A popular horse bit for young and more established horses here at Houghton Country we stock a wide range of loose ring bits with various mouthpieces, materials and thicknesses.
A loose ring bit allows more movement in the horse's mouth which means the horse can position the bit where they prefer rather than a fixed cheek type such as an Eggbutt snaffle. This additional movement in the mouth can also be helpful in preventing horses that can be heavy or wooden from leaning on or taking hold of the bit. Some horses do however prefer the stability that a fixed cheek bit offers, and a fixed cheek is more likely to be chosen for a horse that is prone to sores and rubs in the corners of the mouth.
Predominantly snaffles or a slight variation of a snaffle, loose ring bits are used in the majority of equestrian activities. From dressage to cross-country to hacking out, there is a wide variety of mouthpieces available from a basic loose ring single jointed snaffle to a more specifically shaped mouthpiece to help with specific problems and vices. Many loose ring snaffles are British Dressage, British Eventing and British Showjumping legal, however it is always recommended to check the current rules of any competition you enter. For example, a loose ring Waterford snaffle is not dressage Legal (BD or Dressage phase of BE) but acceptable for cross-country and showjumping, while a loose ring snaffle with lozenge is currently legal for BD, BE and BS.
There is also a large range of bit thicknesses available to help accommodate those horses with a small or large amount of room in their mouths. The severity of the mouthpiece action, as well as the comfort of the horse or pony, is usually dictated by the fit inside the mouth rather than a general rule. There has been a long-held belief (which has been disproven through scientific research) that a thicker bit is kinder, however a thick bit in a small mouth that has a low palate and big fleshy tongue can cause soreness and irritation to the palate and tongue, as well as preventing the mouthpiece from acting as it should. It is therefore best to treat each horse's mouth as an individual and bit according to their physical characteristics. However, a very thin bit, i.e. one thinner than 10mm, should never be used on a horse due to the physical damage this can cause to the mouth.
Another variation to consider is the material that the mouthpiece is made from, from traditional stainless steel to sweet iron to special alloy and metal mixes developed after years of research to help horses be more accepting of the bit. We also do a range of plastic happy mouth bits that includes loose ring snaffle options.