Horse & Hound caught up with bitting expert Hilary Vernon recently to discuss typical problems that owners face and how chosing the right bit can help.

In this short video, Hilary explains some of the reasons why horses lean on the bit and what types of bit work best to help minimise the problem.

For more expert bitting advice, don’t miss the full feature in Horse & Hound magazine (12 June, 2014 issue) or download a PDF version here

Hilary explains: “A horse than leans on the bit is quite a common problem. You have to ask yourself, why is the horse leaning? There can be lots of reasons: it could be a training issue; it could be a young horse that still needs to balance itself slightly on the bit; it could be a horse that’s been led to believe it’s allowed to rest out on the bit.

“If you can get the horse to be a little bit more comfortable, that should help. Often a horse will push its face forward into a ‘pinchy’ type of bit, such as a single jointed bit or a bit with a lozenge that closes quite severely. The horse will push forward into the branches of the bit to stop it closing so much. In your hands it feels like the horse is leaning. But if you choose a bit with more of a curve or that is more ‘mouth-friendly’, the horse won’t feel the need to lean into it and will feel considerably lighter in the hand.

“A young horse in training may need something more comfortable in the mouth. A young horse is allowed to go out and balance itself a little on the bit. The rider will then ask the horse to rebalance and lighten in the frame over time.

“In my experience with a horse that’s a bit solid and immobile in the frame, if you get the horse considerably more comfortable in the mouth, you do get a lighter feel on the end of the rein and better flexibility.”