We asked trainers in the industry about their favorite bit. What's yours? Let us know. Photo © Laurel Walker Denton

We Ask Trainers: What is Your Favorite Bit?

Any professional athlete will tell you they have a favorite piece of equipment. For instance, Tiger Woods has a favorite putter; it even has a name “The Scotty.” Jack Nicklaus had “White Fang” and Bobby Jones “Calamity Jane.” When you have a piece of equipment that has a human-like name, you know it’s special.

The question we asked, “What is your favorite bit?” was answered by most trainers so quickly we had to laugh. Horse trainers have the same kind of love for bits.

Sometimes it’s not just one favorite bit but a favorite one for a particular situation, but for most of the trainers, it was easy to pick only one. Find out their go-to bits below.

Tommy Sheets
“Baby A”
Made By Frank Principe

This is a perfect bit for most broke horses. I have many bits from this maker, but this one is by far my favorite.  I will not leave home without it under any circumstances.


Missy Thyfault
“Slow Twist Full Cheek”
Made By Mahue

I had a hard time picking a favorite bit because I have a choice western bit, favorite equitation bit, favorite snaffle and so on. This is my favorite hunter under saddle bit. It’s a Mahieu Full Cheek slow twist. I have it in a smaller version for those that are heavier and in a D ring as well which says how much I love it. There is a fine line between laying on the bit and pulling on it, and I find this bit helps me find that balance. I love seeing other trainers bit collections, and I am looking forward reading this article.

Jamie Morrow and Jason English
“Twisted D-Ring Snaffle”
“Low Port”

Here are our two go-to bits for 75% of the horses. The ported bit is a great transitional bit for the young horses, and it is also great for the older horses. It has such a great balance and feel to it. The snaffle is a great in-between bit, like not too harsh and not too soft. It also has a great feel and weight to it.

Maggie Grandquist
“Square Port”
Made By Tom Balding

You can ride about every horse in it, and it helps get them get soft in their chin.

 

 

 

 

 

Beth Case
“Snaffle”

Snaffle because that’s what I ride and show everything in, either a rubber, smooth, slow twist, or regular twist. I’m not one of those people who thinks bits make a difference, if they are soft use a rubber, if they pull, use a twist. I also don’t like loose ring snaffles because I feel like those pinch their mouth sometimes.

Garth Gooding
“Medium Port”
Made By Clapper

This bit is substantial and very agreeable to most every horse. It’s a funny joke around the barn about how I will not go to a horse show without it –  even if I am not riding a horse in it that’s going to the show.

 

 

 

 

Brian Cox
“Small A”
Made By Maheu

I like this bit because it has a lot of balance and a reaction time. It’s weighted, but enough so that it is very forgiving in the show pen.

 

 




Justin Wheeler
“The S Shank”
Made By Unknown

This is my favorite bit because the S shank is a good medium size. I like that it has some leverage, but it’s not too severe. It lets the all-around horses pack it well and keeps the pleasure horses responsive but not scared.




Nancy Sue Ryan

“D Ring Snaffle”
Made in England

First of all, my favorite hunter under saddle bit is one that fits the horse’s mouth. I am a firm believer that we as trainers/exhibitors do not have proper fitting bits. Secondly, I have always said I can lighten up a horse’s mouth with an egg butt snaffle easier than a twisted wire. If you pull on a guitar string with one hand and a rubber hose with your other hand, which one would become softer? Most people believe the string. I disagree, I am not going to pull for long on the guitar string, but I will pull on the hose.

My belief a horse will set its head off the wire bit thus being behind in bridle/bit. The fat bit will teach the horse to respond to pressure and not hide behind the bit. Therefore, my favorite bit is a snaffle that fits. I like to school in a slip ring snaffle as I feel as this bit tells the horse you are coming in contact with their mouth. My bit of choice to show with is a D-Ring as they look nice and seem to be more traditional. My favorite bit is one I purchased in England. A big fat smooth D-Ring. I show the majority of horses with this bit. Bottom line, you have to show in the bit which is best for both the horse and rider.

Julie Voge and Becky George
Chuck Letchworth bits

Anything that Chuck Letchworth makes. They ride good on almost any horse and have a great feel.

 

 

 

 

Laurel Walker Denton
“Spoon Spade”
Made by Barry Denton

I am the luckiest trainer in the world because my husband, Barry Denton makes most of my “bridle” bits I use in cowhorse. A few years ago, we had a horse named Little Black Shiner. He was six when we got him and had been shown heavily. For many years he was near the top of the list of NRHA and NRCHA money earners. He tended to be a problem in the show ring, wanting to take off, either on a run down or after a cow. Barry made him a short, spoon spade with loose jaws. It also had lots of movement in the mouthpiece. It cured the open mouth problem as “Shiner” would hold the bit in his mouth while giving me tons of control. I still use it today on different horses. It has a very soft feel and makes me look good.

Darla Lee
“The Magic Bit”
Made by Pessoa

When I had to think about my favorite bit, it was very hard. The one I chose is not one that I ride in very often but is one I will never part with. Pessoa makes it, and I love it because if I have a horse over bridled, this bit will fix the problem. I call it “The Magic Bit.” I love the weight of it and the large diameter. It is incredibly soft on the corners of their mouth. It’s certainly not for every horse, but for the right horse, it’s like gold.

 

Carli Pitts
“Loomis Shank Curb”
Greg Darnall

My favorite bit is a medium port Loomis shank curb. It’s a very square bit and has just enough give in the shank to avoid an over bridled look. We call it the “Vic bit” around the barn. Vic “No Good Deed” was a special horse to me, and it was his favorite. Now, I find myself using it throughout the day on multiple horses.

 

 

What is your favorite bit? Let us know.


About the Author – Darla Lee was born in Apple Valley, California where she began riding horses at the age of nine. She later moved to Ohio where she attended College at the University of Findlay. She has worked for many top trainers in the industry and the past fifteen years operates Lee Quarter Horses located in Plain City, Ohio with her husband Brian where they specialize in Western Pleasure, Hunter Under Saddle and All-Around Events on the AQHA and NSBA circuits.

 

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