Stephen Biddlecombe of Equine Management Ltd offers advice on choosing the perfect bit for Polo Times mag
May 10th, 2018
Choosing a polo bit
If you are having problems with finding a bit that is suitable for your pony, there are a few steps that you need follow to get the right bit in its mouth.
Firstly, you need to make sure that the pony doesn’t have any mouth, back or neck problems, as no bit will truly help, if the discomfort lies in these areas.
The most important part of fitting the correct bit is finding the right mouth piece for the particular pony. Here it is what the pony is generally doing with its head that tells you what bit is needed:
Head in the air
The pony sticking its nose up in the air the moment the reins are taken up is probably telling you that it is experiencing discomfort in its mouth. You could try a three-piece bit, such as a control plate. We like the Bombers BC45 Pelham, which is set at 45° to follow the contour of the tongue; a pony that sticks its nose up in the air will likely draw back and tuck his chin in more, coming back to a better point of control. (This bit has a 55/75mm shank).
A pony shaking its head generally means that he does not like the tongue pressure. If you’ve tried a roller bit like the Bombers Buster Roller Pelham or a control plate like the Bombers BC45 Pelham, you would be wise go ‘softer’, and try a Happy Tongue bit, designed specifically to take pressure off the tongue. We like the Bombers Happy Tongue T Bar 3 Ring, as it is perfect for a pony shaking its head when bit pressure is applied, or whose tongue is trying to escape the bit.
Bringing the chin to the chest
The pony bringing its chin to its chest in an effort to evade the bit is usually a sure sign of ‘too much bit’ for the pony, and it is trying to relieve the pressure. The solution is to either ride on looser reins, or use a softer bit. Although technically not a polo bit, you could try the Bombers Lock Up Snaffle 2.5 Ring – it removes any nut-cracker action, meaning it will bear less pressure on the bars (the inter-dental area where the bit sits in the mouth). It has a curved mouthpiece, which distributes pressure more evenly over the tongue and bars, and features an offset centre link.
Poking the nose forward
The pony that pokes its nose forward is probably trying to pull the reins out of the rider’s hands in an effort to relieve the pressure of the bit. Once again, the solution is to use a softer bit; we like the Bombers Blue Pelham which is ported for tongue relief, and is very lightweight. (This bit has a 55/75mm shank).
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