Not only because of the different cheek pieces, it is difficult to find the right bit. Also a whole lot of different materials are used nowadays. This makes it especially difficult for beginner riders to find the right one, as they are often already overwhelmed by the amount of different bit types. In this blog, we will introduce you to the different materials so it will be easier to make the right decision.
The stainless steel bits are characterized by their high durability. Stainless steel is an alloy to which chromium, nickel, molybdenum, tungsten or other materials are added and which is tasteless. Stainless steel does not rust and is generally very easy to care for. Stainless steel bits vary in weight depending on whether they are made solid or hollow. In the case of stainless steel bits, sharp edges can form over time, which occur particularly at the connection between the mouthpiece and the bit ring. The stainless steel bit should therefore always be closely examined and "felt" by touching them for sharp edges. Worn bits with edges must be replaced.
Bits made of copper are popular with many horses. Copper is quite tough, but also very soft. Often copper is only used as a bit insert in the production of bits and then used in combination with stainless steel or iron. Copper promotes salivation because of its taste or because of the tension interaction with other materials in the bit. Particularly in combination with stainless steel, a microvolt voltage is created, which results in small vibrations that stimulate the horse to chew harder. When using copper bits, careful care is necessary, as bits made of copper wear out faster due to the low hardness of the material. In particular, when using copper bits, care must be taken to ensure that no verdigris (copper acetate) accumulates due to moisture, as this is poisonous for humans and horses. As a preventive measure, copper bits should therefore be cleaned and dried particularly carefully after each use.
The copper alloy brass, which can contain different proportions of zinc, is used for the brass bit. Brass is found primarily in very cheap bits that come from imports. Brass bits are highly resistant to corrosion, but the material is usually quite brittle.
German Silver Bits
German silver bits have a copper content of 60%. In addition to copper, the german silver alloy also contains nickel and zinc. Furthermore, traces of tin, lead and other materials can also be found in german silver. Nickel is also one of the allergy triggers and can also cause allergic reactions in horses. German silver bits on the one hand offer the easy-to-buy characteristics of pure copper bits, but on the other hand are characterized by a similarly high level of wear resistance as stainless steel bits.
The Aurigan bits are a further development of the german silver bits. Aurigan bits have a copper content of 85% and are also absolutely nickel-free. Nickel is now known as a trigger for numerous allergies. Aurigan is an alloy that, in addition to copper, consists of zinc and silicon. Aurigan was developed by Hermann Sprenger, which has also applied for a patent for the material. Aurigan shows better oxidation behavior than pure copper. The silicon used gives the alloy the strength that the raw metal copper otherwise lacks. The durability of aurigan bites has not yet been adequately researched, as this material has not been used for the production of bits for that long.
The new bit material developed by SPRENGER – is the result of additional development and consequently the improvement of our original material, Aurigan. We have built on the success and positive features of Aurigan, specifically the taste and salivation aspects to give an even more delicate and sophisticated connection to the horse. It is the distinctive composition of copper, manganese and zinc that makes SENSOGAN so special. With a reduced copper content the oxidation process is still maintained, however, the extraordinary combination with manganese is what makes the difference. This combination results in a smoother and more regulated process of oxidation. Tests show a very positive infl uence on the horse’s satisfaction, motivation and willingness to perform.
The copper discharge quantity into the horse’s saliva is reduced considerably, which helps to keep the noble white-gold colour for a longer time. The new ingredient manganese on the other hand is an important
micronutrient. As a crucial component and activator of enzymes, manganese is highly relevant for building up connective tissue as well as for the muscle and energy metabolism. It can therefore be helpful in preventing muscle tension and in supporting stress reduction. Beyond that, manganese is needed for the reduction of histamine and can prevent allergic skin reactions. Also, the feed industry discovered manganese to be a promising food additive that is gaining in importance in modern feeding of sport horses.
SENSOGAN® not only has improved properties but also a completely new appearance. Compared to Aurigan, SENSOGAN® tarnishes less and is therefore easier to care for. The white-golden shine is retained longer. All SENSOGAN® bits are marked with a black ring on the side parts.
