Mouthpieces with ports allow tongue room, which will be more comfortable for the horse and allow it to swallow. In the Western Riding tradition, correctly fitted ported bits are designed to use gentle, isolated applications of palate pressure to encourage the horse to break at the poll. However, Western riders do not maintain a contact like their English counterparts, so none of the English style bits in the Myler range have ports which will go near a normal horse’s palate, they are just designed to give tongue relief.
Pelhams have two reins, the top rein activates direct pressure on the mouth and the bottom rein utilises leverage pressure with a curb chain and gives a little poll pressure.
This bit has a D-shaped cheek with a curb chain for increased leverage and a small purchase (the ring to which the headpiece is attached) to give poll pressure. The cheek has different options for positioning the rein. If the upper slot is used, the bit will have a direct action, if the lower rein slot is used, it results in leverage and curb pressure through the curb chain.
Gags exert backward and downward pressure to the mouth, before downward pressure is applied to the poll. Some gags work via a sliding pulley system, connecting the reins directly to the headstall through the cheek. Others utilise a sliding shank on a cheek ring.
A bitless bridle, the hackamore uses the same principles as a leverage bit but works off the nose rather than the horse’s mouth. As well as acting on the nose, curb and poll, a hackamore should be fitted so as to restrict the horse’s breathing when pressure is applied by the rider. For this reason it is not a good option for a style of riding where a constant rein contact is applied.
Various designs of combination bit are available. The definition normally encompasses a bit with features of both shank and ring style bits, sometimes also with hackamore action. Arguably, this can include Pelhams, Kimblewicks and Gags. The Myler Combination Bit, however, is a hybrid of the bit and the hackamore, combining mouthpiece, shank, ring cheek, curb and noseband to utilise the pressure areas of the nose, curb, poll and mouth. Because the pressure exerted by the rider is dispersed between the various points, the Myler Combination Bit offers an extremely humane communication tool.
Whilst a thin mouthpiece will exert relatively more concentrated pressure over its smaller area, a thick mouthpiece is not necessarily kinder for the horse because of limited capacity in the mouth.
Mouthpieces can be made of various metals, rubber, and even plastics. Whilst rubber and plastic are obviously softer and less cold, they can catch and drag a dry lip and need to be replaced more often than metal. Stainless steel, whilst being strong, comparatively cheap and smart, has little taste and can dry some horse’s mouths. Copper encourages salivation which aids a soft mouth, but copper is expensive and soft and so an alloy of copper, Sweet Iron, is often used as it combines the advantages of copper with none of the disadvantages.
Most English style Myler Bit mouthpieces are made of stainless steel, but there are small strips of copper inserted at each corner to encourage salivation. Exceptions are the Loose Ring Comfort Snaffles and the Combination Bit mouthpieces, which are all made from Sweet Iron (these also have the copper inserts).
Myler Snaffle bits are unusual in being able to take a curb chain, attached with J-hooks or quick-release hooks to the small holes at the top of the cheeks. Snaffle curb chains lie far higher up the horse’s jaw than the curb chain found on a Pelham or Kimblewick.
The bit works by causing pressure on various points on the horse’s mouth and/or head as the rider pulls on the reins.
With the correct bit; adequate training; and competent riding, the rider is able to communicate effectively with his much larger and stronger partner.
Most bits work largely off a horse’s tongue, creating a backward and downward pressure into the tongue when pressure is exerted on the reins. Many bits can only act on the part of the tongue which sticks up above the top of the bars. Jointed bits, however, can drive downwards into the centre of the tongue way past the level of the bars.
To get an idea of how this feels: put the tip of your finger onto the centre of your tongue and press down with just a little pressure. Now try walking around for a few minutes while still pressing on your tongue. Try and swallow. NOW imagine replacing your finger with a pound of cold steel and replacing the pressure with the full body-weight of a rider standing in their stirrups and hauling on the reins.
