Bit fit: How many wrinkles?

Last Updated on March 8, 2022 by Allison Price

It is crucial to have the correct fit. A poorly fitting saddle can lead to many problems. It is therefore crucial to be familiar with the correct fit. It is also important to know how to fit the horse’s bridle.

Depending on which type of bridle you have, the most important decision that you need to make is the height of the bit to adjust in the horse’s mouth. You have probably heard of or read about the “rules” for determining the height.

Many people suggest that you judge the proper position of the bit based on the number of wrinkles that appear above the corners of your horse’s mouth after the bit is in. Depending on the school of thought you follow and who you ask, there will be one or two wrinkles. Or maybe you are just betting that one and a quarter!

My students and clients will be aware that I don’t believe in following rigid rules. In general, the answer to this question is It depends.

Understanding allows you to apply your knowledge in a more general way that leads to better decisions. This requires more cognitive effort than following a rule blindly, but produces better results.


The horse’s comfort should be the first thing you think about when it comes to bit adjustment. The bit must be adjusted high enough to not clash with the horse’s incisors. You should also check for wolf teeth and other conformational factors that could affect bit fit.

It may be appropriate to adjust the bit higher, lower or both depending on what bit you choose and its mechanics. A bit that has mobile mouthpieces may need to be placed with their mobility and range in mind. The thickness of the bit could also play a part in your decision-making.

Each horse will have their own preferences. It is a good idea to position the bit low, but without any teeth, and then let the horse decide how the bit should be placed. Horses will accept the bit and place it on their tongues. This is likely to be a suitable height. This position may result in wrinkles or none.

To stabilize the bit, you need to look at the mechanics of the bit. For example, a fixed ring or unjointed jawpiece. It is important to understand how the different parts work.

Horsemen should not adjust the bit to hide evasion or dental problems. If the horse is being too playful with the bit, and you push it as hard as possible, the horse might stop. However that does not mean the horse is happy or that you have solved the problem.

Another important consideration is what communication is most effective with horses – which is, of necessity, the primary purpose for a bit.

Horses learn how to react to the signals of their bit through negative reinforcement. They learn that they can respond to pressure in a specific way (e.g. They learn that if they respond to pressure in a certain way (e.g., by slowing down), the pressure will disappear. They will respond to the pressure again the next time. If the rider does their job well, the pressure will disappear.

We would like the bit to be in its neutral position, i.e. the horse is not being pushed. When the rider is not using it, it applies as little pressure as possible. This is usually achieved by adjusting the bit so it doesn’t pull against the horse’s skin while not being used. Not creating wrinkles. We can ensure that the horse notices even the lightest engagement by the reins by making the neutral state as low pressure as possible. In practice, however, this might mean that we need to consider other factors.

Adjusting a horse’s harness must be done individually, taking into account the horse’s comfort, conformation, preferences and the equipment being used. There is no one rule that will work for all horses.

It is crucial to understand your equipment when making decisions about tack or fit. You can use a basic understanding of contexts to make informed and efficient decisions on each case. This is vital if you want your horse and you to be treated as individuals.

Allison Price
Allison Price

I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!