SACHA and her eventer Acapulco were spotted using an unfamiliar bit in Hickstead’s Eventers’ grand prix, 2006. H&H asked Sacha to reveal more about it.

What is it called?

SACHA designed the bit herself, so it does not have an official name.

“The bit was made on the Monday before Hickstead and was a success, so we used it again at Hartpury,” explained Sacha, who had been finding Acapulco “a bit too strong”.

“I am only 5ft 4in, and the horse is 17hh. This bit turns me into a 6ft rider,” she said.

It combines a Happy Mouth double-jointed (lozenge) mouthpiece, which came from a three-ring gag bit, with the sides (or cheek-pieces) of an elevator bit. Sacha’s boyfriend welded the two together to form a custom-made bit.

How does it work?

BEFORE she began using this combination of two bits, Sacha rode Acapulco in a three-ring gag. She found she did not have enough control, although Acapulco had seemed to like the Happy Mouth mouthpiece.

The new bit has a similar action to the gag, but with more leverage and control.

“The length of the elevator cheek-pieces provides some extra poll pressure,” said Sacha.

Why does Acapulco wear pieces of sheepskin on his bridle?

WHILE some show jumpers use pieces of sheepskin to give a “blinker” effect, Sacha uses them on Acapulco purely to prevent the bridle from rubbing.

How do I get a custom-made bit?

COMBINING two bits, as Sacha did, is not common practice. Only very experienced or professional riders should opt for a bit like this. But in the right hands, it can work.

The elevator, while still in production, is an old-fashioned bit and is not widely used. It costs
around £60.

A custom-made bit, made for you by a specialist bit maker, would cost around £160. Contact bit specialist Culmer Drees (tel: 07886 261548).

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (31 August, ’06)