The bit is a most important part of the harness, and upon its appropriate selection and accurate adjustment much depends. Every horse should be carefully fitted with the bit most suitable for him if he is to do his work with comfort and to give his driver pleasure and his owner satisfaction. The kind of bit required chiefly depends upon the character of the horse's mouth and his temperament, and is also largely influenced by the quality of the horseman's hands and his control of temper. The experienced horseman speedily recognizes when the bit is unsuitable, and takes the first opportunity to make a change, repeating this if necessary until the most suitable is obtained. Whatever kind of bit is used it should be of a width and size corresponding with the horse's mouth, and should be adjusted to hang free in the mouth just below the angles, which should not be compressed by it. Many horses go best in a snaffle, and for these there is a wide range for selection, from the plain and easy snaffle (fig. 586) to the twisted snaffle (fig. 588) and the powerful chain (fig. 587). Others are better suited by a curb bit, as the Pelham (fig. 589), or by a double bridle, as the Weymouth (fig. 590), each of which may be easy or punishing, according to the mouth-piece, the length of the cheek-bars, and the adjustment of the curb. The easiest bit is the plain snaffle. The guard-bit, with revolving mouth-piece (fig. 591), is also a very humane bit, and by many preferred to the Liverpool sliding-bit (fig. 592).
Fig. 586. - Plain and Easy Snaffle.
Fig. 587. - Chain Snaffle.
Fig. 588. - Twisted Snaffle.
Fig. 589. - Pelham Bit.
Fig. 590. - Double Bridle. The Weymouth.
The advantage of good "hands" cannot be too strongly insisted upon.
Fig. 591. - Guard Bit.
Fig. 592. - Liverpool Bit.
Many a puller has been made, and many a high-spirited horse spoiled, by the irritation of a heavy, unsympathetic, uncultivated hand.