Horses produce around 6 gallons of saliva a day, salivating at the highest rates when exercising strenuously (eg. being ridden). Horse’s tongues are just like ours, they must twist and elevate in order to swallow. If the bit is pulled hard onto the horse’s tongue by the rider, he will not be able to swallow.
The horse will seek relief from the tongue pressure, and ideally will relax at the poll and bring his head down onto the vertical (the front of his face at a 90oangle to the ground). When the horse responds in this way, the rider ideally responds straight back, releasing the pressure on the reins and allowing the horse to work in a “Comfort Zone”. In practice, however, inadequate rider knowledge or skill and poor bit design will often not give the horse enough tongue relief even if he does come onto the vertical, so he will continue to resist and evade the action of the bit.
In addition, if a horse is constantly working against the rein pressure on his tongue, he builds up tension through his entire lower neck. This will lead to the horse overdeveloping muscles in the underside of his neck as opposed to his top line, weakening his entire action, giving him a poor appearance and making it harder for him to relax at the poll and come onto the vertical in the first place.
Bits act on the bars with backwards and downwards pressure on the top of the bars, or inward pressure on the sides of the bars, depending on the mouthpiece. Whilst the horse is generally more tolerant of bar pressure than tongue pressure, the bars can be bruised and damaged permanently, so the tongue is the best buffer to use in a young horse needing more rein aids.
Poll pressure is exerted when the bit cheek is designed to give a little leverage. Poll pressure will release endorphins which have a calming, analgesic effect. Most horses therefore respond well to poll pressure, which encourages them to break at the poll.
Curb Pressure from double bridles, Pelhams and Kimblewicks acts upwards and forwards against the chin groove where the mandible nerve is located, and will encourage the horse to break at the poll. Too tight a chain will cause its over-engagement without using the pressure points of the mouth, thereby causing unnecessary pain to the horse. Too loose a curb chain causes the mouthpiece to roll too far forward before it becomes effective.
With a Myler snaffle, the curb chain sits far higher up the back of the horse’s jaw (see section 20). The chain will help the bit remain stable in the horse’s mouth, it provides another point of pressure and encourages the horse not only to break at the poll but also to “roll over from the withers” ie. round his back and neck for the optimum working position.
Most bits, when no pressure is exerted by the rider, lie directly on the surface of the tongue and bars, and so a thick heavy bit can be uncomfortable even without rein pressure.
Traditionally-jointed bits can catch the tongue in the joint, even making it bleed in extreme cases. There is also no limit to their degree of collapse, so they “nutcracker” in onto the outside of the lips and bars.
Bit design can lead to the horse receiving confusing signals: If a rider is trying to lift a shoulder or work on a stiff side, the rein signal will be partially carried through to the other side of the bit, either because the mouthpiece is solid, or because the joint rings can lock. With a single jointed snaffle, the rider can be giving the correct aid to the horse to lift his shoulder, whilst the bit design causes the joint to lock and the centre of the bit to drive down into the middle of the horse’s tongue. This results in “miscommunication” or contradictory signals from rider to horse.
Myler Bits are designed to avoid many of these problems. They are comparatively thin, so the horse has less to accommodate in his mouth. All the mouthpieces are curved and many are ported to allow greater tongue room, and most cheeks have the facility, with the hooks (see Section 19), to stand the bit up in the horse’s mouth so it doesn’t lie on the tongue and bars unless actively pulled there by the rider.
There is a wide variety of mouthpiece shapes to suit different mouth structures. The centre barrel acts as a safe, comfortable sleeve over the patented bushing system which allows each side of the mouthpiece to be activated independently, thus avoiding miscommunication. The barrel also restricts the degree of collapse of jointed mouthpieces, giving them more of a wrap feel rather than a nutcracker effect.
Myler Bits will only be really effective as a training aid if the rider is as responsive to the horse as he wants the horse to be to him, - firstly in selecting the most appropriate bit for his horse and secondly in the way he rides it.
