EARLIER this year, a BSPS judge wrote to H&H, concerned about the use of the Swales 3-in-1 bit in showing and describing it as “an old cavalry jaw-crunching bit”. We find out why it is making something of a comeback

Who uses it?

SHOW rider and producer Danielle Heath has used a Swales 3-in-1 on various horses for the past six years.

“It works well on a big hunter, or a strong horse who leans on the bit. I wouldn’t say it’s ideal for a horse who is sensitive in the mouth or light in the hand,” she explains.

“People say it’s a strong bit, but it’s actually quite plain. With a double bridle, you get a lot of ‘bit’ in the mouth — the Swales is less bulky.”

Danielle’s small hunter Derby Park Dazzle won several small hunter titles in the bit.

“He wasn’t happy with much in his mouth — he preferred this.”

Who else uses it?

ROBOCOB, star of our Lucinda Rides feature (5 October), goes in a Swales bit, as do many other show horses.

“I’ve seen lots of top producers and riders use it, especially with hunters,” says Danielle.

In show jumping, the bit is also popular and has been used by John Popely.

How does it work?

THE Swales is a driving bit, but the 3-in-1 version has been modified to suit riders’ purposes.

“It is quite old-fashioned and has been around for a long time,” says Martyn Welsh, bitting expert at Equiport. “We’ve seen a resurgence in its popularity with show jumpers, who like it because it works well on strong horses, and show producers favour this bit on horses who tend to go overbent, as the Swales doesn’t incorporate any poll pressure in its action. The strength depends on the length of the shank — its main action is through the curb.”

Should I get one?

SEEK advice from your trainer and a bitting expert before trying one.

The Swales 3-in-1 costs around £70.

Contact (tel: 01606 351685) www.equiport.com

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (19 October, ’06)