Monday 14th of June 2021

Are Thicker Bits Milder than Thin Bits?

We are delighted to be joined by the bitting experts from Neue Schule for our new series on bitting advice. In this first instalment, Lucy Walton guides us through the differences between thick and thin bits and the effect they have.


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You’d sooner press the flat side of a knife on your hand than the sharp edge, right?

Sure you would! The flat side has a greater weight-bearing surface than the edge, so it will cause you a lot less pain to press that on your hand than to push the sharp edge down.

With this in mind, you’d be forgiven for assuming that a thicker bit will always be a milder option for your horse as the greater weight bearing surface of a thick bit in comparison to a thinner bit should provide more comfort for the horse as you apply pressure through your reins.

But is thicker always kinder?

The inner specs of the equine mouth need to be taken into consideration, and a horse’s tongue fills the whole of the oral cavity when the mouth is closed. Fortunately, the tongue is a flexible muscle so when we put a bit in the mouth we compress the tongue slightly, creating space by drawing it away from the hard, bony structure that creates the upper palate and encouraging the horse to relax the tongue down onto the floor of the mouth.

While we have established that a large weight bearing surface is going to be milder in relation to the forces we put on the tongue through the reins, we need to consider the other effects that a thick bit might have on the mouth. If the bit is too thick, the horse may struggle to close their mouth around the bit comfortably, without causing damage to the unforgiving upper palate.

If the bit is causing pressure between the sensitive bars of the mouth, or on the upper palate the horse is likely to open their mouth to avoid the discomfort, and what happens then? We strap the mouth shut with a flash noseband! So the pressure has increased further and it’s now unavoidable.

The tongue fills the mouth, bulging beyond the bars leaving very little room for anything else.

The tongue fills the mouth, bulging beyond the bars leaving very little room for anything else. Credit: Mark Thorne Equine Dentist

Front full res

Neue Schule Turtle Tactio with Flex - 7011-70-TTO

The Turtle Tactio™ takes up very little room in the mouth but maintains a good weight-bearing surface.

In cases like this, where the horse perhaps has a particularly small mouth combined with a large tongue, it may be milder to use a slimmer mouthpiece.

The ideal however would be to keep the benefit of a large weight-bearing surface that the thicker bit offers but with less bulk between the bars and against the upper palate.

At Neue Schule we’ve carried out extensive research into equine mouth anatomy and the forces applied to the mouth and produced a bit that addresses the issue of a small mouth and large tongue which is experienced by so many horses.

The new Turtle Tactio™ is designed to refocus rein pressure to the central part of the tongue where it is at its thickest whilst diverting pressure away from the sensitive regions near the bars. The unique central ‘Turtle’ link is built to the shape of the upper palate and brings the cannons closer together than ever before in order to take up less space.

The mouthpiece is cleverly engineered to ensure that the bit remains in the desired position. The cannons have a reduced depth to in turn, reduce the pressure between the bars whilst maintaining a good weight-bearing surface which lies flat and comfortably against the tongue even under rein tension.

The comfort provided by the design may eliminate the need to close the mouth but with whatever noseband you may use; there is space to comfortably accommodate this mouthpiece – making it a much more humane way to go about it.  

Lucy Walton, Product Specialist



To learn more about mouth anatomy join The Academy

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