How to Measure a Bit For Your Horse
 By Winniefield Park   •   13th Apr 2016   •   1,216 views   •   0 comments

In order to be effective, your horseís bit needs to fit properly. A too large bit will slide back and forth in your horseís mouth, and certain parts might not sit where they need to. Too small, and the bit may pinch the sides of your horseís lips, and again, not sit in its mouth properly. An improperly fitting bit can result in an uncomfortable horse and muddled rein aids. In the show ring, a horse fussing with its bit will catch the judgeís eye in a negative way. And a fussing horse can take the pleasure out of pleasure riding.

A poorly fitting bit isnít the only reason your horse will fuss with a bit, but itís a place to start. Or, maybe you have a new horse and need all new gear. Itís hard to eye up what size you need, and itís easy to be dazzled when youíre standing in front of a wall full at the tack shop with every imaginable shape, size and promise available.

Now of course, the easiest way to buy a proper fitting new bit is to know the size of a proper fitting old bit. Lay the bit down on a flat surface. Use a flexible tape measure, such as a sewing tape measure to find the distance from the inside of the mouthpiece from ring or cheekpiece to the other. Now, write this down and make sure you have it with you when you shop.

But, maybe you donít have a properly fitting bit at all. In this case, there are a few things you can do. For complete DIY measuring youíll need one of three things, and a tape measure and marker.

Flexible Tape Measure
If you have a flexible cloth or plastic tape measure, such as the one youíve borrowed from your motherís sewing box, put this through your horseís mouth where the bit would sit. Hold it fairly taut. Since you probably wonít be able to grasp the end, start your measurement a bit further up and then do some math. Wipe the tape measure down and put it back in the sewing box.

Use a piece of doweling. Put it through your horseís mouth. Mark the wood on each side of the horseís lips, remove and measure.

Use a piece of string. Tie a knot a few inches in, and put the string through the horseís mouth, with the knot on the side of the lips. Mark the string with a marker. Remove and measure from the inside of the knot to your marking.

You can use calipers if you happen to have these around. If someone you know does wood or metal work, you might be able to borrow them. Or you could download calipers to cut out of cardboard.

There are also tools made specifically for measuring a horseís mouth. They are not very expensive and might be worth it if you do a lot of fitting.

Whatever method you use, you need to try the bit in your horseís mouth and make sure that it doesnít pinch, or slop around. Your horse should be comfortable, and hold the bit quietly. Hang onto the store slip and any tags or packaging, just in case you have to trade up or down a size.
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