Gear Tips

3 Best Bits for Horses with Troubling Tongue Issues

Bitless Bridle
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Written by Nancy G.

Trying to choose a bit got you tongue tied?

Some occasional licking and chewing is one thing; your horse habitually sticking his tongue out is another. If your horse does this, chances are good that part of the problem could be your bit.

Always begin by ruling out any sources of pain or tack-fit issues. Call your vet or an equine dentist to be sure your horse’s mouth is healthy. If everything checks out, try switching to a bit made to alleviate tongue pressure.

When choosing a bit to create tongue relief, avoid single-jointed bits or bits that are thick. Aim for a bit that is thin and multi-jointed or consider using a bitless bridle. Don’t be afraid to work with a trainer to make sure you’re using the bit correctly and not applying too much pressure.

Best Bits for Tongue Relief

Look for bits that offer maximum tongue relief by minimizing bit pressure. It’s not all in the bit, however. If you apply too much or too constant pressure through the reins, even the best bit will still prove too much for your horse’s tongue.

What causes a horse to stick its tongue out?

There are a number of reasons why your horse may stick his tongue out. A few of the most common causes include:

  • Release of endorphins
  • Pain from ill-fitting tack
  • Bit discomfort

One of the three bits in the next table might help.

Category Bit Price Point Key Feature(s)
Best Loose Ring Bit Myler SS Loose Ring with SS French Link Snaffle ~$90-$120
  • loose ring
  • stainless steel
  • thin mouthpiece
Best Ported Bit Bombers Loose Ring Happy Tongue Snaffle ~$90-$120
  • medium port
  • good for large tongues
  • loose ring
Best Bitless Bridle HORZE Genuine Leather Bitless Bridle ~$80-$100
  • horse and cob sizes
  • genuine leather
  • adjustable

Our Top Choices

Myler SS Loose Ring with SS French Link Snaffle

This thin, French link snaffle offers extra control for a strong horse while maximizing tongue space.

myler loose ring

Check out this bit at Amazon

PROS:

  • Thin mouthpiece
  • Multiple joints

CONS:

  • Not all horses like the taste of stainless steel

See it at Amazon

horse rookie guide to jumping

Bomber Loose Ring Happy Tongue Snaffle

This loose ring, medium port bit offers maximum comfort for your horse.

bomber bit

Check out this bit at Eaglewood

PROS:

  • Sweet iron (encourages salivation)
  • Encourages better contact
  • Dressage legal

CONS:

  • Not suitable for inexperienced horses or riders

See it at Eaglewood Equestrian Supplies

HORZE Genuine Leather Bitless Bridle

When in doubt, a bridle with no bit may be the right choice.

bitless bridle

Check out this bit at Amazon

PROS:

  • No bit (zero tongue pressure)
  • Allows for gentle control and clear communication
  • Made from genuine leather

CONS:

  • Not legal for most competitions

See it at Amazon

Want to learn more about bitless riding? Check out this beginner’s guide from trainer Shelby Dennis.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do you stop a horse from putting its tongue over the bit?

Make sure your saddle and bridle fit him well. Then, if he still does this while being tacked or ridden, play around with different bits.

If you have a particular strong horse, check out this article about bit control without cruelty.

Q: Why does my horse keep sticking his tongue out?

Most of the time, it’s due to discomfort. Ill-fitting tack, a bit that applies too much tongue pressure, or even bad riding can factor in.

horse rookie guide to jumping

Q: What is the gentlest bit for a horse?

The gentlest bit will always be no bit. If your horse is having tongue issues, ride in a bitless bridle for a while. Otherwise, stick with simple snaffles (like an Eggbutt) or bits that have a gentle curve.

Q: What is the purpose of a Waterford bit?

A Waterford bit is designed for horses who have learned to brace against the bit, or bite down and push against it. The multiple-link design prevents your horse from doing these things and may encourage them to relax.

Parting Thoughts

Keep in mind that your horse sticking his tongue out is likely a symptom, and not the problem. Take the time to rule out health issues or tack problems before trying new bits. Sometimes, going bitless for a while can help establish clearer communication and make returning to a bit easier.

P.S. Enjoy this article? Trot on over to:

Sources

Is It the Bit? (horseandrider.com)

 
horse rookie guide to jumping
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About the author

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Nancy G.

Nancy loves retraining off the track Thoroughbreds and working with her dogs!