Icelandic Horse Connection

Bit Definitions

Bits for Icelandic Horses can be a simple or a complex subject. If you understand the anatomy of the horse's mouth, particularly the low palate of the Icelandic Horse / Pony, it may be less complex. If you understand the mechanics of bits, it will be much simpler.

We are here to educate Icelandic Horse owners about tack used on their Icelandic Ponies, so that riders, owners, and horses are happier.

By Brandon Carpenter

Just a bit about bits...

Often there is much confusion about what a snaffle or curb bit is.

A snaffle bit and a curb bit are not defined by the mouthpiece they have. They are defined by how the pressure on the mouthpiece is applied.

A snaffle bit is one that operates off of direct pressure. It does not have leverage of any kind. This bit can have a variety of mouthpieces (ports) ie. broken, twisted, solid or a mixed variety thereof.

When you put any of the mouthpieces together with leverage it then becomes a curb bit. The shanks and or purchase on the bit will define the mouthpiece as curb. Also most curb bits are used with a curb strap for additional leverage.

Look at the design; will it create poll pressure or leverage pressure in the mouth or both?

A Tom Thumb is a curb bit because of the shanks. Take the shanks off and put a D ring on and it becomes a snaffle.

Some bits such as the Wonder bit can do either. When reins are hooked into the ring, it is a snaffle bit (direct pressure). When reins are hooked into the small shanks it then becomes a gag bit that works on leverage.

I do not care for a simple broken ring snaffle for most folks because of the reasons Elva gave. Elva you are exactly right with the action of the port. Nutcrackering and breaking to apply pressure to the bars and palate can cause behavioral problems let alone physical damage in the wrong hands. The horses mouth should be the first consideration in choosing what to hang on its head.

With that said, in the right hands any bit including a spade bit can be used effectively without the horse reacting to the bit. At this point it is a tool of horsemanship on the part of the handler. It is not a device for communication. It simply shows how soft hands the rider has. It defines the skill level and is not about the horse in that instant.

The majority of people do not have the skill to use such bits.

I just thought some definitions should be brought up for any new folks on the list.

Brandon Carpenter

Editorial comment: Icelandic Bits are quite severe; the dicotomy being that they should only be used by knowledgeable horsemen.... but knowledgeable horsemen have no need for an icelandic bit!
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