Myler Bits are more forgiving for novice riders than traditional bits as they are shaped to fit the horse’s mouth and have a no-pinch action. However, they will only work to full effect if a horse is allowed some freedom for his tongue when working correctly into the bridle. Tongue pressure is applied as a command but the pressure must be released when the horse has responded correctly, or there is no reward and therefore no incentive to learn.
Myler mouthpieces are all curved to fit around the tongue and to meet the outside of the bars and lips at a more sympathetic angle. A centre barrel restricts the degree of collapse, giving jointed bits a wrapping rather than a nutcracker action on the bars and lips.
The barrel also gives Independent Side Movement which allows the rider to give a much clearer signal to the horse. This only works to its full potential when using a cheek with hooks to fix the position of the headstall and reins on the cheek ring. Use of the hooks also ensures that the bit is held off the tongue unless actively pulled onto it by the rider and this again is part of the reward process.
Every bit is a combination of a mouthpiece and a cheekpiece. Myler Bits offer numerous cheeks to complement their mouthpieces. When choosing a bit for your horse, first consider the mouthpiece and then match it with the cheek that will suit both your needs and those of the horse.
Cheeks are available in rings and shanks. Rings are usually considered to give direct action, (where all pressure exerted by the rider goes directly into the horse’s mouth at the angle of pull), whilst shanks are used for leverage. Leverage means that when the reins are pulled upwards and backwards by the rider, the mouthpiece rolls downwards and backwards in the mouth while downward pressure is exerted on the poll. Leverage also maximises the effect of Independent Side Action.
However, Myler Bits offer hooks on rings (see Section 19), as well as combination bits (see Section 18), both of which allow ring bits to operate in a similar way to leverage bits.
Whilst the choice of mouthpiece has to be made on the basis of the horse’s mouth anatomy, level of training and disposition; the cheek selection depends on the rider (and sometimes the discipline.) If the rider’s hands are sympathetic and relaxed, he can look to a wider choice of cheeks, including those offering a considerable degree of leverage. A rider with quicker or heavier hands, however, should be wary of a leverage cheek, as this will accentuate the effect of his hands to the detriment of the horse.
STARTING A HORSE IN A MYLER BIT
- FITTING AND TRANSITIONING -
The height of the purchase is different in every bit, so before you try a new bit on your horse, attach it to the bridle and hold it up to the side of his face, so you can estimate the correct adjustment of the cheek pieces as closely as possible.
The bit should fit snugly into the corners of the lips, normally making one wrinkle, but do check how it lies inside the horse’s mouth. If you pull down lightly on the bit cheeks, there should not be a gap of more than1/8" between the mouthpiece and the corners of the lips. If the cheek pieces bow out, this is also a sign that the bit is too low..
Ensure the bit is both level and central in the horse’s mouth, there now should be between1/8and ¼" gap between the bit ring and the horse’s lip on each side. (You may have to straighten the mouthpiece to assess this properly in a jointed bit by pulling the cheeks gently outwards.)
If the bit is too wide, it will slide from side to side in the mouth and give uneven pressure when engaged by the rider. An over-wide jointed bit could hang too low in the mouth and interfere with the horse’s incisors.
If the bit is too narrow, the cheeks will squash against the sides of the horse’s face and lips, causing rubbing or pinching.
See Section 22 for information on how to measure your horse’s bit size.
Flashes, Martingales, etc.
The entire point of The Myler System is to make the horse comfortable and relaxed in his bit, so there is no need for any gadgets designed purely to force the horse to endure an uncomfortable bit by strapping his mouth shut, holding his head down, etc. Such equipment also infringes the horse’s ability to communicate with you. Therefore, a plain loosely fitted cavesson noseband is normally the most that should be required besides the headstall and reins, especially as you should be in a controlled environment while you accustom your horse to the new bit.
Loose Ring Cheeks
Take care to ensure there is a good ¼" gap between the rings and the sides of the horse’s face or the lips could be drawn into the ring hole in the mouthpiece and pinched.
