Hey there Dressage Queen! I see you out there working hard every day and honestly, you’re killing it. You’ve been planning for your upcoming show all year and your hard work is finally paying off. You’re showing up to all your lessons, studying the elusive inside leg to outside rein, and spending way too much time planning your perfect show outfit. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy dressing their horse up as a Barbie doll? Your riding is finally coming together and you couldn’t be happier. The judge doesn’t even know what’s waiting for them after your X halt salute.
And then one day as you’re scrolling social media, you keep seeing this USEF Annex A article on your feed. You click on it and see the headline in all red letters, Effective Immediately – USEF Bit Changes 2022.
You start sweating and emotionally pump yourself to open the article. You’re sifting through the information, and honestly, it’s not looking too bad. There are some adjustments here or there, but nothing too crazy. That’s when you see it, and your stomach drops. Listed next to your beloved french link bit is a giant red X, NOT LEGAL.
Well, this is it, the end is officially near. You vividly remember the last time you tried new bits; it was nothing short of a disaster. Until you found the french link, your rides were a combination of head tossing, bracing, and stiffness. Your rides ended in tears. The french link was a crucial part of your training and the idea of hunting for a new bit makes you want to run and hide.
Luckily, there are a couple of options. First option, you can blindly try new bits which will only frustrate you, your horse, and your wallet. Or, you can continue reading the Equine Outfitters LLC comprehensive guide to picking the perfect dressage legal snaffle bit for your horse.
Here at Equine Outfitters LLC, we hold one of the largest bit banks with over 900 options to choose from. With this guide, you will have immediate access to the current dressage bit rules and alternative options. This blog will have embedded links to the dressage legal bits on our website to ensure you find the right fit.
Disclaimer – This article is up to date with USEF Annex A updated Jun 23, 2022. Please consult the rule book for live updates and changes.
French Link Dressage Bit Still Legal?
First I want to go over why USEF is removing the French Link. It’s a staple for so many barns and lots of horses go well in it. What is the reasoning behind this decision?
The reason the french link is not dressage legal anymore is because of the bit’s action. You see, when the bit lays in the horse’s mouth without contact, the flat center part of the bit rests on the horse’s tongue. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, the problem is when pressure is applied. Under rein contact, the bit turns to a 45-degree angle. This causes the bottom edge of the bit to dig into the horse’s tongue and roof of the mouth.
X-ray observations confirmed this theory. It was after the discovery that they opted to remove french link mouthpieces from eventing and standard dressage effective December 1, 2022.
While this may be a shocking change to many, we have a fantastic secondary option for you to try. We handpicked the Fager John Sweet Iron loose ring bit to be your go-to french link replacement. This bit also has a thinner center link which makes it the closest to mimicking the action of the french link. The main difference is the center is shaped like a bead instead of a flat plate. With the lozenge being rounded, the sensation is softer in the horse’s mouth while keeping a similar action. Other standard lozenge bits have a larger piece in the middle, which might not work well for horses used to the thinner french link. This is why we recommend the Fager John lozenge bit as a fantastic option!
USEF Dressage Bit Rules 2022
With all the rules in dressage, it can be pretty hard to remember every tiny detail. With new bits hitting the market daily, knowing the guidelines is the only way to ensure your equipment is legal. To make the bit shopping experience simpler, here is a comprehensive list of all the dressage snaffle bit rules.
Snaffle bits are defined as bits without leverage, meaning the rein connects at the same level as the mouth and bit rings. The reins are able to move freely and without restriction around the bit ring. Snaffles come in several forms of smooth mouthpieces, bit rings, and sizes. Below is your simplified guide to the current USEF dressage bit rules.
- Snaffles can only be of smooth materials. Twists, keys or sharp edges are not legal.
- Snaffle bits can be solid, have one joint in the middle, or be double-jointed in the center.
- If the mouthpiece allows tongue relief, the greatest deviation in height is 30 mm from the lowest part of the tongue to the highest part of the bit. This is only for single or double-jointed snaffles, not ported bits.
- Snaffles come in a variety of rings. The legal bit rings are loose rings, eggbutt, D ring, full cheek, and bauchers.
- The snaffle bit material must be a type of metal, synthetic material or flexible rubber.
- Leather, added latex or other materials are not allowed.
- Snaffles must be a minimum diameter of 10 mm. There are two exceptions to this rule. For Young Horse and Children’s classes, the bit must be a minimum diameter of 12mm. For ponies, the diameter may be less than 10mm diameter for any age rider.
Dressage Legal Bits 2022
Now that we understand the current rules and have a solution for the french link liquidation, we can breathe for a moment.
