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Bit Materials Guide

bits nowadays come in a wide variety of shapes and designs. The selection of bit materials is also very diverse. That's why I'm going to introduce you to the bit materials and their specific characteristics that you can find in the range at Picadera . You will also learn how to care for each material properly. Respect for the horse's mouth also includes the correct and regular cleaning of the bit.

Stainless steel bits - the classic

Stainless steel bits are among the best known and most widely used bits in Germany. They are also called stainless steel. Stainless steel is an alloy based on chrome, iron and nickel. The chrome content gives stainless steel bits their typical silver sheen. As the nickel in stainless steel teeth is firmly bound (from a chemical point of view), it is not allergenic. Stainless steel is also used in surgery, for example.

Kimblewick ported mouthpiece  Vaquero  Mullen Mouth  stainless steel at Picadera
A solid stainless steel bit: Kimblewick ported mouthpiece Vaquero Mullen Mouth

bits made of stainless steel are characterised by their particularly high wear resistance and do not rust. The bits can vary greatly in weight, as they are manufactured in both hollow and solid versions. Stainless steel bits are odourless and tasteless and therefore do not additionally promote chewing.

The correct care of the stainless steelbit

bits made of stainless steel are easy to clean. To be able to use your bit for as long as possible, the bit should be washed under clear water after each use and then dried. For heavier soiling, you can also use a commercially available cleaning sponge.

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Copper bits - the sweet copper variety

bits made of copper is becoming increasingly popular. Sweet Copper is a solid material with almost 90 percent copper content. This gives the bit its golden colour.

Baucher bit Fine Line Sweet Copper at Picadera
A bit from Sweet Copper: Baucher bit Fine Line Sweet Copper Picadera-Edition

The Sweet Copper bit has several advantages. Due to the solid copper compound, the bit has a high strength. In addition, Sweet Copper bits is nickel-free and therefore a good alternative for horses with nickel intolerance. The Sweet Copper bit has a sweetish taste, which is why it is well accepted by many horses. The pleasant taste also has a positive influence on chewing and mouth activity. This stimulates the production of saliva. For many horses, increased chewing contributes to general well-being and better permeability.

Sweet Copper has another great feature in practice: this material absorbs heat particularly quickly. This means that in winter it is easier to "pre-warm" it by hand before breaking in sensitive horses.

How to care for a Sweet Copper bit

After training, this material should also be washed off with water and dried. Over time, the copper dentures may tarnish slightly due to oxidation (chemical reaction with oxygen). This is a natural process and not a quality defect. In this case, you can simply polish your bit with a commercial polishing agent. Afterwards, you should carefully clean the bit again under water and dry it.

bits from brass

Brass consists of a combination of copper and zinc. In some cases, additional metals are added. bits made of brass usually have a golden colour, which is why they are often and gladly used in the classic-baroque riding style, as they match the colour of the rest of the equipment very well. Depending on the amount of zinc contained, the colour of the bit changes and can vary quite a lot overall.

Brass bits have a high corrosion resistance and are therefore quite durable.

Baucher bit Baroque  Brass ported mouthpiece at Picadera
A brass bit : Baucher bit Baroque Brass ported mouthpiece

Cleaning & care of the brassbit:

However, brass bits can also become tarnished and lose their shine over time. Therefore you should also polish this bit at regular intervals so that you and your horse can enjoy it for as long as possible. The everyday cleaning of a brass bitbit should be done with water. Afterwards you can dry the bit with a soft cloth.

In addition to the gold-coloured brass bit, there are also bits made of brass which are additionally chrome-plated. The chrome plating gives the bit a silver colour and makes it stand out from the classic brass bit.

Portuguese curb bit Balao  made of chromed brass at Picadera
A bit in chrome-plated brass: Portuguese curb bit Balao Silver

No longer up to date - Golden bits made of Argentan, German Silver or German Silver

An alloy that used to be quite common for bits was Argentan, also called German Silver or German Silver. Nowadays, mainly very inexpensive bits are made from this material. Depending on the composition, these bits have a silver to golden color. However, this alloy contains nickel and can cause allergies in some horses. At Picadera you will therefore not find any bits made of Argentan.

Iron bits - the Sweet Iron variant

bits made of iron have a long tradition and were very often used as bits for workhorses in the past. In Spain, burnished iron is the classic material for making bit bits. Iron bits are also known from western riding. The bit stands out at first sight because of its dark brown to black colour.

Baucher bit Vaquero Mullen Mouth Sweet Iron at Picadera
A bit made of traditional burnished iron: Baucher bit Vaquero Mullen Mouth Sweet Iron

By blackening the bit (traditionally this is done by dipping it in a molten salt), the iron bit receives a slight rust protection and its distinctive colouring. The burnished layer is an extremely thin layer on the iron - i.e. not a coating or alloy - and is not harmful to the horse (otherwise the Iberian horse would probably have died out long ago 😉 ).

Through natural oxidation processes, precious rust forms on the bit, which naturally promotes salivation and chewing of the horse through its sweet taste. This also changes the colour of the mouthpiece over time. The rust that develops is a characteristic and deliberate feature of the traditionally burnished bits.

How to maintain Sweet Iron bit

Sweet Iron bits requires special care. You should not wash the bit after use, but only wipe it dry with a soft cloth. The cloth should then of course be washed regularly.

Occasionally, the Sweet Iron bit should then be given intensive care. I recommend removing coarse dirt with a little water. After drying, the bit can be rubbed with a cloth soaked in olive oil (or another vegetable oil of your choice). This will give the Sweet Iron bit a nice dark shine and delay the formation of rust.

To protect the material, burnished products are also already delivered with a grease film.

Material mix - combining the best

All of the listed bit materials have their advantages. With some of the bits you have the possibility to combine the advantages of the different materials in one bit ( bit ).

Baroque Curb Floral with burnished sides and stainless steel Mullen Mouth mouthpiece  at Picadera
Material mix: Baroque Curb Floral with burnished side pieces and stainless steel Mullen Mouth mouthpiece

You can see the mix of materials at first glance on the curb bit shown in the photo. The side pieces are made of black burnished iron, while the Mullen-Mouth bit is made of stainless steel. This material mix is ideal, for example, if you like the chic, black look of the burnished iron, but your horse gets along better with a stainless steel mouthpiece . This way, neither you nor your horse have to pay any attention to the material mix. This way, neither you nor your horse have to make any compromises - a win-win situation!

The right bit material for your horse

As you can see, each material has certain properties and a characteristic look. There are horses that accept bit more happily when the right material is selected. For example, if the material encourages chewing and makes it easier for the horse to loosen its jaw and neck.

However, it is often the case that the horse does not have a particular preference for the material. In this case, you can decide which bit you find visually most beautiful and which fits best with your equipment.

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The right one for every horse bit

At Picadera you will find bits from many different materials. Here's a small selection of our most popular models:

Fanni Kovács
Fanni Kovács

I am Fanni, the founder and owner of Picadera. For me, my identity as a rider also includes the right, functional equipment. It is not only important to me to find riding equipment that suits my horse and me, but also the process - from the decision for a product to the moment I hold it in my hands. Driven by this, I started at the beginning of 2017 to think about how to improve the situation for riders in Germany and Austria who are interested in Iberian and Baroque riding, as well as Working Equitation. The result is Picadera. If you have any feedback, questions or comments, feel free to drop me a line.

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