Cheeked and Ring Snaffles
Check that the upstand of the cheek doesn’t rub against the side of the horse’s face. Full cheeked snaffles should have a leather bit keeper attaching the top of the cheek to
the cheekpiece. This holds the bit up in the horse’s mouth to give a clear reward signal and is also critical for ISM.
Cheeks with Hooks (slots)
The top hook should always be used. This holds the bit up in the horse’s mouth to give a clear reward signal and enables ISM.
In order to balance the bit correctly, the cheek pieces must be fastened around the outside branch of the upper hook, leaving the metal on the inside branch against the horse’s face and giving the bit a “normal" appearance from the side.
To make the ISM as effective as possible, the reins should be attached to the bottom hook, again around the outer branch.
Pelhams and Kimblewicks
The curb chain should be fitted at 45oand should engage when the cheek has been rotated to about a 450angle, normally around 2 fingers width. If it is fitted too loosely the mouthpiece can roll too far down into the tongue before the curb activates too late and too hard, possibly upsetting your horse and not giving you the control you need. If it is fitted too tightly, the horse will never get relief from the pressure, he will have no comfort zone and will be unhappy and distracted.
Starting a Horse in a Myler Combination Bit
Please see Section 18.
TAKE YOUR TIME. Sometimes a horse will let you know that you have the right or wrong bit in as little as 20 minutes, but it often takes a few sessions in a new bit to know for sure. Plan up to 10 or 12 days before you can be certain that you have made the correct choice and make sure this is a quiet time for you and your horse, with no competitions or big outings.
GIVE YOUR HORSE TIME. Allow your horse to get used to the taste and the feel of the new bit, let him test this new equipment before you mount. Ensure the fitting is correct and then allow him to investigate the bit with his tongue. He may chew a bit more than normal while he gets used to the new feel. Ideally, allow him to stand bridled but loose in the stable, supervised but not held, with the reins tucked behind the stirrup leathers, for 10 or 15 minutes so he can settle down and relax.
The next step is to simulate the bit’s action prior to mounting so the horse can anticipate how the bit will work. This exercise also allows you to anticipate his behaviour with the bit. In the stable, or enclosed school, stand by his left shoulder and place the reins over his neck as if you were going to mount. Hold both reins just in front of the withers to mimic where the reins would be when mounted. Next, steady the
reins in one hand and gently apply rein pressure with the other, activating the bit and asking your horse to relax at the poll. When he gives to the pressure by “nodding" his head onto the vertical, release the pressure with your hand. He may take a few steps backwards or forwards until he gets used to the idea but you are aiming for him gently to lower his head onto the vertical, releasing his own pressure and learning where the “Comfort Zone" is. This is a great way to introduce new bits as well as to supple a horse prior to work every day. The Mylers highly recommend working with your horse on the ground as part of the transition to any new bit and as a daily suppling exercise.
Ensure your horse is in a safe environment before you mount and then walk away on a loose rein for a few minutes. Slowly, slowly take up a light contact and walk round the area quietly while you both become accustomed to the feel of the new bit. When you feel the horse is ready to come into the bridle, just close your fingers on the reins, ask the horse to move forward with your seat and leg and when he gives to you, coming into the bridle, release the rein pressure immediately by opening your fingers and maintain only a very light contact to ensure he recognises the reward. Any new equipment or training approach should be introduced in a safe environment like a school, until you are confident that both are ready to work outside.
Anticipate some resistance. If your horse has been resistant in his current bit, there is a strong likelihood he will be resistant in his new bit. Simply put - he is going to try what he knows and some evasions will have become learnt habit rather than direct reactions to his bit.
Chomping and chewing: This may take some patience on your part and some trust on your horse’s part. Horses generally chomp and chew as a resistance to too much tongue pressure. With your new Myler Bit, he should not have as much tongue pressure as before, but it may take your horse some time to realise this. He will need to build trust that his new bit isn’t going to restrict his tongue like his previous one did. So, give your horse time to learn to relax - this may take days. Be sure you are releasing the pressure when he is in the correct position. If you are constantly applying pressure on his mouth, he may not be able to relax.
