Credit: Photo Courtesy of Divine Saddlery
The Dee-Snaffle-Eggbutt-Lightweight Normal Plate Bit from Divine Saddlery’s Winning Tongue Plate Bit line, is considered appropriate for all riding disciplines, including trail riding; it’s available sizes 4.5 to 5.5 inches. (Other bits in the Winning Tongue Plate Bit line are available in sizes 4 to 6 inches.)Description: The Dee-Snaffle-Eggbutt-Lightweight Normal Plate Bit is part of the Winning Tongue Plate Bit line from Divine Saddlery (www.divinesaddlery.com). Like the other bits in the line, it was designed to address several potential problems caused by the traditional snaffle bit.
These problems include joints that can fold too far forward in the mouth and painfully pinch the horse’s tongue, center pieces that lift into the horse’s
mouth and cause painful rubbing, and bit “arms” that fold downward and cause painful side pinching by forcing the tongue’s thinner edges to spread over the bars (the interdental spaces in your horse’s mouth where there are no teeth, where the bit rests).
WTP Bits use a patented, encased joint design to address these issues. The bits’ cog system, which houses the joint, features a 2.5-inch flat surface area. According to the manufacturer’s tests, this surface area reduces bit pressure up to 85 percent over typical jointed snaffles.
The cog system is designed to give the bars limited motion, preventing the arms from folding down and only coming back to a certain point to prevent constant cheek pressure.
In addition, the encased design measures 11 millimeters high (14 millimeters lower than other bit joints), allowing more room between the tongue and the roof of the mouth. This unique design keeps the bit two inches farther back on the tongue than is typical; it slides back on the tongue without folding within the mouth.
The DSEL-NP is considered appropriate for all riding disciplines, including trail riding; it’s available sizes 4.5 to 5.5 inches.
The tester: Pam Federer, a longtime horsewoman and certified riding instructor based in Colorado.
Test results: I tested the DSEL-NP bit with my teenaged Paint Horse, Mister Rhythm. During a recent group trail ride, a friend had noticed that Mister Rhythm was frequently opening his mouth. It’s something I might not have noticed myself, but when I thought about it, I could tell he was tense in his current bit. I was glad to have the opportunity to try this bit to see whether it made a difference.
I examined the DSEL-NP before attaching it to my horse’s bridle. I liked that the center mechanism stopped the snaffle bit from totally collapsing in half. I knew that meant that it wouldn’t collapse around my horse’s tongue.
The bit appeared well made and had smooth connections between the mouthpiece and cheekpiece. When I rotated the bit’s cheekpiece (as the rein would while riding), the hinge felt smooth. It seemed as though it wouldn’t harm my horse’s sensitive lips or allow room for his skin to be pinched.
I also noticed that diameter of the DSEL-NP was thicker than what I had been using. Without being too large for my horse’s mouth, the mouthpiece looked comfortable and as though it wouldn’t harm or cut into my horse’s tongue.
After I attached the bit to the bridle, Mister Rhythm accepted it easily. Once in the saddle, I first rode with light contact. Then I asked for a little more bend and then collection.
My horse seemed comfortable and quiet. He didn’t fiddle with the bit or make noise, as he had done with the previous bit. In fact, I didn’t realize how much noise he’d been making until I tried this bit and paid more attention.
I then realized that during past rides, Mister Rhythm had played with the bit by moving it around in his mouth and by opening his jaws. Also, he’d had a habit of interrupting the ride to scratch his mouth and face with his leg. I linked this behavior to a dislike of the old bit’s feel. With the new bit, this behavior stopped.
My old snaffle was thin and did collapse easily in the middle. Looking back, I could see that Mister Rhythm was avoiding that pressure however possible, while still doing his best to behave.
In the DSEL-NP bit, my horse’s mouth didn’t gape. His neck and poll seemed more relaxed, as well.
Overall, I’m pleased with the DSEL-NP bit. My horse seems more happy and relaxed when I’m in the saddle. I’m looking forward to relaxed rides going forward.
One note: When you order this bit, you’ll send an e-mail to the company so that staff members can help you choose the right bit for your horse. Expect a response within a day.
From The Trail Rider, September/October 2015. For subscription information, go to TrailRiderMag.com.