The Offset Dee-or-Pie’s Bit Progression

Pie had a significant milestone this past weekend occur, she was officially moved from a “loose ring” snaffle bit to an “offset dee” snaffle bit. Hooray!

The offset dee

the loose ring

The significance of this change is that it means Pie is learning and this allows her to move into a different bit.

Pie was started in a “halfbreed side pull”.

a halfbreed side pull is a unique way to start a horse, as it incorporates “nose pressure”, which the green horse will already know thanks to being halter broke, and also bit pressure in conjunction with the nose pressure. the green horse gradually learns to understand how the nose and bit pressure work together and thus makes the transition of learning what bit pressure means easier on the horse. You can see the bit is a very mild loose ring snaffle.

Pie in her halfbreed sidepull last summer

the next step up, in our program, is the loose ring snaffle. this bit is recognizable by the rings that rotate. The significance of this bit is that the rotation keeps the horse from bracing against the bit, thus promoting relaxation. The ring will also rotate slightly before the bit mouthpiece adds pressure to the mouth, thus allowing it to give more signal than a more fixed bit. These bits come in different thicknesses, depending on the individual horse’s needs. They are also made of different materials, I prefer sweet iron, a metal that “rusts” and produces a sweet taste, thus encouraging salivation and acceptance of the bit. If you go to this link, it will take you to the Reinsman website for loosering snaffles.

Pie in her loosering snaffle

the offset dee introduces a more “fixed” bit. It is still a young horse bit (in western at least) as the dee’s spread pressure from the bit, but the fact the rings don’t rotate starts to gradually introduce the youngster to set cheekpieces, which they will encounter later in their training. I prefer and use sweet iron in this bit as well, but it does come in a variety of thicknesses and mouthpieces to suit individual needs. if you go to the Reinsman website you can see many different types.

Pie in her offset dee this past weekend!

Bits and bitting truly seem to be becoming a lost art form among horsemen and women. There is a progression that is traditionally followed when developing a western horse, from extremely traditional to more conventional and all areas in between.

During clinics given by a friend of mine, he routinely asks participants what is the most “severe” part of a bit? the answers are numerous..but in actuality and truth..the most severe part is the HANDS holding the reins to the bit! ANY bit, no matter how mild, can become harsh when mis-used…and some of the bits labeled as “harsh” by some actually are the sign of a highly trained tuned horse, in the RIGHT hands. 🙂

A good mindset to have is that bits do not fix problems or train horses..they merely make the lines of communication “less static-y” between ourselves and our horses. While we may have a horse, like Pie, who seems very in tune with what we are wanting, if a certain piece of equipment helps them understand better, because we know most horses want very much to please their people, I am ALL for it!


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 01:17:23

    I love this picture of Pie, great angle. As a lay person when it comes to horses, I enjoyed learning about the bits and the reasoning behind them. thanks!


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