Inverting: Inversion is fairly common. The main thing your horse is doing is controlling the application of the bit’s action by staying up out of the “pressure zone". Your new bit should give the pressure you need to ask him to relax at the poll and come into his “comfort zone" where he will have the relief he’s looking for. Many horses will try to invert with the new bit - you will need to ask the horse to go forward and apply consistent pressure until they relax at the poll. As soon as the horse relaxes at the poll, release the rein pressure. Always ask the horse to go forward. Some horses may resist by stopping, flipping their head, grabbing the bit, etc., but always ask him to go forward.
Leverage and curb pressure can be very helpful for horses that invert by clearly rolling the mouthpiece downwards and introducing new points of pressure, eg curb and poll, so use of the hooks is recommended to maximise this. The occasional use of a
curb chain on a snaffle bit can also be useful. Be sure your curb strap or chain is adjusted properly with room for only two fingers. Too loose and the cheek rotates too far around before engaging the curb chain. The curb chain activates too late and too hard, possibly upsetting your horse and not giving you the control you are looking for. Too tight and the horse is not rewarded with a comfort zone and is uncomfortable and distracted. When adjusted correctly, the curb chain engages when the cheek has been rotated approximately 45o, adding more downward pressure to the mouthpiece, and offering more control and encouragement for the horse to relax at the poll and stay balanced.
Because an inverted horse is not used to working while relaxed at the poll, he will tire quickly and easily. Keep sessions short and always finish on a good note where the horse releases himself.
Horse Behind the Bit: Horses typically hide behind the bit because mouthpiece pressure is too strong or applied to too wide an area. Your new Myler Bit should offer less pressure, but the horse will need transition time to learn to trust this. Give him time and make sure you release properly when he is relaxed at the poll. If you do not release, he will not experience the “comfort zone" while relaxed at the poll and will continue to curl up behind the bit.
Not Stopping, or Pulling: Horses that don’t stop well or that pull are resisting by putting their own pressure into the bit to control it. Your new Myler Bit should give you the pressure you need for control and correction whilst also providing the relief and “comfort zone" to keep your horse happy and help him learn. Introduce your horse to the new bit slowly so that he can learn to trust having a “comfort zone." Use pressure as necessary for control, but be sure to reward your horse by releasing rein pressure when he stops as asked. Your horse should get lighter and less resistant with time, but he may have a lot of 'baggage' to get rid of, so don't be in any kind of a hurry if you want to do this well.
Dropping a Shoulder: Horses generally drop a shoulder for two main reasons: laziness or anxiety. Horses usually take the easy route and will cheat you on a corner by leaning in - it’s less work than staying straight! At other times, they know their job so well that they try to be better at it than you want, – for instance when a jumper runs through a turn towards his next jump. He is too anxious and starts to lean on the inside shoulder too much and risks loosing his balance, the turn and valuable time. Your new Myler Bit should help you send a signal to keep his shoulder up - Independent Side Movement is perfect for this.
When using Independent Side Movement, you will isolate one side of the bit, lift subtly with that side and not affect the other. It works best supported by an inside leg aid for turns, bending and balancing.
Myler Bits with Independent Side Movement are simpler and clearer in their signalling than traditional bits, so you should find your horse responds well to this new, unambiguous communication.
As a rider, you may find Independent Side Movement requires some adjustment in your riding technique. You may find you can be much more subtle in your actions as you ask your horse to bend or lift up his shoulder. The need to reward your horse by releasing the pressure the instant he has done as he has been asked cannot be over-emphasised.
To get the best out of your Myler Bit (and your horse):
- Take it slowly and quietly.
- Listen to your horse, he is trying to tell you what he needs in order to do what you want.
- No bit makes up for bad riding or impatience and a bit cannot train your horse. That's your job, - just make sure you have the best equipment and knowledge to communicate with him effectively.
- Have fun, or there's no point!
