Bits: Pain in the Mouth

The bit is a tool of communication, not of punishment. That, says Dwight Bennett, DVM, PhD, professor emeritus at Colorado State University, is the most important thing any horse owner can understand about bits. If a bit is causing pain or discomfort, communication breaks down and your horse’s performance, as well as his mouth, suffers.

“Fifty percent of a rider’s communication with the horse is done through the bit and reins,” says Alixe Etherington of John Dewsbury Bits in Tweedale, England. For clear communication to take place between a horse and rider, the bit must sit correctly and comfortably in the horse’s mouth, and a pair of soft, understanding hands must hold the reins.<

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