GO to any race or point-to-point meeting, and you’re quite likely to see a horse run in this unusual contraption, which incorporates a normal looking bit with a thin wire ring that goes in the horse’s mouth and round his chin. We find out what it is, and how it works.

What is the bit?

IT looks almost like a cross between a chifney and a snaffle, but it’s actually called a Dexter ring bit. It appears to be used most often with flat racehorses, but can also be seen on jumpers and pointers.

The nutcracker action of the bit and the metal ring does make the Dexter ring bit strong, and it also comes with or without half-cheeks, which add to the steerability.

Who uses it?

TEOFILO, who won the Group One Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket (racing, 19 October) runs in a Dexter ring bit.

“Teofilo was inclined to hold his bit on the left side in his early two-year-old days when using a regular snaffle,” explains his trainer, Jim Bolger.

“Adrian Taylor, who rides him most days, suggested using the ring bit and straight away Teofilo seemed much happier.”

Teofilo held off Sue Magnier’s Holy Roman Emperor — a horse who also runs in the bit — in the Dewhurst.

Lots of jump horses run in this bit, too, including Cheltenham winners Newmill (Queen Mother Champion Chase) and Native Jack (Sporting Index Cross-Country).

What horses does it suit?

THIS bit seems to be mostly used on stronger horses, as it provides the rider with extra brakes and steering.

“In general, bigger horses are more manoeuvrable in the ring bit because it’s difficult for them to hold it on either side. The ones who take a strong hold are more manageable in it, too,” says Jim Bolger.

What does it cost?

THE bit can be bought from various tackshops and racing equipment specialists. It ranges in price from £14.99 to £70.

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (26 October, ’06)