Bits, Bridles, and Equine Welfare

Your horse’s head, face, and mouth comprise sensitive nerves, bone, and soft tissue. While many of us focus on saddle fit, bridles and bits often get overlooked as a cause of discomfort. Bits can cause mouth pain and injury, and research shows many nosebands are adjusted too tight to the point of cruelty. Is your horse wearing the right bit and bridle?
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Bits, Bridles, and Equine Welfare
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Your horse’s head, face, and mouth comprise sensitive nerves, bone, and soft tissue. While many of us focus on saddle fit, bridles and bits often get overlooked as a cause of discomfort. Bits can cause mouth pain and injury, and research shows many nosebands are adjusted too tight to the point of cruelty. Is your horse wearing the right bit and bridle?

About the Experts:

Hilary Clayton

Dr. Hilary ClaytonHilary M. Clayton, BVMS, PhD, Dipl. ACVSMR, FRCVS, is a veterinarian, researcher and horsewoman. For more than 40 years she has performed innovative research in the areas of locomotor biomechanics, lameness, rehabilitation, conditioning programs for equine athletes, and the interaction between rider, tack, and horse. She has published seven books and more than 200 scientific articles on these topics. Clayton served as the Mary Anne McPhail Dressage Chair in Equine Sports Medicine at Michigan State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine from 1997 until she retired from academia in 2014. She continues to perform collaborative research with colleagues in universities around the world. Clayton is a charter diplomate and past president of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. She is an Honorary Fellow of the International Society for Equitation Science and has been inducted into the International Equine Veterinarians Hall of Fame, the Midwest Dressage Association Hall of Fame, and the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame. She is a lifelong rider and has competed in many equestrian sports, most recently focusing on dressage in which she trains through the Grand Prix level and has earned U.S. Dressage Federation bronze, silver, and gold medals.

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Written by:

Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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