Thick snaffle, advantages and disadvantages.

Often is said that a thick bit is softer than a thin bit. But when a thick bit is used, it can also cause more resistance from your horse. Not every horse is the same. Some horses do not have much space in their mouth when the jaws are shut. The bit lays on top of the layers, which is the tooth-less part in the horse's mouth. On average, the space between the layers is 1.6 cm when the mouth is shut. If this space is smaller and a thick bit is used, the horse can’t get its jaws together. Often riders use a flash strap to prevent the horse opens his mouth. Or they use a drawstring noseband to close the mouth. It is impossible for a horse to relax his jaws when they are tied up by a noseband and the mouthpiece which is too thick for the horse. It will give too much pressure on the layers in the mouth, and that will hurt the horse and almost any horse will give a lot of resistance.

 What we can give you for advice is get a good look at the anatomy of the horse, sometimes a thinner, softer bit better solution than a thick, hard bit.

How to determine the right size of the bit.

To begin with, there are horses with a wide jaw and horses with a narrow jaw. The right choice for the right bit depends on the shape of the horse’s mouth. A horse with a wide lower jaw will be able to put his tongue between his teeth, a horse with a narrow jaw can’t put his tongue between his teeth and often his tongue is higher in his mouth on top of the teeth. A horse with a narrow jaw will therefore sooner have a problem with a bit and is faster bothered by the tongue that is pinched. Because the tongue is higher in the mouth, the bit will sooner press against the palate and give pain.

How do you know if your horse has a wide or narrow jaw? This can be measured or checked by placing one or two fingers between the two bones of jaw at the place where normally the bit is placed, there are no teeth and that place is called, the layers.

By horses with a wide jaw fit two fingers in between a horse and a narrow jaw just one finger.

It is also important to know if the horse has a thick or thin tongue. This can be seen by the lips on the side of the mouth. Take the lips apart at the place where the bit normally is and look into the mouth between the layers.


The layers in the mouth of the horse are not equally sensitive to each horse. Some horses are very sensitive, others less.  You can also test how sensitive your horse is by pushing with your finger on the layers in the mouth. You quickly find out if your horse is sensitive or not. You can also see how far you can push the tongue down. Then you know if the tongue is thick or thin. When the horse response quickly while you’re pressing the layers, it means it gives a pain reaction, so the horse is sensitive. When the horse does not give much reaction, the horse is not sensitive.

 The age of the horse is also something that is important when considering bits. For example, If you have a young horse with a narrow jaw and that is sensitive to the layers and the tongue, you would not have fun with a horse bit that has a lot of freedom with the tongue. A horse at the age of three or four years is actually very sensitive to the layers and a bit with a lot of tongue freedom gives more pressure on the layers. At a bit that distributes the pressure over the entire mouthpiece will be better for such a horse. In this case, this is an unbroken bit with a bend forward or a bit that is broken with a double bend forward.

 Sometimes certain degree of training makes the choice of the bit, but also the experience and way of riding of the rider is very important. If you have a quiet hand and you can give subtle aids you can use a bit that divides the pressure a little less across the entire mouth. If you have not such a quiet hand and delicate hand, it would be better to choose a bit that gets the pressure across the entire mouthpiece.

 Remember that a horse needs time to get used to a new bit, which is not done in just 10 minutes. Sometimes a horse does not respond immediately nice to a new bit, this can still change after a few times. Conversely, a horse is very nice with a new bit, but after a few days he isn’t anymore. Then this bit is not the appropriate bit for your horse. Give your horse time to get used to it. Be aware that a horse should be ridden with a new bit before at least 8 days before you can determine if this is bit is the correct bit for your horse or not. But if your horse shows heavy resistance right away the first time you ride it with a new bit, then you’d better change it, because it’s clearly is not the right choice of bit.

 The choice of material of a bit is also important.

 A bit can be made of various materials.

Most common material sort is Stainless steel. Also called Inox.

stainless steel


Description rubber/plastic bit:


A rubber bit can be flexible, but also can contain a hard core. The flexible rubber bit has a steel wire running through is, so the bit can not break. The flexible bit is softer. Black rubber has the disadvantage that if a horse has a drier mouth, the bit gets hot by friction and then can burn on the tongue. When a horse produces enough saliva, a rubber bit is the softer variant of a metal bit. The plastic variant (Beris, Happy Mouth) is smoother and doesn’t have this problem.



Description leather bit:


For horses that are sensitive to the layers or have an injury in the mouth leather bits are frequently used. This is soft. Leather has the characteristic that it is softer when wet by saliva in the mouth. 


There will be a leather cloth stitched around an existing bit.



Nickle, Aurigan and Cyperium:


A bit made of nickle is a bit that is composed of 60% copper and 40% stainless steel. Aurigan is made of 80% copper and 20% stainless steel. Cyperium is 90% copper and 10% stainless steel.


An alloy of copper and stainless steel gives a sweet taste in the mouth of the horse. The saliva production is stimulated by the taste and the horse accepts the bit easier. The larger the proportion of copper, the more flavor and softer the bit.



Blue steel (sweet iron):


Blue steel bits are made of a mixture of materials, also called an alloy. This gives a sweet taste. The mouthpiece of these bits have a blue or black color. If the bit is used the blue or black layer gets oxidized and then becomes orange/brown, the color of rust. This rust gives a sweet taste. A sweet taste stimulates the salivation production and acceptance of the bit.

blue steel




Copper mouthpieces heat up faster to the temperature of the horse than steel bits, but copper bits are worn out earlier. Copper is a material that is too soft on it’s own to be used to make a bit. There is often a different substance that is added to the copper so the bit will be much harder and lasts longer. The copper is the main substance of the bit or it will be molded together with the other materials. Copper bits stimulates the saliva production.





A horse that has an injury in it’s mouth or is very sensitive in the mouth, can be ridden with at foam bit. The core of the bit is often a nylon strap, there is a thick layer of soft foam molded around the core.

(We can't give any guarantee on this bit, that's why we don't sell this bit at our site. Horses easy break this bits by biting on it. Interrested? Send us a mail)