Bitting concepts and how bitting horses has changed

We talk to Abbey Bits and Hilary Vernon about the changes in bits and new innovations over the years.

Historically horses were a mode of transport and a necessity, and consequently you could say were worked and fed more naturally.  Hours of work each day in most cases so that the horse was naturally fit and utilised its energy. Proper holidays where horses were turned out for the season when they beware not working, and allowed time off mentally and physically to rest and recover and then brought back into work fit and well for the work to be done.

Positive changes that have happened in modern bitting are that we now know more about the conformation of the horse and in particular the mouth and we realise that using well balanced and well made bits is very sensible. We know that spending £1000 or more on a saddle and £20 on a bit is not realistic.

The negative side to modernisation is there are some very poorly made bits on the market, both in the cheap and the more expensive categories with no balance or particular theory behind how they work or how to use them.

There are more choices of competition and environment now whereas historically the single jointed Snaffle, the Double Bridle and the Pelham were your adequate choices (unless yours was a carriage horse), for all that was required of the horse.


Realistically you should still keep traditional values – always buy a bit that looks well made and looks equal and symmetrical to the eye. The bit should feel comfortable to handle, it is after all to go in your horse’s mouth so if you don’t like the action neither will he. And lastly have a good idea of how your choice of bit works so you can access if it is going to be comfortable for your horse and give you the right signals to do the job you need it for.

Abbey Bits enjoy an unrivalled reputation for the supply of quality made bits in the UK and overseas, including the Hilary Vernon range.

The Hilary Vernon bit range – Informed Designs is made up of English bits designed and carefully constructed to complement the conformation of the horse’s mouth to improve comfort and communication to promote effective and humane control. The range is inspired by the theory that a comfortable horse will be a more relaxed horse and therefore a less resistant horse.

The range includes: Snaffles, Pelhams, Doubles, Daleheads, Liverpools and Butterflys. A variety of mouthpieces on these cheeks ensure you have a choice to ensure effective bitting for individual horses and ponies.

Abbey Bits are made in the UK and with no minimum order, they are the favoured brand name with leading professional and amateur riders alike, looking for quality and innovation from a supplier specialising in traditional and unusual bits.

With over 200 different bit patterns in stock and the ability to meet demand, Abbey are also able to capture and follow bit trends, supplying specialist bits in a wide variety of sizes.

The vast range includes Snaffles, Gags, Pelhams, Double Bridles, Driving Bits, and Hackamores. Bits are available in various materials including copper, stainless steel, sweet iron, rubber and vulcanite.

Abbey made to measure bits can easily be customised from existing parts and they offer superb comfort and quality. For more information contact Abbey Saddlery on 01565 650343 or visit or

Author: Features Editor

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