Remember, we are horse people. We are ambitious, strong, and like to be informed. Though the three-piece lozenge is a great option if you liked the french link, it’s possible you’re wanting to explore other options. Maybe your horse is sensitive in the mouth and you want to ensure you’re using the softest possible bit. Or you have the opposite problem and your horse is quite strong.
Picking a new bit is a daunting task, and we want to make your experience as seamless as possible. If you open any catalog, you’ll see pages upon pages of available bits. Rarely are there detailed descriptions or a single mention of the bit legality.
Can you say information overload?
Knowledge is power, so that’s why we put together a guide just for you. Below are six wonderful options for dressage legal snaffle bits available at Equine Outfitters LLC. If you like one of the bits, feel free to click on the embedded link to take you to that bit’s product page.
Dressage Legal Bits for Sensitive Horses
Sensitive horses are wonderful to train. They pay close attention to aids and their surroundings, which can also make them prone to anxiety. The sensitive horse benefits from a softer touch that allows them to seek the bit. We have three bits recommended for the softer, more sensitive types of horses.
For a horse that is busy-minded and craves simplicity, we suggest the Trust Inno Sense Medium Port loose ring. This anatomically shaped mullen mouth bit is basic and gentle, making it a perfect fit for a wide variety of horses. Being a solid mouthpiece, the benefits are that it’s very comfortable for the horse to carry and there is no risk of pinching anywhere in the mouth. Additionally with the loose ring you’re still able to achieve sensitivity to the rein aids. This is a great option for green horses that are learning contact and trust, and for finished horses that prefer a gentle touch.
The second bit we recommend is the Fager Maria Titanium bit. This bit is a double-jointed mouthpiece with stabilizing eggbutt rings. Its anatomical curve ensures a completely smooth bit that distributes pressure along the lips and tongue evenly. The benefit of this bit is that it’s uncomplicated, comfortable, and very soft for the sensitive horse.
The Happy Mouth Copper Roller bit is also a fantastic bit for delicate horses. The firm plastic is more forgiving than a traditional stainless steel bit. This encourages calmness for the sensitive horse. This bit also has a copper roller which promotes salivation. This bit is also slightly bigger in diameter, meaning that it’s softer due to extra surface area. If your horse has trouble taking the contact forward, we would recommend this happy mouth bit.
Dressage Legal Bits for Strong Horses
Strong horses are wonderful due to the power they have. When you can harness it, it’s an incredible feeling. Choosing the right bit for this caliber of horses is crucial to your horse’s training. You want to enhance their rideability while keeping the forward momentum. To help ride these incredible horses, we have three fantastic bits available at Equine Outfitters LLC.
The first option is the Fager Sally Titanium Loose Ring Baucher. Due to the hanging cheek nature, the baucher acts similarly as a cross between an eggbutt and a full cheek bit. The fixed cheeks help to create stability in the mouth and prevent the bit from sliding through. Contrary to popular belief, the baucher does not provide a pivot point and therefore does not create poll pressure or leverage. This Fager bit is lightweight, has a copper roller to encourage salivation, and is great for horses with low pallets and fleshy lips. Because of the stabilizing nature of the baucher, this is great for horses that need assistance turning and for horses who appreciate a quiet bit in their mouth.
The next bit recommended for stronger horses is the Neue Schule Verbindend. The Verbindend is a double-jointed bit with anatomical curvature. The main purpose is to encourage softening and ease of turning. Combined with the loose ring, the sliding rings make it difficult for the horse to pull on the bit. The Verbidend is also known for encouraging clarity of aids and responsiveness from the horse. We like this option for stronger horses needing assistance with turning, softening in the jaw, and staying supple.
The last bit we would recommend is a simple German Silver single jointed baucher bit. Single joints are great for horses that revert against tongue pressure. The action of this bit resides on the bars (lips) of the horse’s mouth and the baucher cheek helps with turning support. This bit is also a smooth silver which encourages softening and salivation, making the jaw suppler to the bit. This is a great option for heavier horses that dislike tongue pressure and need help softening. We do want to mention this bit can have a nutcracker action if there is too much downward pressure. Because of this, we recommend this for confident riders with educated hands.
With the rise and fall of the French Link snaffle, our goal at Equine Outfitters LLC is to streamline your bit shopping experience. Having one of the largest online bit vaults , we understand how overwhelming it can be to find a new bit. With this guide, you now understand why the french link is being dismissed, what the updated dressage rules are, and great bitting alternatives.
If you ever need further assistance, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.