The Swales bit has become extremely popular in cob and hunter classes in recent years, but a leading show producer has warned against its overuse.

Jayne Webber, winner of the 2009 supreme horse at Horse of the Year Show, says: “The Swales us a very sharp ‘elevator’ bit, which helps to get the horse to ‘sit-up’. This is especially useful for cobs, which tend to want to go on their forehand.

“They seem to be in fashion, but I only use it as a training bit and, once I’ve got the horse off its forehand, I change into another bit.

“You have to have forgiving hands to use it properly; you have to ride off the leg. In the wrong hands, it can make horses back off the bridle.”

Jayne’s words of warning are supported by judge and exhibitor Lucy Killingbeck, who adds: “I hate to see them so widely use, since a lot of riders just don’t have the hands for it. As a judge, it can be horrible to ride a horse in a Swales which hasn’t been used properly.”

Do you agree with Jayne and Lucy? Send your thoughts to hhletters@ipcmedia.com or join in the debate in the H&H forum