Last Updated: May 25, 2021
Riding a horse requires careful communication between the horse and rider. This communication is performed through several avenues, using pressure, sounds, and movement through the reins and bit, allowing the rider to make their commands understood to the horse. While pressure and sounds can go a long way towards helping your horse understand what you want, it’s really the bit that gives you precise control over your horse’s movements.
The bit sits in your horse’s mouth, connected to the reins. When you move the reins, the bit reacts, which your horse feels in its mouth. Based on the bit’s movement, the horse will respond.
Great if you’re an experienced rider that understands bit selection and use, bravo. But if you’re newer to horses, the sheer number of different bits available can be quite overwhelming. To help you narrow down the options, we’ve written reviews on seven of the best bits, which should help you choose one to use with your horse.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
The 7 Best Horse Bits – Reviews 2021
1. Coronet Mouth Training Bit with Copper Port – Best Overall
With the Coronet Mouth Training Bit, you’re getting a lot more than just a regular bit, which is why it’s our pick for best overall. This bit features a three-piece design, which is much softer on your horse’s mouth and isn’t going to pinch or cause discomfort.
We think the real draw of this mouthpiece is that it’s a two-in-one design. It can be used as either a curb or snaffle bit, depending on your preferences and needs. On the downside, this could make it a bit confusing for a new rider, though it’s able to grow with you if you decide you’d like to try something different without getting a new bit.
This bit is made from two materials. It’s mostly crafted from stainless steel, which won’t corrode or rust. This is important since the bit will be introduced to a lot of saliva, and many other bits are susceptible to corrosion. Though most of the bit is stainless steel, copper is used for the quarter-moon center link to make the bit sweeter in your horse’s mouth. This improves your horse’s salivation, keeping the mouth moist for easy use.
2. AJ Tack Jr. Cowhorse Dogbone Twisted Snaffle Bit — Best Value
Affordably priced and extremely effective, we think the AJ Tack Sliding Gag Bit is the best horse bit for the money. It’s priced low enough that even an equine beginner won’t be turned off by the price, but it performs like bits that cost a fair bit more. This bit utilizes a three-piece design with twisted wire and a dog bone. The parts inside your horse’s mouth are made of sweet iron to keep your horse salivating, but the other parts are made of stainless steel to resist corrosion.
This is a sliding gag bit, which means that it can provide some lateral leverage in your horse’s mouth. It will pull the horse’s head up by putting pressure on their lips. But if you pull too hard, it could be a bit severe for your horse, so you’ll want to make sure to exercise caution while you’re getting used to using this bit.
3. Professional’s Choice Futurity 3 Piece Twisted Wire Bit – Premium Choice
Search for horse bits online for just a few moments and you’re sure to notice some outrageously expensive offerings that immediately make you question how expensive of a hobby you’ve chosen in horse riding. While these expensive pieces might be a turn-off, we’ve found proof that premium equine products don’t have to cost a fortune in the Professional’s Choice Futurity Bit.
This is a three-piece bit utilizing twisted wire. It comes in two different designs, using either a dog bone or a roll, depending on your preferences. Able to lay across your horse’s bars and tongue without pinching, this bit is very comfortable for your horse. However, it does have a short gag action, which will allow you to pick up your horse’s head with some extra leverage if you need to.
If you’ve got a horse that’s ready to transition to a shank bit from a snaffle bit, then this bit is a great training tool to help them. Our only real complaint is that it’s susceptible to corrosion, so you’ll want to dry it off after use to prevent that from occurring.
4. Reinsman Sharon Camarillo Lifesaver Plus Touch Bit
For horses with sensitive mouths, the Reinsman Sharon Camarillo Lifesaver Plus Touch Bit is a great choice. It’s designed for sensitive mouths, so it won’t pull or bite. Instead, a longer shank was used to provide more control. It’s a three-piece design with an O-ring snaffle that utilizes lip, bar, and tongue pressure to control your horse.
This is a great all-purpose bit as it’s ideal for use on riding trails or in competitions. It’s a pretty pricey bit though; there are far cheaper options available. Still, it’s covered by a lifetime guarantee, so you can be certain that your investment will last.
5. Equisential by Professionals Choice Short Shank Smooth Snaffle Bit
Equisential is made by Professional’s Choice, and we’ve had good luck with their bits in the past. This short shank smooth snaffle bit is not a bad bit by any means, but compared to some of the other options on this list, we think it’s a bit of a disappointment. Granted, it’s priced reasonably and has some decent features. However, if you need some leverage, you won’t get it with this bit, so make sure your horse is well-trained if you opt to use it.
This bit works by applying pallet and bar pressure. It’s great as an all-purpose mouthpiece since it can be used for trail riding, competition, and more. Crafted from sweet iron with copper inlay, it’s designed to keep your horse’s mouth moist. That said, you can’t see any signs of the copper inlay, so you have to just believe it’s there.
6. Mylar SS 5 HBT Shank Sweet Iron Comfort Snaffle
The Mylar SS 5 HBT Shank Sweet Iron Comfort Snaffle is a decent bit, even though it’s ranked quite low on our list. This is a comfort snaffle, and it’s harmless for horses. It’s designed to be comfortable for your horse, and it’s made with a copper inlay that tastes sweet to horses and helps them salivate.
