The bit has always been an integral communication aid between horse and rider, but the type, design and shape has evolved enormously, says Emily Bevan
While a limited selection of bits was available in the latter part of the 20th century, today you’ll find thousands of different designs, shapes and sizes on the market, in a wide range of materials.
Bits were originally made from steel before 18/8 stainless steel — which doesn’t rust and is easy to clean, but is colder to the touch — became the most common material. Solid nickel was also frequently used in the past, but it tended to wear badly and is rarely seen now. Instead, other alloys are more in favour, with mouthpieces often boasting a high copper content and better thermal conductivity properties.