better to buy a size bigger and then use bit guards (or cheek guards). These rubber guards are soft, flexible disks that fit on the end of the mouthpiece and are designed to act as stoppers to prevent the bit from pinching the horse’s mouth. They also stop the bit from being pulled through the horse’s mouth.
How do I choose the right horse bit?
Choosing the right bit comes down to a number of different factors. You’ll need to consider how experienced you are, first of all, because the bit connects you to your horse and your horse will feel any movement you make. You should also consider how sensitive your horse is, and how well your horse has been trained/how advanced they are.
One other factor to consider is your chosen discipline. The bit you choose is going to vary depending on whether you’re riding just for fun, or competing or showing your horse. At horse shows and competitions there are also a number of rules around the type and style of the bit you can use.
As you can see, there are a number of different types of bits out there, and even more types of mouthpieces. Choosing the best horse bit for your horse can seem daunting. But once you take into consideration your horse’s level and training, how sensitive they are and how advanced you are as a rider, you should be able to find the best horse bit no problem. Always ensure you double check the size of your horse’s mouth before buying, and try to use the ‘kindest’ bit you can. Which one from our list do you think you are going to go for?