Im Too Sexy For My Bit - Bitting the Baroque Horse

The supermodels of the horse world! Everyone loves to look at these stunning creatures with their strong powerful frames, long flowing manes and extravagant actions. Performing Levadès and Capriolès in the paddock for fun, the athletic ability of these animals really is something to marvel. Finding the perfect bit however can be somewhat of a nightmare for the owners!

Every now and then I see a regular pattern or trend of bitting issues arise either within a breed or certain lineage. One that regularly comes up for us is difficulty in bitting the Baroque horse. Fresian, Lipizzaner, Luisitano and Andalusian breeds all fall into this category and from my experience they all have 3 things in common:

1. Very low palates

2. Very large tongues

3. Extreme bit sensitivity

I have learned that the baroque horse is quite unforgiving once he feels that he has been done an injustice, it is quite a lot of work to gain back that trust and acceptance that has been lost - particularly when it comes to his bit. 

Some signs your supermodel may not be happy in his current mouthpiece:

1. Opening the mouth

2. Sucking the tongue back up into the throat

3. Tense jaw and neck

4. Chomping and grinding the bit

5. Not wanting to move forward freely

Baroque horses have very large sensitive tongues, they do not like the pressure or restriction caused by conventional mouthpieces and can act quite claustrophobic.  Often this is combined with a very small mouth and finer lower skull structure, if you look in his mouth by parting his lips you may see the tongue bulging out of the dental gaps. Put your finger between the tongue and palate, not much room is there?

Why not just choose a thinner bit? The issue with choosing a thinner standard jointed bit is it in most cases also becomes sharper in the mouth and on the lips, so while we have tackled the space issue, we then create an unwanted pressure issue. The below bits are designed to be comfortable, fit perfectly in cramped mouths and remain kind.

These are the bits we have had the most success with on Baroque breeds. 

1. Neue Schule Turtle Tactio

The Turtle Tactio has been a saving grace for many of my Fresian and Andalusion owners who's horses open their mouth against the bit to avoid bar pressure (without being strong), or for those with very big thick tongues. The Tactio is flattenned through the middle to reduce bulk in the mouth, but still leaves a 16mm weight bearing surface at the lip edge and a flat 16mm surface on the tongue - BUT it doesnt use any downward tongue pressure like a Sprenger KK etc. 

2. Neue Schule Verbindend Bridoon

A thinner version of its snaffle counter part, this snaffle is brilliant for a horse who can get a little strong or lean onto the forehand. The Verbindend doesn't use any downward tongue pressure and creates a channel for the tongue to lie in meaning the horses tongue, jaw and neck are fully relaxed. 

3. Bombers Happy Tongue Snaffle

Perfect option for the very fussy overactive mouth as it sits very still but still gives you plenty of response through the loose ring cheekpiece. The mouthpiece is 16mm at the lip edge and on the lower jaw but narrows to 10mm within the mouth cavity taking up minimal space. This bit is also ergonomically curved to not inflict painful unwanted pressure on the horses palate.