Since this is a comfort snaffle, you’re not going to get much bite if you need it. There’s no gag to help with lift or leverage, so it’s best used on well-trained horses. Even then, it’s a very expensive bit and you’re not getting anything special for the price. Other bits that cost less than half as much provided similar benefits and features, which is why we don’t recommend shelling out such a high amount for the Mylar SS bit.
7. Weaver Leather Tom Thumb Snaffle Bit
If this is your first time shopping for horse bits, then you might be taken back a bit by the outrageous prices that accompany some bits. Just based on looks, it can be pretty difficult to determine why these bits go for so much. But if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative that won’t break the bank, you’ll like the price of the Weaver Leather Tom Thumb Snaffle Bit.
Compared to other bits, this one is downright cheap in price. Unfortunately, the quality is similarly low. Rather than stainless steel and copper construction, this bit utilizes cheaper copper and chrome plating. While this does help keep the cost down, both of these coverings tend to wear off rather quickly. The bit is still usable when they wear off, but it’s still frustrating to watch a new bit wear out that quickly.
On the other hand, this bit is great to use. It provides ample leverage without giving too much bite to your horse. And even though the copper and chrome plating are pretty cheap, they do a decent job of preventing rust and corrosion.
There’s a lot to learn when you’re getting into horse riding. Not only do you have to learn all of the commands and ways of interacting with your horse, but you’ve also got to get all of the equipment correct. And let’s be honest, there’s a lot of equipment for horse riding! Saddles, stirrups, pads, reins, leaders, halters, and far more. It can all get pretty confusing, and pretty expensive!
One piece of equipment that you can’t go without is a bit. The bit allows you to communicate with your horse in detail. It’s attached to the reins, which you hold in your hands. As you pull the reins, the bit reacts in your horse’s mouth, cueing the horse into your commands. The problem is, how do you know which bit is a good fit for your horse? Unless you’ve used a lot of different bits before, it’s a bit of a guessing game. Luckily, you’ve found this buyer’s guide, which aims to help you figure out which bit is best for you and your horse.
Though you might see many variations of bits, they all essentially boil down to two main types of bits; snaffle bits and curb bits.
Curb bits are also known as leverage bits, and they provide leverage for you to get better control of your horse. To do this, the reins attach to a shank on the bit, and there’s often a curb strap used under the horse’s chin as well. This makes it so that when the rider applies pressure to the reins, it creates extra leverage, lifting the horse’s head.
Snaffle bits do not have any leverage, so the reins attach directly to the bit, rather than attaching to a shank. When you pull on the reins, they pull on the bit in your horse’s mouth, giving the horse a gentle signal.
Snaffle bits tend to be a bit more comfortable for the horse, but curb bits will give you more leverage, offering improved control.
What Are Bits Made Of?
One major difference between horse bits is what they’re made of. A bit is going to be moist a lot since it’s in your horse’s mouth. This can easily lead to corrosion, which is why many high-quality horse bits feature stainless steel construction.
Of course, stainless steel isn’t ideal for the entire bit to be made from. Your horse must continue to salivate while the bit is in its mouth, as the saliva acts as lubrication to keep everything moist and prevent the bit from causing damage or pain. For this reason, the parts of the bit that are in your horse’s mouth are generally made of a different material. The most common materials used for these parts are copper and sweet iron. Both of these are sweet-tasting to your horse and will help keep them salivating.
Problems arise when the parts of the bit that aren’t in your horse’s mouth aren’t made of stainless steel, as they then tend to corrode. Also, chrome and copper platings are common on cheaper bits, replacing true copper and stainless steel. While these platings do work, they tend to rub off quite quickly, making them a poor substitution in the long run.
Regardless of what type of bit you ultimately choose, you’re going to have to make sure that it’s properly sized for your horse. Bits come in different sizes, just like horses. If you get a bit that’s the wrong size for your horse, it can lead to discomfort, rubbing, pain, and other problems.
The main measurement for you to be concerned with is bit width. This is the distance between the two cheek pieces on the bit. The standard size is 5 inches, though 5.5 and 6-inch bits are available for larger horses. Smaller, 4.5-inch bits are made for ponies, and 4.75-inch bits are available for lighter-boned horses like Arabians.
Hopefully, after reading our reviews, you’re feeling pretty confident about picking a new bit to use with your horse. We’ve found seven of the best bits available, and one of them is sure to be a great fit. In case you’re still on the fence, we’re going to go over our top picks once more, ensuring they’re fresh in your mind.
Our favorite horse bit overall is the Coronet mouth training bit, which works as either a curb or snaffle bit. It’s a three-piece design with a quarter-moon center link made of copper to keep the mouth moist. The rest of the bit is stainless steel so it doesn’t corrode.
For the best value, we recommend the AJ Tack sliding gag bit. This affordably priced bit is made of sweet iron and stainless steel to prevent corrosion and keep your horse salivating. It’s soft on your horse, but thanks to the gag design, it can provide plenty of leverage when you need it.
If you don’t mind paying a bit more, we suggest the Professional’s Choice Futurity bit. It comes in two designs, offers plenty of leverage with short gag action, but won’t pinch your horse’s mouth.
Featured image credit: zoosnow, Pixabay
An avid outdoorsman, Dean spends much of his time adventuring through the diverse terrain of the southwest United States with his closest companion, his dog, Gohan. He gains experience on a full-time journey of exploration. For Dean, few passions lie closer to his heart than learning. An apt researcher and reader, he loves to investigate interesting topics such as history, economics, relationships, pets, politics, and more.