Neue Schule Bit Fitting Clinic
If you ask anyone in the English riding world what the hottest bits are on the market, you'll hear about Neue Schule immediately. They are quickly gaining a reputation for being the best, but also have a reputation for being incredibly expensive and incredibly complicated. Basically there's about a million different snaffles all with slight design differences. Even if you're prepared to splurge, it's hard to tell which pricey bit you should choose.
Of course, a ton of riders swear by these bits. They are excellent quality, my own weymouth shows almost no wear after several years of regular use. The design and research seems to hold up to scrutiny, but doesn't necessarily help the complicated decision of which bit is best for which pony.
|This collection might be pretty, but it's also more money than I actually make in a month.|
|These two bits are basically the same, only one has holes for the rings bored at a 45 degree angle, and the other has them at a more traditional 90 degree. That sort of difference requires a bit of explanation and handling to really understand.|
That's where bit clinics come in, I suppose. My barn hosted one this weekend with an expert. The price of the clinic was way too steep for me, which is sad. The information the clinician offered was incredibly useful and otherwise difficult to find.
Beyond the more traditional and basic bit sizing, the clinician spent time evaluating each horse's musculature, teeth and lips. She gave personalized feedback to each owner about any abnormalities she found, like calluses on the lips or thickening of the tongue muscle. Each item she found helped her make a call about how the horse responded to bits in general and the bit in which the horse was typically ridden.
|This horse had a mouth very typical of a thoroughbred, not surprising as his damsire is a thoroughbred. His lips are fleshy, his "smile" is short, his bars are sharp, and his mouth is low on space.|
One thing I found fascinating was changes in the muscle of the tongue. The clinician discussed how many horses will cup their tongue behind the bit to stabilize it within the mouth. She explained is is not always due to discomfort, but can be. Many horses who seemed to accept the bit well had these changes in the tongue.
The other thing I found fascinating was her comments about thoroughbred-type bars. She explained they are very "sharp" in the thoroughbred, and lightly covered with skin. These things make them very sensitive to pressure in this breed, often requiring a bit that takes the pressure off the bars and puts it more on the tongue. When I think about my own horse's preferences, they seem to back this up. Pig and Bast both prefer bits that have large center lozenges and curved sides, taking the pressure of the bars, and instead placing the bit pressure on the back of the tongue.
|She was big on showing how the bit moved in the mouth when the rider picked up the reins, as opposed to when the bit was simply sitting in the mouth.|
Based on her assessments of other horses, I have an idea of a couple of bits I'd like to try on Bast, namely the Turtle Top eggbutt. Apparently this bit sits very similarly to the JP Korsteel curved eggbutt I currently use. It is designed to take pressure off the bars, positioning it further to the back of the tongue. I'm sad I wasn't able to have Bast sized and examined by the clinician. However, his behavioral setback would have made evaluation more difficult anyway.
|Some horses went drastically differently in different bits. It was really cool to see horses become visibly more free in their shoulders as they found more comfort in seeking the contact.|
The bit I have my eye on costs way more than the ulcer meds I'm currently burning my spare funds to purchase. You can trial many types of these, but this particular bit is new and hard to find. And so, it seems like Bast might be foregoing a bit glow-up. Fortunately for us, a lot of our barn mates are purchasing new bits. So, perhaps we'll have a big supply to trial from locally soon.
Have any of you been to a bitting clinic? Have you ever measured your horse for a bit? Is this something you'd be interested in trying?