- Understand what the bit, - and your hands on the ends of the reins, - are doing in your horse's mouth. - Think about what is going on with that tongue:
HOOKS ON MYLER BIT CHEEKS
Most Myler Bit Cheeks are available with hooks, (like slots), to fix the
position of the bridle and the reins on the cheek ring of the bit and to allow Independent Side Movement.
The top hooks are situated just in front of the small holes at the top of the cheek rings. These are for the cheek pieces and do precisely what the fulmer, or full cheek does, when used, (as it was designed to be), with leather keepers. They stabilise the bit inside the horse’s mouth and hold it off the tongue when pressure is not being applied by the rider, allowing for a much clearer signal and reward. The hooks also allow a little pressure to be applied to the poll (which is known to release endorphins).
When used, the rein hook allows the rider to get more leverage, exerting pressure on the tongue as the bit was designed to do, - but more efficiently, - so less pressure is necessary. In this way, the backward pressure on the horse’s mouth is less severe and less prolonged. Use of the rein hook gives total ISM and increases the proportion of pressure going to the poll.
The hooks, therefore, allow the bit to be used as it was designed to be, but more effectively, more gently, and with instant release for the horse as soon as it does what has been asked of it (provided, of course, that the rider relaxes the contact).
This should also help the rider to have quieter hands.
The difference can be demonstrated by putting a plain eggbutt Myler snaffle onto one bridle and the same mouthpiece but on an eggbutt cheek with hooks onto another, and comparing the way each bit hangs. The snaffle on the plain cheek would clearly lie on the horse’s tongue, the snaffle on the cheek with hooks hangs almost at right angles to the tongue.
In order to balance the bit correctly, the cheek pieces must be fastened around the outside branch of the upper hook, leaving the metal on the inside branch against the horse’s face and giving the bit a “normal” appearance from the side.
To make the ISM as effective as possible, the reins should be attached to the bottom hook, again around the outer branch.
With Mylers' Full Cheek Bits that only have one hook, it is important to use a bit keeper to secure the position of the headstall and give all the advantages outlined above.
MYLER COMBINATION BITS
Unique in design, and one of the kindest bits available, the Myler’s Combination Bit is a hybrid of a ring bit, shank bit and Hackamore. The design features a large centre ring to support the mouthpiece, a top ring for the headstall and a bottom ring for the reins. The distance between the top and bottom rings determines the amount of leverage, with the short and long shank combination at opposite ends of this scale and the medium or 3-ring combination giving a choice of rein options.
The lightweight mouthpiece slides freely on the centre ring until the degree of rotation brings it up against the ring stop. A rawhide-covered rope noseband and curb strap are linked together and run through two small offset rings on the purchase.
The Myler Combination Bit is not a hackamore nor a hackamore combination. The fit of both the noseband and jaw strap is higher, with the noseband set above the nostrils, so it cannot restrict the horse’s airway. The noseband and jaw strap are fitted snugly, but not tight, against the horse’s face, so the action of the bit is smooth and efficient.
Utilising various pressure points, Myler Combination Bits offer simultaneous interaction of the mouthpiece, curb strap and noseband. When rein pressure is applied, the Myler Combination Bit exerts pressure on the horse’s nose, poll and jaw (ie only 33% of the total in each area.) If the rider continues to apply rein pressure, the mouthpiece will meet the ‘stop’ on the ring and start to engage, whereupon the total pressure applied by the rider will be dispersed over 5 areas – the nose, poll, jaw, tongue and bars (ie 20% in each.)
The pressure exerted on the horse’s nose, jaw and poll are extremely effective at getting the horse to relax at the poll and “roll over from the withers”, to hold a rounded outline.
Myler Combination Bits are available with all levels of mouthpieces, from Comfort Snaffles to Ported Barrels. Because all pressure areas engage and release at the same time, the horse is offered a pressure-free reward whenever he is light and relaxed at the poll, (providing, of course, that the rider relaxes his hand.) This makes the Myler Combination an excellent training tool, for horses ranging from youngsters to well-schooled campaigners.
