The 2010 western pleasure rules for bits discuss the size, type and shape of each type of bit and which is allowed to be used in western pleasure classes. Aside from the actual design of each bit, there are rules pertaining to which bit can be used for certain classes. For horses older than five years of age, only curb bits are acceptable.
A flexible, braided rawhide or leather bosal (the core of which must be rawhide) are the only permissible hackamores in western pleasure classes. No mechanical hackamores or rigid materials are permitted under the jaw, regardless of how padded or covered they are. The bosal may be no greater than one inch at the nose.
Only O-ring, egg-butt, or D-ring snaffles with rings no larger than for inches are permissible for western pleasure. The inside circumference of the ring must be free of rein, curb or headstall attachments that would provide leverage to the bit.
The mouthpiece of the bit cannot be twisted metal. It must be round and smooth. It can be inlaid, but it must be smooth or latex-wrapped. According to the 4-H Uniform Rules, the mouthpiece must be 5/16 of an inch or greater in diameter and measure one inch in from the cheek, decreasing gradually toward the center. It may consist of one, two or three pieces. If it is three pieces, "a connective ring of 1¼ inch or less in diameter or a connection flat bar of 3/8 inch to ¾ inch (measured top to bottom), which lies flat in the horse’s mouth, is acceptable.”
Curb bits with solid or jointed mouthpieces and shanks that use leverage are accepted. All curb bits must be free of mechanical devices and should be considered standard western bits.
As stated in the 2010 4-H State Horse Show Rules, the standard western bit has a shank no more than 8½ inch in length, measured from the top of the headstall ring to the bottom of the rein ring. Shanks can be either loose or fixed.
The mouthpiece must be round, smooth and untwisted metal of 5/16 to 3/4 inches in diameter, measured one inch from the cheek. They may be inlaid, but smooth or latex-wrapped. Nothing may protrude below the mouthpiece. The mouthpiece may have one, two or three pieces. If it is three pieces, a connective ring of 1¼ inch or less in diameter or a connection flat bar of 3/8 inch to 3/4 inch (measured top to bottom), which lies flat in the horse’s mouth, is acceptable. Mouthpieces such as slip, gag bits, donut and flat polo are not acceptable.
The port height should be a maximum of 3½ inches, with rollers and covers acceptable. Standard bits include jointed mouthpieces, half-breeds, and spades.
Curb bits must use curb chains or straps. They must be at least 1/2-inch wide and lie flat against the jaw when activated.
- Uniform Rules for 4-H Horse Shows. The Ohio State University Extension.2009.0
- Photo Credit horse image by Henryk Olszewski from Fotolia.com
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