Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Science Behind the Bit

Milo and I got to enjoy a nice long trail ride with my buddy Heather and Milo's girlfriend Missy. The weekend had been beautiful Saturday and Sunday with clear (but cold) skies, making me eager to hit the trail Monday. The weather promised a nice day when I woke up, and remained that way until about halfway through the ride.

I bridled Milo up in the DM Lifter Bit Sarah left for me to borrow. Its a fantasticlly beautiful bit and I was curious how Milo would respond to it (while he got to work in a DM Turbo Lifter at the lesson, this one is mechanically a bit different). From their website (items in bold to emphasize phrases I found particularly interesting):

With a CONVENTIONAL BIT when the rider pulls on the reins, the pull travels through the reins directly to the mouthpiece exerting all of the pressure directly in the horse's mouth. The chinstrap engages as a leverage and directs more pressure to the mouth. This direct pull on the mouth causes the horse to drop his shoulders because it directs him towards the ground.

With the DM LIFTER when the rider pulls on the reins the pull travels through the reins to point where it splits and gets equally distributed between the mouthpiece and the chinstrap. This new leverage creates a clear signal to the horse to break at the poll and raise his shoulders by signaling him to go up instead of towards the ground.

Now, here is the DM Turbo Lifter, this is the one I rode in at the lesson. What is the difference?

The DM TURBO LIFTER works like the Lifter but with a substantial difference: the position of the pivot point: When the rider pulls on the reins the pull travels through the reins in an upward direction toward 2 [the top of shank] starting a rotating motion of the bit. Because of the rotation the mouthpiece and the chinstrap now engages at the same time. Because of the chinstrap position being so high on the jaw, when it engages it stops the mouthpiece almost immediatly from exerting pressure in the mouth.


The substantial difference is that the DM Lifter takes about 50% of the pressure off of the mouth and the DM Turbo Lifter takes about 90% of the pressure off of the mouth. When riding with the DM Lifter bits, the DM Lifter still feel very similar to a conventional bit, but the DM Turbo Lifter fells very smooth and lite in his action.

So after riding Milo in both of these now (however one ride was on the trail), he seemed to respond well to both of them. However, I do feel that I like the Turbo Lifter on him over the regular Lifter, mostly because I feel it gave him more opportunity to soften and break at the poll before more pressure on the mouthpiece (simply, I felt I didnt have to take as much hold on his face - although I was on the trail, which is important to note). I found the DM Turbo Lifter with swivel cheeks for sale for only $56 including shipping (if you check out their website, DM Lifter Bits, you'll see these bits start at $100.). I asked Sarah if it would be a good investment, and she believes it would be especially for the price. She also said this is the bit a few of her students use to show in and the horses love it. Bonus: the DM Lifter and Turbo Lifter are approved to show in most breed and associate shows.
I will be excited to ride in this bit again this evening in the arena and really see what Milo thinks. So far, I can tell that he likes the tongue relief given by the low port (as opposed to the "nutcracker" effect given by broken mouthpieces) and he carries the bit well (not much fussing with it). I will be sure to give further updates and thoughts on this bit as I continue to use it.


Story said...

I admit that I find bits fascinating. The variety is mind blowing. Different materials, mouthpieces, shanks, ratios, weights, angles. In my previous horsely life I probably had a couple dozen different snaffles alone! But when you think about it, every horse is different, so why shouldn't there be just as many different bits? ;)

Rising Rainbow said...

I love the science of bits. It is so fascinating and there is so much to learn. Once when I worked at a tack store I got the opportunity to spend some time with Ron Mylar of Mylar Bits. They have so many options available in their mouth pieces I couldn't hardly get a handle on it until I spent that time with Ron. It sure opened the door to me to what bits are really about.

I'm thinking one of these lifting type bits would have probably been helpful when I was trying to teach Dandy how to lift up his front end after he had EPM.

Anonymous said...

I love bits too! Personally, I would love to buy one of the turbo lifters like this: http://www.dmproducts.net/iTnkso.html mostly because I LOVE the dot look on it. I love the way the bit looks that Im currently using (the first one) jsut because its got that antiquey look and I think its jsut gorgeous, but I think taht the Turbo Lifter would be better for Milo.

Looks aside, I like to thoroughly investigate exactly how a bit works (especially if its going into my horse's mouth!), I find that this teaches me the best way to use it as well. Bits are just a fasinating subject. I love Bosals too and want to learn more, but thats a WHOLE other subject.