All Myler Combination Bit mouthpieces are made from Sweet Iron which will corrode gradually over time giving a taste that the horse will love.
The Myler Combination Bit is particularly suitable as the first bit for a young horse or pony, which will be used to head pressure signals from being led in a head collar. It can also be a great bit for horses who are very nervous in the mouth; ex-racehorses who have been trained to “run into their mouths” and are reluctant to come into a schooled-horse outline; and older horses who think they know it all and will benefit from a very different feel in the communication they receive from the rider.
Many professional event riders find the Myler Combination invaluable to get the horse relaxed and going as softly as possible and working well off the other aids, before they replace it with a permitted bit for their dressage test.
Preparing Your Myler Combination Bit
Along with the cord knots either side of it, the rawhide nosepiece’s hard and knobbly surface is part of the signalling mechanism, but it can be shaped to the individual horse’s face by soaking in warm water until it is pliable. It will then set in this customised shape as it dries. If the nose is very sensitive, the shaped nosepiece can be wound with a thin layer of vet wrap, but it should never be encased in sheepskin or similarly altered.
Attaching the Myler Combination Bit to Your Bridle
Remove your existing noseband from your bridle and attach your cheek pieces to the top of the purchase (the part which is angled out from the horse’s face to avoid rubbing.) The purchase on a Myler Combination is much longer than that on an ordinary bit, so you may need to make extra holes in your headpiece, or change the cheekpieces for a smaller size.
Before you bridle your horse, ensure that the combination’s jaw strap is opened as far as possible to allow the maximum room for correct, controlled fitting. (Be careful not to loose the metal keepers on the jaw strap when doing this.)
Fit the mouthpiece as normal (see Section 17). Position the rawhide nose piece high on the horse’s nose, so it doesn’t interfere with the horse’s breathing in any way. – It must lie on the nose bone above the nasal cartilage but must not be fitted so high that it rubs the projecting cheek bones. No additional noseband is needed.
Transitioning Your Horse into his Myler Combination Bit
It is very important to take your time to transition your horse into any new bit but particularly vital if it is a Myler Combination Bit because it will feel so different to the horse.
Please see Section 17. With the Myler Combination Bit, you have 2 things to show the horse, so transition him into the mouthpiece first, leaving the nosestrap on the loosest fitting, until he has 'given' once or twice. When showing him the effect of the nose, jaw and poll pressure, do ensure that you tighten the jaw strap very gradually, hole by hole over a few minutes, so the horse has plenty of time to get used to the totally new action of the bit. Ensure that the nose strap remains high on the nose throughout (if necessary use string or tape to support it from the headpiece or cheek pieces, until it is tight enough to stay up on its own).
The horse will instantly cause himself pressure on the face if he demonstrates any of the usual evasions (eg. head up, mouth open, etc.) and time and care must be taken to make sure he learns the new “rules” without frightening himself.
Be very careful not to pull on the reins when leading or mounting the horse and to move off with an extra-light hand when riding with the Myler Combination Bit for the first time.
Tightness and Readjustment
For a correct fit, the jaw strap must be adjusted until it is possible to fit only the tip of your little finger under the hide nosepiece. This will need to be checked several times during the first few rides and then each time you ride subsequently, because the leather and the cord stretch. You may need to make extra holes in the jaw strap to ensure the right fit.
When removing the combination, it is vital to release the jaw strap completely, so that when the horse opens his mouth to release the mouthpiece, he doesn’t cause himself pressure against the partially opened jaw and nose strap.
Care of Your Myler Combination Bit
Like any piece of equipment, care should be taken to fit the combination correctly and to check its fit and condition on a daily basis. Further details are provided in the swing ticket on each new bit and every retailer has been trained to advise on its correct fit and use.
The mouthpiece should be wiped down after used to ensure the corrosion of the sweet iron takes place evenly and gradually. The cord may be wiped gently with a damp cloth and the curb strap cleaned like any other leather strap.