Horse bit fitting consultation

Bridle and bit fit, especially the headpiece fit and horses' comfort are issues that I've known about for ages and despite trying to my very best, a while ago I decided that I needed professional help with both Melisse and Vallu's bridles and bits. Whilst both seem comfortable in their bridles, I've not been entirely convinced that I have got the best possible bits which is why I decided to go for a Horse Bit Fit consultation - my local bit fitter is the lovely Lyn Beattie. Even though I consider myself and my family as experienced horse owners, I've spent hours trying to learn as much as possible about all the different types of bits and I've spent much money on purchasing many different bits, Lyn's advice was invaluable. She spent ages with us and advised which bits to try and explained how both of my horses needed slightly different settings in their bridles and in the end found the right bits for both! 🙌🏻
So each horse had a 1.5 hour consultation with Lyn. Both were looked at in the stable with the bridle on as well as when being ridden. The weather was NOT on our side - although we didn't get soaked through down to our skin, it was SO windy that neither of the horses were able to relax fully (I mean who would in the middle of a storm?!) which meant that it was a bit more difficult for Lyn to judge what the horses thought about the bits. I loved when Lyn went over both of the bridles, it felt like a lesson in bridle fitting which is exactly what I wanted, I needed for someone to point out what needed to be better, what was good, how each horse's mouth confirmation meant that they suit different bits, what to look for in a bridle, what to avoid, how to make a bridle fit a horse better, where exactly the bit should fit in their mouth etc. It was like having a tutor there for 3 hours explaining everything to you!

We started off with Vallu as he's the one who is more difficult to fit as he's got a big head with big cheeks #hamster 🐹 but a small mouth! Although there are no issues with his poll, TMJ or hyoid, his genioglossus muscle (muscle that protracts the tongue) is low and large which explains why he's so sensitive to bits. Considering how big a horse he is, it's surprising just how small his mouth is and how little space there is for a bit! He has a low palate with sharper than normal bars so there is less flesh on top to cover them in comparison to most horses, and he also has quite a large tongue. All of this explains why I've gone through so many different bits with him without ever finding that perfect bit for him.
When assessing his own bridle Lyn noted that although it is a nice simple bridle with no flash, the head piece is too small for him, meaning that there is not enough space behind his ears. As horses are flight animals they need to have full use of their ears to be able to check their environment and feel safe, so if the headpiece is too small it pinches and means that the horse isn't able to have full use of their ears. And as this brand that made Vallu's bridle doesn't make an extra full size head piece, hiya new bridle for Vallu! 💸 And the bit? Well in the end on our fourth attempt, the bit that made the biggest difference was the Orbit Lip Relief single jointed bit. It has all the benefits of a loose ring action, without the risk of the lips being pinched at the junction between the mouthpiece and rings and for some reason Vallu loved the single joint! He stopped playing with the bit and chewing it like with his current one and he felt really chilled out. The biggest problem I have with Vallu is that he sometimes feels 'empty' in the contact, but I am over the moon with how good he felt with this bit - I would have never even tried a single joint bit so having Lyn come do a consultation was totally worth it.

We then moved onto Melisse. Although she seems happier than Vallu in her bit, I haven't been satisfied that it's the best one for her. Like Vallu she too has a small mouth, but then everything about her is very narrow - she has a petite narrow face, narrow palate with sharp bars (no flesh on top to cover them unlike most horses) with a very large fleshy tongue which means that there is ridiculously little amount of room in her mouth for a bit! As she is so petite she's always had cob sized bridles, but in face she is in between a cob and a full - so she needs a full headpiece, browband and cheek pieces but cob sized noseband. Because her current headpiece is slightly too small, there's not enough space behind her ears and it's causing pressure there, and then with the browband being too small then it just further aggravates the issues. I just need to replace the browband (I've already swapped it to a spare one) and find a bigger head piece for her and then we're good to go with her bridle!
Melisse was incredibly happy with a HP Hanging Cheek bit that has a barrel in the middle. The hanging actions holds the bit more steadily in the mouth than a normal snaffle meaning it's more stable across the tongue and she clearly prefers this! The shape of this bit gives more room for even a thick tongue, and not surprisingly this bit is "recommended extensively by Horse Bit Fit for hard to fit horses". It's a very thin and light bit, which is perfect for small mouth with a big tongue and the difference in Melisse was incredible - just so accepting and calm in her contact. 😍 I honestly didn't expect such a big change in her as well, which is why I put an order in straight away for these bits! Once they've arrived I'm also going to get smaller bradoon ones for their double bridles too.

These bits can be purchased from Horsemanship Saddlery UK. They also have HS Anatomical bridles which I must admit looked and felt really nice which are worth having a look at if you're on the hunt for a new bridle. Horse Bit Fit consultants also recommend looking at Neue Schule and Bomber bits, but if you want to be certain what to go for, I'd book in for a consultation with Horse Bit Fit!

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