Icelandic Horse Connection

Bits and Bitting

The Icelandic Horse is usually ridden in a snaffle bit. Some of the horses have very low palates and a double jointed snaffle may fit them better. Rope halter, Lindells, and Hackamores are also alternatives.

Halter with rings

Halter with bit

Hilmir and Myler Hackamore

Book by the Myler Brothers:
Dale, Ron, and Bob

Here are some photos of different bits:

Myler Mullen Mouth
It's a bit difficult to see that it's a mullen in Myler's brochure.
The angle of the photo makes it look straight.

Myler Snaffle
A Myler double jointed snaffle with lifted roller.

Myler D-ring Snaffle
Myler D-ring double-jointed snaffle with centered copper roller.

Bend of the Mouthpiece
Myler Curb and a Sleister Curb

Notice the bend in the mouthpiece of the Myler bits.

Several different bits.
From the top: Copper mullen mouth eggbutt, Copper D-ring snaffle, D-ring snaffle, Happy Mouth, Kimberwicke, Myler double jointed O-ring snaffle, Myler curb.

Width of the Bit

Ordinary single jointed snaffles should be fitted to allow approximately one quarter inch clearance between the bit ring and the horse's lips. Fitting too closely to the lips can result in pinching, but a snaffle bit that is too wide (a more common occurance) will slide across the horse's mouth from one side to the other and can easily result in bruising of the bars, tongue and/or lips.

Double jointed bits, such as the KK Training BitT are fitted more closely to the actual physical width of the horse's mouth. The extra joint causes the bit to dangle in the horse's mouth and the rings will hang very close to the lips - regardless of the width of the bit. Thus it is necessary to fit the bit very closely and it will be held straight across the mouth. Modern bit rings very seldom cause any pinching problems although horses with thick, fleshy lips my be rubbed by a loosering bit adjusted in this way. These horses are better fitted with an eggbutt style double jointed bit.

Shape of the Bit

A bit with a curve to both halves of the mouthpiece conforms better to the shape of the horse's lower jaw than a straight mouthpiece. It is also less likely to allow the joint, in the case of an ordinary single jointed snaffle, to push up into the horse's palate - a very uncomfortable situation, as you can imagine!

Wonder Bit

A wonder bit is a modified gag -- as such it has very limited application in good horsemanship or riding. With this bit, any pressure on the reins causes the mouthpiece to rise in the mouth, pulling on the corners of the lips --a very sensitive area-- and the poll, as well as putting pressure on the jaw from the curb chain. The only really legitimate use of such a contraption is to raise the head of a horse that tends to get behind the bit -- and then only to be used for a short time until the horse learns other habits and can be put in a bit that actually has some useful training function.

The illegitimate uses are myriad, however -- including creating head nod on a horse that has none.

This bit does nothing for teaching self carriage, nothing for teaching lateral flexion, nothing for teaching the horse to work through his body, and nothing for teaching the basic " calm, obedient, forward, straight, supple and light" which are the goals of good horsemanship everywhere.

So, I don't like them ... I am also not fond of watching horses suffer through being forced to back up in one. For some unknown reason this thing has become the "bit du jour" in some circles, replacing the loose jawed curb, which itself replaced the fixed S shank curb. Fads change, good horsemanship doesn't.

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