Monday, October 13, 2014

Tack Changes – Moving to a Myler bit

Copper used to have a really simple set up gear-wise, but recently I have made a few rather expensive purchases to change his tack arrangement.


Myler-Bit - Myler bit upgrade -


While I do feel a little silly about this, I think this is a good thing, and I’ll explain why.

First off – I have a “Simplicity and solid training is the foundation to all effective horsemanship” kind of view.  I don’t like following tack trends, or using certain pieces of equipment just because such-and-such famous horseperson said I need too.  *coughParellicough*

So ‘upgrading’ Copper’s tack can sort of feel like I’m buying into the “My pony is sooo shuper shpeciallll! He needz all the fahancey matchy tack and polos or he can’t jumps/dressage/hacks, etc…” thing that seems to happen a lot out in internet land. 

But there’s another part of me that recognizes that the cheapest isn’t always the best kind of simple, and sometimes you get what you pay for.

For instance – Copper’s bit. There was nothing inherently wrong with it, but it was not the best bit for my horse.


French-Link-Snaffle - Copper’s old bit; Loose Ring French Link Snaffle with a thick middle link -

I used to ride him in a basic Loose Ring French Link Snaffle – (Joey used to ride in a French Link Eggbutt Snaffle, but when I tried that on Copper he hated it) and I can’t remember why I got the idea that I should try a different bit, but I did.  I think somewhere along the way it finally clicked that Copper has a super thick tongue – lift up his lips and his tongue is bulging over his bars type thick – it completely fills his mouth. I was reading that in that kind of situation, a thinner bit is often more comfortable for the horse than a thicker bit. 

This was a new idea for me – I’ve always thought that thicker bits were softer and gentler that thinner ones – which is true, if your horse doesn’t have a thick tongue!

And what’s more, a shaped mouthpiece is even better for conforming to the shape of the horse’s mouth and not causing undue pressure across the roof of the mouth, tongue or bars. So that’s how I ended up looking at a Myler bit. 

I read a lot of stories about how good a Myler bit was for so-and-so’s horse, and I was drawn to the thinness and shaping of the mouthpiece initially. Then I was talking to the tack shop assistant and found out that purpose of the Wide Barrel Loose Ring Comfort Level 1 Myler Snaffle design sounded like just the thing for Copper. The shifting of the loose ring combined with the rolling action of the barrel joint is engineered to help to ‘destabilize’ the bit, making it harder for your horse to lock his jaw against the mouthpiece and lean on it.

Since Copper has a strong tendency to either lean, or curl up above or behind the vertical (which locks up his neck, his shoulders, his back, and you get the picture!) I was hopeful that the new bit would help soften him enough to get his listening to my aids rather than just ignoring me. (More of the trials and tribulations of retraining an ex-trotter…)

Wonderfully enough, this has been the case.

Copper liked the feel of the new bit in his mouth from the very start and was a lot softer through his mouth, jaw and poll when I picked up contact. I also quickly discovered that when he did start boring down on my hands in a trot, I could wiggle one rein to get his attention and stop him from trying to lock his jaw around the bit and take charge.

It took a few repetitions, but he soon figured out that leaning wasn’t going to work any more. From then on, our trot work has continued to improve consistantly.

I’m able to take up a steady contact with his mouth that he is much more receptive to – probably because he is much more comfortable in his mouth now. The bit has stopped becoming a point of battle for us – he can’t use it to take charge any more, so he’s stopped arguing over it with me and has become much more accepting of my rein aids.

I’m glad I’ve found a bit that is more comfortable for him, and I know for us, the Wide Barrel Loose Ring Comfort Level 1 Myler Snaffle has certainly helped to dispel tension and leaning problems.


Loose-Ring-Myler-Comfort-Snaffle - Copper’s new bit; The Wide Barrel Loose Ring Comfort Myler Snaffle -


I can finally focus on riding the back of the horse, and leave his face alone! (Which I was trying to do before, but it was really hard when Copper would make our rides into a discussion of who was controlling the speed of our gaits, and which gait we were going at - all through locking his jaw either on the bit, or against the straps of a Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle!)

While I could go into all the ins and outs and discuss why I continue to ride with a bit when Copper obviously didn’t like it in the past - even if he is more accepting of it today - I think that’s really another topic for a different post all together.

So that’s the conclusion to Part 1 of my posts reviewing Copper’s tack changes, and the biggest part too. Part 2 will be looking at his new girth and breastplate. And that’s really it for now. So maybe it’s not all the fancy like I was thinking.  Certainly not by tack-ho standards.  ;D

See ya,


Disclosure: I am not affiliated with the Myler Bit company – I bought this product and chose to review it because I like it. All opinions expressed about the product are my own.


  1. Bit changes can be so interesting. Some horses won't seem to care what you ride them in, and others make a big deal! Guinness goes in a thinner bit, too. He has a low palate, and any single jointed bit drives him nuts. The thin double jointed ones are awesome, and he likes eggbutt and other fixed cheek varieties best.

    1. It's so interesting, how they react isn't it? And the bit is not something I think of changing first - if my horse is having a contact problem I'm like "Okay, fix my position, fix my aids, work on schooling horse, do his teeth - oh, may be he'd like a bitless bridle, etc" - literally, changing the bit is the last thing on my mental list of things I could change!


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