Find a bit to make them tick - Bit materials.
At Little Glengyre we do a lot of work with a variety of horses all at different stages in their education, from untouched 3 year olds to school masters, and my experience has taught me that bit material matters!
Bits come in a large range of shapes and sizes designed to act on your horses pressure points in different ways - we will look at bit styles in a later blog. Today I want to discuss bit material.
Different materials give the horse different tastes, textures and experiences. Its our job to find out what our horse likes best. So whats on offer?
Steel - cheap and durable material. This is a basic material and many horses are content with this material in their mouths. My tack room, like a lot of others is filled with a massive collection in all shapes and size steel bits.
It can be quite a cold metal and some horses, especially youngsters we are bitting, find it hard to accept at first. To help with acceptance I am a huge fan of bit butter! It is very easy to use and a lot cheaper than spending £100+ on the same bit in a different material.
Sweet iron - The sweet iron produces a layer of rust when being used, this tastes very nice for the horse and is great for helping to encourage acceptance of the bit. Slightly more expensive than steel but a durable material that is beneficial to horses that can be a little more 'fussy'.
Copper - This material is very good for encouraging salivation and thus bit acceptance, however can change shape and develop sharp edges when worn or chewed. It is most effective when used in combination with other metals such as sweet iron. It works well as a lozenge material in bits.
Rubber - Rubber bits are made of a steel wire that is covered in rubber. I personally find these bulky and not very durable. their benefits include being more flexible that a metal bit and thus easier for some horses to accept and they are also more soothing that cold metal such as steel. I have seen many of these bits chewed through in a matter of minutes so it is important to monitor the horse when introducing a rubber bit as when chewed the chunks of rubber can become a choke hazard.