Choosing a bit for a horse that is ridden with a Western saddle is often dependent upon the horse’s purpose, the size and shape of its mouth, its training and history. If the horse has not been harshly treated and its mouth is still tender, the mildest bit should be used. It is also advisable to consider the horse’s mouth’s size and shape when choosing the right bit. Other factors that should be taken into account are the horse’s training, how it has been previously ridden, the purpose for which the horse will be ridden and its level of skill.
Here are some bits that are popular among Western horseback riders:
Western Grazing Bit
Quite popular, this bit suits many horses as it is easy for them to take and it allows them to graze. Shanks can be decorative and the bit may come with tongue release or a port for even more comfort.
Tom Thumb Bit
Sometimes called a snaffle bit since it has a jointed mouthpiece, this bit works with a simple pull to the right or left for turning the horse.
Western S-Shank Curb Bit
The S shape on the shanks of this bit contribute to the weight, balance and leverage that the rider has when pulling back on the reins. Thus, this bit is more severe than a regular curb bit.
Because it provides more leverage, the Kimberwick bit works for young riders who might have trouble controlling their ponies with a snaffle bit.
Western Correction Bit
This bit is for horses who do not obey the subtle commands of the reins. It is a western-style bit with a thin mouthpiece and copper wire wraps that has a high port. Some correction bits have straighter or narrower shanks instead of the usual “butterfly”-shaped shanks.
Quarter Moon D-ring Snaffle Bit
Often used in the Western show ring and on young horses, the Moon D-ring Snaffle Bit is not unlike other snaffle bits, and it makes an attractive choice.
Western Pelham Bit
While this bit is not seen in competitions, it is used in training horses. It combines the action of a snaffle bit and a curb strap or chain, using two sets of reins with large D-shaped rings.