Bitting the Standardbred

Bitting the Standardbred

Just got yourself a Standardbred and wondering where to start? 
Or have you had one for a while but just aren't sure if they are comfortable with their current bit?

Rein use from a cart and a rider are at on different angles, and harness bits aren't typically what we would call 'kind' this can lead to communication errors between horse and rider when the right bit isn't selected.

Some of the most common issues I see as both a standardbred enthusiast and bit fitter are tongue over the bit and horses dropping below the contact or hollowing above it or occasionally just running through the hand. 

Once you have eliminated all of the obvious issues - Saddle fit, body pain, dental etc you can look at your bitting options. This is important because for many horses issues elsewhere often present themselves in the mouth disguised as bitting or contact issues.

Standardbreds generically speaking have fairly simple mouths often with larger tongues. Ring style comes down to the individual horse and rider, a horse that prefers more stability or may have an unsteady rider will typically prefer a fixed ring (eggbutt) style bit, where as a loose ring offers more movement and the rein aid can be less direct, a horse that is prone to leaning can often be better in a loose ring than a fixed. A horse that is extra sensitive is often a good candidate for a Baucher or hanging snaffle. 

The thickness of your bit is also of importance, generically speaking most horses prefer a thinner snaffle and I always recommend a 14mm where possible. You really don't want anything thicker than 16mm at the most, thick bits affect the horses ability to swallow and even breathe in some cases. 

The top 5 most common bits I have fitted to standardbreds are; 

  • Bomber Ultra Comfy Lock Up - The ultra comfy curves nicely over the tongue and bars while the lock up prevents a nut cracker action and offers a little more stability.
  • Neue Schule Turtle Top - This one is great for horses that are prone to tongue evasions but don't have room or enjoy a ported bit. 
  • Bomber Happy Tongue - For the horses with fleshy bars and fat tongues that don't want a tongue based bit action. 
  • Fager Marcus Baby Fulmer - Ideal for horses who need a little extra help with steering or are starting their ridden careers. 
  • Fager Nils - A stable bit for horses with a sensitive mouth, the barrel offering independent signals from the rein. 

(**Disclaimer - not every bit will suit every horse, these are simply my opinions on the matter and what I find works well more often than not!) 

If you are having trouble with your bit, contact your local bit fitter - they will be happy to help! 

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