Can You Identify These Horse Bits?

By: Kennita Leon
Image: Wiki Commons via Alpha

About This Quiz

Chances are you know this already, but just in case you don't, a horse bit is a type of accessory that is used in certain equestrian activities. It rests near the horse's mouth (the area where there are no teeth) and is meant to provide negative reinforcement to the horse. Made out of a variety of materials, a horse bit helps mold a horse's behavior; when the rider pulls on the reins, the bit adds pressure to the horse's mouth. When the reins are pulled softly, less pressure is added. 

While studies have shown that horses can become stressed and unpredictable when too much pressure is constantly added, soft, consistent pulling is acceptable. Horse bits have become very popular and just as necessary when dealing with horses. So, we want to know if you can recognize the different types that exist. 

Some horse bits, like the mullen mouth, are more comfortable for the animal, while others like the Doc Bristol are said to be severe. Some bits that encourage salivation are easy for the horse to carry, while others are frowned upon. Can you tell the difference between the comfy and the cruel ones? Can you identify these horse bits if we show you a picture?  


This bit is a simple mouthpiece with a slight curvature so that it rests comfortably over the horse's tongue.

Thick bit mouthpieces, which may be uncomfortable to some horses, are generally used to produce a softer action in the horse's mouth.

A port is an inverted "U" shape which is located in the center mouthpiece of some bits.

Keys, which are also called a mouthing bit, are three keys which are located on a center ring in the mouthpiece.

This type of mouthpiece, which is attached by a single joint in the middle, creates a V-shape when the reins are applied.

Rollers, which are sometimes found on bits with ports and spades, are used to slightly increase the severity of the bit.

This bit is characterized by straight, well-decorated shanks and a mouthpiece with a flat, rounded plate fixed above a narrow port.

Wire bit mouthpieces are thin, and place pressure on a small area of the bars of the mouth and lips, and on the tongue.

French link mouthpieces are characterized by a flat peanut shape link in the middle which connects two other links.

This bit is shaped for comfort and control, thus reducing tongue pressure and palate injury risk.

This type of mouthpiece is thought to be a gentler bit as compared to those with a jointed mouthpiece.

Chain mouthpieces are made from regular chain, bicycle or chainsaw links, which makes it very uncomfortable for the horse.

Rollers may be made of copper, stainless steel or an alternating pattern between the two. They are often seen on the full cheek snaffle.

Twisted mouthpieces, which are similar to simple jointed snaffles, are characterized by a twist formed in the middle of the bit, which may be large or tight.

Mouthpieces with a single joint create a nutcracker effect on the bars of the mouth, on the lips and over the tongue.

This bit resembles the French link, but differs in that the link is longer and set at a slight angle.

This mouthpiece is commonly used on many horses due to the comfort of the weight. It's bulkier in diameter, but hollow.

Like the name suggests, this mouthpiece features a small ball in the middle of the bit which sits directly on the horse's tongue.

Rollers are sometimes manufactured with copper in order to encourage salivation in the horse.

A spade bit is considered to be a highly technical piece of equipment which represents the highest level of trust between a horse and rider.

Wire bit mouthpieces usually come in three types: straight, jointed or double offset twists.

Thinner mouthpieces result in a more severe bit, due to the pressure placed on the bars of the mouth and a thin area of the tongue.

The mullen mouth bit, as compared to a straight mouthpiece, is slightly more comfortable for a horse to carry.

Keys, which are used to introduce young horses to bits, are small elongated beads of metal attached to the mouthpiece.

The French link is considered to be easier for a horse to carry and milder than a mullen mouth or single joint.

This mouthpiece has a slight nutcracker action and is more severe than the mullen mouth or the French mouth.

Like the wire bit mouthpiece, the chain mouthpiece is very severe and is considered to be very cruel.

Ports may be very high or shallow and may have other additions which spin or rattle.

Wire bit mouthpieces are very severe. Thus, they are frowned upon by many trainers.

This bit is slightly more severe than the French link, due to the pressure placed on the horse's tongue.

This bit is slightly more severe than the French link, due to the pressure placed on the horse's tongue.

The half moon bit has a curve. This provides room for the tongue.

Unlike a jointed mouthpiece, there is no nutcracker effect when the reins are pulled, making the mullenmouth bit gentler and more comfortable.

A jointed mouthpiece has a nutcracker effect when the reins are pulled. This bit is less gentle than a mullen mouth bit.

The hollow mouthpiece is lighter in weight than many bits which are made with a solid mouthpiece. This is more comfortable for the horse.

This elaborate, complex bit can only be used by a skilled rider and a horse who have had at least five to seven years of training.

Roller bits encourage the horse to salivate. Rollers are also prevent the horse from leaning too much on the bit mouthpiece.

The French link is a small flat piece in the center of the mouthpiece. It is flat and shaped like a peanut.

Ports, which are found on English, western and driving bridles, are generally used in more advanced riding. The port is shaped like an inverted U.

A bit with keys gives the horse something to play with, with his tongue. This may reduce other unwanted behaviors, such as head tossing.

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