How to Properly Measure for a Bit


Using a correctly fitted bit can make all the difference when it comes to riding.

Too small and it could pinch your horse’s mouth or lips. Too big and it could cause discomfort or not sit properly in his mouth.

You’ll find that by using a bit that fits just right, it’ll be much easier to help your horse learn the different rein aids. Read on to learn a few different ways you can measure properly for a bit.

If you have any concerns or questions about your horse, talk to your vet or equine dentist—or even a stable manager—to discuss your needs.

How to Properly Measure for a Bit

There are a few things to look for when checking to see if the bit you have fits your horse. It should not pinch the corners of the mouth and there should be ¼ to ½ an inch visible on either side of the mouth. In addition, it should not press tightly against the sides of your horse’s face.

Different types of bits fit differently as well. It’s important to note that pelhams, elevator bits, and full cheek snaffles will fit a little more snugly compared to loose rings and other snaffle bits.

Bit width is also an important factor when choosing the correct bit for you horse. Generally speaking, for most horses the thinner the bit, the harsher it is. This is because the pressure is being displaced over a smaller surface area. A wider bit is softer because the area where it applies pressure is larger.

With these factors in mind, here are a few ways to figure out the correct sizing for your horse:

  1. Measure an Old Bit: This is probably the simplest way to get the correct sizing of a bit: using one you already know fits! Once you measure the bit, you can easily shop with the correct sizing in mind.
  2. Use a piece of string: Cut a piece of string approximately 12” long. Tie a knot at one end as a marker, then lay the piece of string in your horse’s mouth like a bit would sit. Once the knot is lying at one corner of the mouth, mark the other side with a piece of tape and measure the length to find out what bit size you would need.
  3. Use a soft measuring tape: You can also use the same procedure as you would with the string but with a soft, flexible sewing measuring tape instead.


Choosing the right bit size doesn’t need to be complicated, but it is a critical factor since training your horse often relies on the use of a bit, and a properly fitted bit can be the difference between a horse in pain and one that’s comfortable and able to learn. Follow the steps above and you shouldn’t have any trouble finding the right size.

Have any other tips for getting the right bit size? Share them with us below!

Leave your comment