Just like everything else in my blog. :)
There are only two types of bits: snaffle bits (no leverage) and curb bits (which have leverage). Snaffle bits have two points of pressure, whereas curb bits have five points of pressure (soft pallet, bars, tongue, chin, and behind ears).
She mentioned quite a few things to look for on bits that I would have never even thought to look at, and in all my research have never even heard of, but they make a lot of sense.
With snaffle bits, the rings should be fixed to prevent the lips from getting pinched as the rings slide through on O-ring snaffles. Needless to say, Paula has a new bit on order.
On curb bits, the port should be in the same plane as the headstall. If the port is ahead of the headstall rings, then the horse gets no release from pressure. Also, the attachment for the chin strap needs to be where the chin strap will hit the horse's chin groove, not above it. There also needs to be at least 1 3/4" between the bar and the headstall rings for a proper fit.
She mentioned the different metals briefly. Copper and sweet iron are good as they make the horse salivate, but straight copper wears too easily and can create spurs on the bit, which of course is a bad thing. We learned this the hard way when I was a kid--we had a pony that we showed in a copper-wrapped bit and that copper wrapping soon wore off, creating basically a very sharp and harsh bit. It was tossed and we went back to the straight steel kind to avoid hurting him again. Some new bits actually impregnate the copper into the bit, though, and these don't wear off like the old copper-wrapped kind did.
Our instructor also talked about where a bit should lay in the horse's mouth. Most people (myself included) have heard that you need one wrinkle in the horse's mouth. Did you ever think to ask why? I didn't. I admit, I've always tried to do a little looser than one wrinkle if I can. Headstall adjustments aren't perfect so I always go on the looser end of the one wrinkle rule, but our instructor said that really there doesn't need to be a wrinkle at all. As long as the bit sits in the horse's mouth properly, not hitting any teeth, then the wrinkle rule is one that has been passed down but has no logical basis behind it.
One more neat trick she showed us that really has nothing to do with bits, but I want to share it, is how to see if a saddle you have will fit your horse. Take a wire coathanger and press it over your horse's withers, bending the coathanger into the shape of your horse. Then take the bent coathanger over to your saddle and place it in where the withers would be. You can easily tell this way if your saddle is going to be of a proper width and height to fit your horse!
I'm not doing the clinic justice at all, but these were some interesting points that I had jotted down. Next post I'll go over the situation that Paula and I encountered and how the instructor helped us through it.
You never know what you don't know until you don't know, you know?