Picking a Strong Mouthpiece for Polo – An Expert Look at Bitting with Stephen Biddlecombe from World Wide Tack
February 13th, 2018
Here at World Wide Tack we are passionate about correct equine bitting advocating top quality products to best suit your horse’s needs. Proprietor Stephen Biddlecombe is an expert on bits particularly Bombers Bits.
Here he takes a look at a reader enquiry into bitting a horse with a parrot mouth featured in an edition of Polo Times Magazine.
What’s stronger – a twisted mouthpiece or a Barrie bit?
The two mouthpieces have different actions, so there’s no need to ascertain which is ‘stronger’ – although there are several highly-engineered bits available that combine the actions and benefits of both the twisted mouthpiece and the Barrie! But, more on those bits in a moment…
Firstly, the Barrie mouthpiece is often used for older or more experienced horses that evade by pulling forward. It is commonly seen with a gag cheekpiece. As usual, the ‘pulley’ ropes at the bit rings raise the bit up in the pony’s mouth and exert pressure on the bars and roof of the mouth, as well as creating poll pressure. However, the unique action of the Barrie is that it has two mouthpieces, the centre links of which are offset by 20mm, giving the bit a double nutcracker action on the tongue. Two rein sets are used.
Twisted mouthpieces tend to be used for strong ponies that lean downwards on the bit, and are available in very many cheek piece styles, including a pelham, 2.5 ring, 3-ring or gag. The twisted mouthpiece forms either large, spiral-like turns, or smaller, tighter turns. Typically, the wider the turns of the twist in the bit, the gentler the bit is; so a square twist is stronger than the round twist, because it has a more significant edge. A twisted bit may help to lighten the forehand and help educate the pony to carry themselves.
A player with a pony that is a leaner AND a puller could look at a Barrie bit that’s twisted, such as the Bombers Square Twisted Barrie Big Ring Gag. Meanwhile, a versatile bit is the Bombers Reversible Barrie, which includes one twisted mouthpiece, and one smooth one – the bit can be ‘flipped’ and used either way. As you can imagine, these bits tend to be used by experienced players. In fact , some riders utilise twisted bits as a training tool, using them occasionally in order to educate the pony and alternating with other, more simple bits.
Bombers Bits include hundreds of off the shelf bitting solutions, and customers can even design their own bespoke bit from a selection of mouth pieces, cheek pieces and widths, using a ‘design your own bit’ service. Bombers bits are made from blue sweet iron – the metal oxidises easily, creating a warm, sweet taste in the horse’s mouth. This encourages the horse to salivate. Visit to find out more about this bitting range. www.worldwidetack.com