The Easy to Gait Freedom bit was not invented in a classroom or lab. It is a product of my real life, gaited horse, training experience. I’ve come to realize that good bitting allows the horse to respond to training. The manner in which the bit communicates to the horse must be humane for the long term health of the horses.
I used the Easy to Gait Freedom bit in numerous clinics on several breeds of gaited horses across America. With proper training, each and every horse relaxed and gaited comfortably with more confidence. Developing a calm mind in relation to your horse’s mouth, back, and feet are the keys to proper training for your long term pleasure and trail riding enjoyment. When all aspects of motion from the horse’s mouth, feet, and back interact and support each other, you have what I call the Triangle of Motion.
After working with thousands of horse owners over the years, the one constant problem that continues to stand out is bitting or mouthing a horse. Care, caution, consideration, and communication are the bitting standards that I keep in mind when looking at the anatomy of the horse’s mouth. I also consider the horse’s back and feet as it relates to bitting. Remember, the back, feet and mouth all combine for the total picture of success no matter what you’re trying to achieve with your gaited horse. Interestingly, bitting a horse still requires as much attention today as it did a hundred years ago.
When considering a horse’s mouth anatomy, most bit makers consider the following pressure points: tongue, bars, poll, nose, lips, hard palate and chin groove. This traditional thinking is good and has served most bit manufacturers well, however; there are other important areas of consideration.
For example, the temporo-mandibular joint (TMJ or jaw) coupled with the hyoid bones are directly related to each other and contribute substantially to the bitting process. The hyoid bones help control the horse’s feet, shoulders and mental well being. The TMJ interacts with the hyoid to control relaxation in the jaw.
When the horse’s jaw (TMJ) is pried open with too much force from leverage bits (shanks), non-leverage bits (snaffles) or pain from other ill-fitting pressure points, it’s my opinion that your horse’s mind will go into protection mode. Let me say this another way: the tongue is connected to the hyoid bones that attach to the sternum and shoulder so if you have too much tension or pressure on the tongue, the horse evades contact. The horse cannot raise its withers or back and use other muscling group systems for ease of gaiting.
More importantly, we need to understand that the first step to happen in this chain of events is the mind because it must send a message to relax the TMJ. This also allows the poll to release the muscle behind the ears which activates the hyoid bone to start the tongue moving. Bitting will always relate back to the mind as a series of many coordinating actions.
Keeping the TMJ relaxed allows the tongue to move more freely, helps keep the horse’s mind calm and allows communication to take place. My philosophy is that before the horse can move his tongue, the horse must relax his TMJ.
Trying to bit a horse while considering only one pressure point will lead to bitting and behavioral problems. For instance, if you’re just going to consider the bars of the mouth and overlook the remaining pressure points, you will certainly cause evasion to be expressed elsewhere.
Oral conformation is another area not often discussed. The horse oral cavity means how much room is in the horse’s mouth. Each horse is different in the size and shape of the inside of their mouth which impacts bit diameter size, length of bit, swallowing, thick or thin tongue, flat or arched palate and how the horse moves his tongue inside the mouth to accommodate the bit or protect him.
This leads to the question, where is the horse’s mind during all of this mouth movement? As the trainer, you must relax the horse’s mind, that is, the TMJ, to communicate with the horse. A horse that is not relaxed is very difficult to train, and when seeking calmness, all noted pressure points must be taken into consideration. Just like baking a cake, it takes all the ingredients. One or two ingredients left out--you’ll have a cake but you may not like the taste.
All horses have different mental and bitting pressure points and these concerns are different for each horse. This is why bitting is tricky--unlocking the different pressure points to accept bitting coupled with correct contact. We want the horse working on the bit and accepting the bit--not the bit working against the horse’s mind because of impolite hands forced upon the horse’s mouth.
All horses are individual with different personalities and considerations in bitting and contact. We now have added the word “contact.” How much pressure or how little pressure in the mouth? There is no simple answer. Bitting is a total relationship that must be unlocked with each individual horse and rider combination. Riders train horses—bits don’t train horses. It takes an equal amount of balance, both mental and physical, to develop a calm, willing mind that enhances your horse’s ability to accept the bit along with the rider seat-leg-hand contact.
All horses are programmed by nature to protect themselves and are mentally made up of pain, fear, muscle tone, and excitability. These emotions are related to and found at the TMJ and directly tied to your horse’s behavior. The mouth is extremely sensitive, and any fear or pain from the bit or rigidity in the jaw will be reflected back to the rider through excitability and muscle tone which then causes saddle fit problems. Always remember, your horse’s heart and soul is in his mouth.
If your bitting system is working humanely and properly, your horse will be comfortable in his mouth, and therefore, in his mind. Bitting starts and ends with the mind, and your end goal should always be a calm mind. A calm mind draws the whole horse together into the Triangle of Motion—mouth, back and feet to provide a smooth and comfortable ride.
The Easy to Gait Freedom bitting system and Lady Lite Saddle have been successful because both are designed to consider the horse’s point of view first.
The Freedom Bit is made of stainless steel with a popular sweet iron mouthpiece. The Freedom Bits mouthpiece will slowly oxidize and turn to a rusty color when placed in the horse's mouth. This action helps the horse to salivate keeping the mouth moist, allowing the horse to accept the bit with confidence. The life of all metal bits are subject to weather conditions, errosion, and frequent horse training use. The damage caused by the horse grabbing the bit, chomping, excessive force biting, can changes to the bits original design. Every bit should be inspected for signs of damage before, during,, and after the ride, and should not be used for any reason, if the animals mouthing action has altered the bit.
The Freedom Bit is warranted for workmanship for life with normal equine use.
Gary Lane Enterprises, LLC, and National Bridle assumes no responsibiliity or liability for injury or harm to humans, animmals, property or any other expenses associated with this product. All equine activities have inherent risks associated with them.