Bit Materials


Bits have been made of just about everything you can think of, some offering economic advantages, other offering ease of care, and some actually providing for the comfort of the horse.

  • STAINLESS STEEL is the most commonly used bit material.  It is an alloy of nickel and iron, and although we think of it as being rust free, some varieties DO rust.  Its big claim to fame when invented was that it retained it sharp edges, and so made excellent knives.  Bit makers started using it because it was manufactured in vast quantities after WWII, and was cheap and easy to clean-in other words, for rider convenience and not horse comfort.
  • SWEET IRON was the most commonly used material prior to WWII, and is still commonly used in Europe and by the Western riding community.   Horses do like its taste, but the rust will discolor the face of a light-colored horse, and the surface becomes rough and pitted with use, making it less comfortable against the horse's tongue and lips over time.
  • NICKEL has been used in bits for decades.  German silver and nickel silver bits do not contain silver, but instead are nickel alloys.  They do not rust, seem to be reasonably well liked by horses, but are more difficult to clean and are also more expensive.
  • COPPER is generally a horse's favorite bit metal, but by itself is weak enough to present a safety issue.  Mixed with other materials, it is a wonderful bit choice.  Two common choices are Aurigan and Kangaroo.
  • RUBBER makes for a very comfortable bit, but needs to be watched carefully for wear.  Although vulcanized rubber will wear more slowly, no rubber bit will last a lifetime and exposure to direct sunlight and/or cold will make the rubber wear more quickly.  Furthermore, rubber presents more friction to the horse's mouth and may cause irritation.
  • PLASTIC is much like rubber, but can be very useful when first bitting young horses.