In the past, the use of iron bits on workhorses was common and widespread. Iron bits are rarely used in classic equestrian sports today. Iron bits are often used by western riders, where they are usually referred to as iron or, in a special alloy, as sweet iron. Iron bits appear unkempt very quickly once the alloy has flaked off. However, horses are very happy to accept iron bits that have developed a certain patina because they have a sweetish taste. There are also the so-called burnished iron bits, which have a deep brown, bluish to black color and are protected from rusting too quickly by the burnishing. The traditional process of burnishing consists of immersion in hot oil. In some cases, chemically burnished iron bits for horses are offered in the trade, although there are still no statements as to whether chemical burnishing poses a health risk to the horses. Iron bits must generally be checked regularly for sharp edges, as iron is a relatively soft material.
The sweet iron bits are made of steel and have a recognizable blue color. Due to contact with (air)moisture, Sweet Iron creates a rustfilm on the surface which has a sweet taste. As a result, the bit naturally encourages saliva production, which leads to more chewing activity and more foam will be built up and thus an overall better acceptance of the bit. The rust process (oxidation) changes the blue colour to a brown-greyish colour, which is the desired effect. After a time of not using the bit, the colour can change to an orange-brown which indicates normal rust that can be easily removed with a wet cloth.
Sweet Iron bits are great and suitable for every horse. Sweet Iron helps to increase the chewing activity, to produce more saliva and to accept the bit more easily. Next to that, Sweet Iron bits have the most options of different types of mouthpieces, as well as types of bits. Therefore, every horse-rider combination can find their suiting bit with the Sweet Iron technology.
The hardness or softness of rubber bits varies depending on the rubber used - a distinction is made here between hard rubber and soft rubber. In general, rubber bits have a relatively short durability. Most of the time, hard rubber is combined with a metal core to increase durability. Nonetheless, rubber bites are chewed through more quickly, become hoarse and become brittle over time. When using rubber bits, it is therefore essential to regularly check the condition of the bit. Particular attention should be paid to the holes for the rings in the rubber, if these are "knocked out", it inevitably leads to sore corners of the horse's mouth. In this case, rubber bit rings can be pulled over the rings for a short time. In horses that play little with the bit or chew little, the use of a rubber bit can lead to the so-called "eraser effect": The horse's mouth is rubbed open by the dry rubber like an eraser. For this reason, rubber bits are only suitable for horses that are generally good at salivating.
The properties of plastic bits depend on the temperature: for example, the plastic bits in the warm mouth of the horse have completely different characteristics than in the cool tack room. Plastic is generally a very smooth material that binds less moisture than rubber. Plastic bits are sometimes offered with taste, which is intended to encourage "clumsy" horses to chew. The durability of plastic bits is by no means unlimited. The so-called Nathe plastic bits - even just Nathe bits - have proven to be particularly robust and are more often found in practice for this reason.
The Inno Sense collection kann be used for all types of horses, but are very suitable for young horses, as well as those that are very sensitive in the mouth. The used material is FDA approved, which indicates that the bits are non-toxic and they do not contain any plasticizers. The Inno Sense bits are available with four different mouth pieces and can be combined with all types of side pieces.
Horses ridden with Inno Sense bits follow the hands more easily and accepting the bit really easily and fast.
Very few riders use leather bits. However, horses generally accept leather bits and are happy to chew on the leather. The use of leather bits can stimulate chewing activity in most horses and promote the flow of saliva. The durability of leather bits is - even with excellent care - rather short compared to most other bits, as leather bits wear out very quickly. With good care, leather bits are very soft and adapt perfectly to the shape of the horse's mouth. In horses that chew only a little, the use of a leather bit can have an even “worse” eraser effect than a rubber bit. Before each use of the leather bit, it should be examined carefully for cracks and bite marks. Before the leather bit is used for the first time, it should be soaked in olive oil for a sufficiently long period of time. Commercially available olive oil should be used to care for the leather teeth. Leather oil has no place in the care of leather bits for horses. The leather bit should also be bathed in oil from time to time so that it retains its suppleness. When purchasing a leather bit, you should make sure that you do not purchase a bit made of so-called chrome leather, as this can have negative effects on the horse's health.