Dental Maintenance and care are paramount to the Health and Welfare of the Horse. Often overlooked, challenges in the saddle begin as a variable in the Art of Bit equipment for our Riding.
The first measure to be taken is a general examination by a Professional, be it a Veterinarian or Lay. Usually seen once a year, some find every 6 mouths necessary for appointments. After evaluation and attending to procedures insuring a healthy mouth, please ask for an assessment of the height of the palette and thickness of the tongue. All Horses are unique, and the heights of the palette and thickness of the tongues will be a factors in choosing correct bit configurations. If needed, please ask for assistance to obtain the correct measurement for bits.
Understand your challenges with head position and mouth activity. Is there refusal to bit, evasion, rushing, chomping, is your horse animated, dropping grain or (hopefully) relaxation, perhaps the uncomplicated mouth of a quiet Steady Eddie?
Choosing a bit can be difficult. There a numerous cheekpieces and mouthpieces , and several of combinations as well as combinations of metals. Take a moment and define what you are seeking in your chosen discipline- be it jumping, pleasure, dressage...
I've had several in-house seminars with Dale Myler, and worked directly with Herm Sprenger and their training Bit Center. Each bit is designed by teams of professionals who have done extensive research with veterinarians, riding professionals, and design engineers. These brands have created mouthpieces that consider the anatomy of the horse's mouth to improve and encourage comfortable communication between rider and horse. I also have used Nathe and Neue Schule on my OTTBs.
so it not a matter of being Brand Loyal, it will always be a matter of being Loyal to your Horse's needs.
There is good information out there, and also what I find to be questionable. Like saddles, there is no tried and true combination that will work for all horses.
Take measures to trial bits. There are several resources that still offer such.
Properly fitting brides are critical. Not all horses are standard Cobs, Full, Warmbloods. You have opportunity to customize traditional bridle lengths and build a well-fitting piece of Equipment. K&L Select has assisted me numerous times for clients with hard to fit horses.
Several studies have been done focusing on the nerve endings of the facial area. I am particularly partial to anatomical brow bands, and Micklem is certainly one of my favorite brands. Again, not all equipment is suitable for every horse.
Insure that your bridle is of decent quality leather and do not over condition.