Anyone who knows me (or even follows me online) knows I’m a total bit nerd. My big dream someday is to have a lab set up where I can x-ray and pressure test different bits under different conditions. I have spent countless hours trying different bits on my horses to see how they lay in the mouth, both at rest and under pressure (many rotate in the mouth when under rein pressure… an interesting variable when considering how they work on the different parts of the mouth!), and how horses respond to one compared to another. There are very few independent, academic studies out there on bits and how they work, and I hope this will be improved in the future so we can make more educated decisions.
Based on the studying I’ve done, and on how my horses (my own and those of clients, a really relatively small test group when it comes to the variety of horses out there, so take this with that in mind) respond in various bits, I have a few “go to” bits for different types of horses/evasions and stages of training, but the one that gets used the most frequently or could be considered very “general purpose” is the Myler French Link, and although I have it in both the loose ring and egg butt cheeks, it’s the loose ring that I use most.
There are a few reasons I like this bit. For one, it’s thin and light weight. I know thin can be a double-edged sword, but let’s face it, what we want and is ultimately kindest to our horses is lighter contact, not something that encourages them to lean and pull on it, tempting the rider into pulling back or yanking. There also really isn’t much room in the horse’s mouth, and many horses won’t comfortably fit a big thick bit. (As usual, I’m saying “many” not “all”, of course there are some horses with much room and that prefer a thicker bit, or riders with bouncy enough hands that a thick bit is the only kind option, etc. I cannot obviously write a short post that goes into every variable of what will work for every horse… if you want advice on your particular horse, feel free to send me a message!)
The curve seems to fit nicely in the horse’s mouth, leaving room for the tongue to sit comfortably under the bit, the light weight, movable quality of the bit encourages the horse to play with it and carry it in a way that he finds most comfortable in his mouth. My horses tend to get very pleasant foamy lipstick with this bit, even the horses that tend to have dry mouths. I feel like it’s because they go on a more comfortable, correct contact in it, rather than because it has the copper inserts, but that may help too. I do get better contact and foam (which is an indication of correct work, not a goal in itself – making fake foam with sugar cubes defeats the purpose of using wet lips as an indication of how the horse is working!) in this bit than in a different bit made of copper, so I don’t think it’s just the copper that makes the foam, but rather the way the horse carries and softly chews with this bit.
I also like the loose rings on this bit compared to others I have. The way the ring attaches to the mouth piece allows both pieces to move freely very easily, and makes it harder for the horse’s lips to get pinched by the rings. The “looseness” of the rings on this bit also make it very hard for the horse to lean or brace against the rein because the rings slide, making it easier for the rider to focus on getting the horse working correctly from behind without encountering as much resistance or evasion from the front end.
Over all, this is a bit that seems to fit in the horse’s mouth comfortably, encouraging the horse to take a light but steady contact and correctly use his tongue and jaw to produce the tell-tale foamy mouth as well as the accompanying softness in the poll that allows the rider to engage the haunches for a round topline and correct connection. An added bonus is that this bit can be purchased for about half of what other “high-end” brand bits cost.
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