If you asked 10 riders what their favorite bit is, you’ll probably get 10 different answers.
There are so many factors to consider that there really is no right or wrong, just personal opinion. This can making choosing the right bit for your horse a long and frustrating process with lots of trial and error.
There’s always the old standbys (single jointed snaffles) but it sometimes helps to think outside the (tack) box to find something that really helps your horse excel.
These are a few of my favorite “alternative” bits that I’ve had success with over the years:
German Silver French Link Loose Ring
This is my go-to bit and I’ve used it exclusively for many horses. The french link mouthpiece
lays comfortably across the tongue and is ideal for a horse with a low palate.
It’s perfect for those who tend to lean on the bit and the extra movement keeps youngsters (especially mouthy geldings) quite happy.
The German Silver encourages salivation, and I personally prefer it over stainless steel.
These bits are also reasonably priced, which is a great excuse to keep a few extras on hand!
Myler 04 English D-Ring
This bit is useful for horses in all levels of training and is my favorite of the Mylers (although I haven’t tried them all…yet).
The port allows for more tongue room, and the D-Ring is helpful for pinch-less steering.
I like this bit for starting horses in basic dressage and lateral work. It’s a tad pricey, but worth the investment.
Happy Mouth Shaped Mullen Loose Ring
If you’re re-starting a horse or dealing with the aftermath of a bad bit experience, I’d highly recommend this.
It stays quiet in the mouth and is extremely gentle. I also use this bit for lunging with side reins since there’s no distracting movement and encourages a soft mouth.
Horses love this one (they don’t call it Happy Mouth for nothing!).
Fulmer Cheek French Link
This combines features of many other popular bits and is surprisingly under utilized.
You get the rotation of the loose ring with the added steering of the full cheek, plus the mouth-friendly french link.
Like with all full cheek snaffles, always use bit keepers for safety.
What’s your favorite bit?
I've just been riding with a rope halter for the last year. It didn't take long at all to get used to! I don't think I'll ever use a bit on my mare again.
That's great! I love riding in just a halter, and you're right, most horses respond really well to it. Sometimes the best bit is no bit at all 🙂
My fav bit is the three ring elevator 🙂
Me too. It works phenomenally to enable me to stay super light yet let the horse go go go.
My mare loves her runner d-ring and the happy mouth elevator bit. Usually just ride her on the snaffle and then if I need a little bit extra I'll drop it down to the 2nd ring. I also love the d-ring French link and the d-ring with the bean in the middle
I use an egg butt snaffle.
Egg butts are a great all-round bit. I rarely see them in the show ring these days….it's a shame!
both my horses HATE bits! In fact, no matter what bit I try, they do worst. So I now ride my thoroughbred mare in a hackamore, and my QH paint cross gelding in a halter. But I used to ride a horse who prefered western bits over any english bits, so I got her the myler bit and she loved it! She prefered a halter over anything but for shows I had to ride her a bit and she was fine with it �� I also LOVE LOVE LOVE the happy mouth bit! A mare I ride does fine in a halter, but is a little spirited when it comes to Jumping and takes off way to early or late, so we started using this bit for jumping and she LOVES it! She is so soft in the mouth and she loves the apple flavor! I actually caught her licking it when I took the bridle off �� the sides are also covered in plastic so it doesn't pinch her mouth ��
Happy Mouth bits really are great! I'm glad your mare likes them too.
I am also one who loves a full cheek, my normal bit is a eggbutt snaffle with copper inlay, but I usually just hop on bareback & tie the lead rope around for reins & use the rope halter. She collects nicely even in a halter which I love. I also tie up halters & its fun to pick new fun rope colors, haha.
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Hey!! really great read thank you!Ive recently been told to think about changing the bit i use for my pony as he has a low palate. Although he does not go badly in his current eggbutt oval link, he fights/struggles to come onto the bit and can get quite strong and stubborn when asking. After looking around on the net I have come across alot of positivity regarding the happy mouth mullens and am really considering trying these out!! 🙂
When I started my OTTB I used a regular D-ring snaffle, mostly because it was what I had on hand from past horses. It worked fine, but he never showed any inclination to relax and work into the bit, so I tried one of his barn mate's oval-linked copper o-rings, and he loves it. Very first ride had him stretching into the bit more than he ever had! Now he, and both of my barn's big show jumpers ride in them. I love that these big show guys go in such a soft bit, since my past barn used such a wide variety of much harsher bits on horses doing the same, and even lower, levels. I do use a full-cheek on a pony I'm reschooling for someone. We're looking for new bits, and want to try a Happy Mouth, but we're kind of scared he'll chew through it in a week. He's a nibbler of everything and when he has a bit in his mouth is constantly chewing on it.
As a young mare, my now 28 year old mare was spooky and sometimes bucked like a bronc. She hated curb and shank bits, but wouldn't stop for a plain snaffle. So I tried a Kimberwick – that was 10 years ago – and have never used another bit on her. She comes on the bit just fine and stops like a sweetheart.
I had the same with situation with a school horse. I loved him in the kimberwick and the brakes were amazing 🙂 nice to have the curb rein option for more advanced students, too.
These days the simpler the better for me. Everything is a three piece or a French link, loose ring or full cheek. I like your list of bits…but I have to ask, what the heck is up with that picture?!?
Really, that photo of the horse is terrible! Every part of that bridle is so dam tight! And please tell me why you need that nose band on him or her?
Hi Michelle, that’s just a stock photo. I completely agree with you! I think the picture is a good example of why people need to think about the bits they choose, and why I want to share what works for me 🙂
Mine really likes the GERMAN SILVER BOUCHER BIT. I tried Regular ring sniffle. French links in copper and stainless and polymer. But she didn’t like them. The I tried the Boucher and she settled. No more fussing with the bit or avoiding contact. They say they either love it or hate it.
A tom thumb was recommended to me for my mare. Your thoughts??