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BITS...Friend or Foe
The idea of “Bitting” horses began about 6,000 years ago with very little thought for the animals. Originally made of bone or wood the bits were designed to dominate horses using the application of “pain and pressure”.
6,000 years later, there are fewer changes (other than using metal in place of the bone or wood) than one might think in the bitting process. During that time I have witnesses horrific damage caused by the continued use of bits that are still based on the old principle of “pain and pressure”! The result is often the shortening of the horses’ lives by up to ten years. Most disturbing is the fact that nearly all this damage could have been avoided! For the caring and thinking horse owner, I offer the following information, in good faith, based on my personal experiences as a professional Equine Dentist for the past 36 years.
There are basically two types of Bits commonly used: The Snaffle Bit: Which may have a broken (jointed) mouthpiece (cannon) or a straight mouthpiece.
The Curb Bit: Which as the snaffle can also have a ‘broken’ or ‘straight’ mouthpiece, but this Bit works also with a ‘Chin Strap’ or a (Chin) Chain. The strap or chain adds pressure to the jaw, in a clamping action combining tongue and jaw pressure. Additionally, these can also add pressure in the Palate, Teeth, Bars, and soft tissue. Common usage of Bits which are ‘double broken’ (two joints with a link between) are proven to be the most common cause of broken and permanently injured Bars (Jaw Bones).
During my 3 decades of work I have and still witness horrific carnage within horses' mouths due to poor Bit choices. The most common damage caused by Bits is as follow:
1. Bone Splints: Double Jointed Bits, Thick Bits coupled with excessively tight Nosebands, and/or unbalanced horse and rider combination.
2. Depressed Bone: (Barre) …Causes: As above
3. Broken Jaw: Causes: As above, Jaw (curb) Chain, also used with tight Nosebands. (Yes they do that now.)
4. Tongue Damage: Bruised (blue tongue) split, cut, paralyzed, and cut completely in half. Causes: Wire Bits, Too thin Bits, Too thick Bits, ‘Spade’ Bits.r
5. Palate Injuries: Cuts, Bruising, split open, holes.
Causes: copper winding on Bits, (breaking and winding off) Ports, Spades, 'Play dingle-dangles on Bits! 'Gag' Bits.
6. Injured Gums and Lips: Abrasion, rubber burns, (rubber bits) cheeks pulled up into teeth (gag bits).
Materials: Another important element to consider in your choice of Bits is the Materials used to make the Bit. Theses materials including metal, plastic, alloys, heavy metals, Rubber and Leather.
Cast Iron or 'Sweet Iron': Some say horses like this because they make mouth movements, and a lot of saliva - However, these Bits are prone to rust and oxidize, which creates toxins! (Would you put it in your mouth?)
Plastic: When the horse bites on a plastic Bit, the Bit is damaged. This damage causes a 'file-like' effect that will then cut into the horse's tongue, lips, and gums.
Rubber: Although the thought is good, unfortunately it is not so kind, because of the abrasions and damage caused by friction, as is witnessed by tissue damage of the lips and gums.
Copper and Copper Alloys: Copper is a 'heavy' Metal and when ingested may cause 'copper poisoning'. Symptoms include: Muscular aches, Fever, Anemia, Respiratory disturbances, Inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, Abdominal pain, Diarrhea, Osteochondrosis, (OCD). (Again, probably not something you would do to yourself!)
Pressure from Double broken bit causes tongue to push soft palate, closing the airway. Dotted yellow lines indicate position of Hippus bit.
Hippus Bit gives tongue freedom!
“If a horse is comfortable and calm, is free from stress and pain, the horse is content and therefore easier to ride and train!
Seemingly, most 'Loriners' (a person who made bits, spurs, and other small metal objects) had very little interest in relieving horses of pain and pressure, and so applied even more of such into the Bit designs.
It is debatable as to their anatomical knowledge of the horse and whether they even conducted subsequent inspections of the inside of horses' mouths to determine the damage that was being inflicted as a result of using their bit designs.
One Loriner, however, found some moments of historical fame. Don Juan Segundo, a Loriner for King George IV, in 1832 designed a Bit with a High semi- circular mouthpiece, supported by protruding Cannons, which laid upon each barre from each side. The large semi circle was to allow the tongue complete freedom of movement.
This tongue relief system gave many horses the pleasure of comfort they were dreaming of but had not experienced up to that point. Mr. Segundo’s insight and creativity was rewarded with a commendation from the King himself. Sadly, this was all rather short-lived for all concerned…he, the Horse, and the King. For soon, the pleasure of “tongue freedom” was replaced by the application of extreme pressure – achieved by the 'cannons' exerting direct and constant pressure on the 'Barre'. This method caused (and still causes) severe bruising and permanent injury to horses. Some of us in the Equine Dental World, through the relationships with some prominent paleontologists, have had the fortune to inspect some of these horses that were owned by members of the royal families of Europe. There is quite enough evidence of Barre, Nasal Bone, Jaw, and Hyoid, injuries as there is still today in many ‘Modern’ riding disciplines.
Swiss made Hippus Bits are formed from surgical stainless steel to ensure that your horse is not ingesting heavy metals. Hippus Bits are anatomically designed to eliminate constant tongue pressure, allow free tongue movement and promote natural salivary function. The design and patented centre joint eliminates hard palate pressure, pinching and injury. Hippus Bits give your horse the most comfortable bit ever made. Your comfortable horse with a Hippus Bit will be relaxed and ready to reach new heights! Hippus Bits - your horse will thank you! Designed by Leith Ryan Master Equine Dentist Hippus - The Horse Lover’s Bit!
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