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HorseChannel's Online Bit Guide: Western Gag Bit

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Western Gag BitDespite the rather offensive name, gag bits can be useful training aids when used appropriately by a rider with skilled hands. The mouthpiece, which can vary greatly in severity, is awarded room to slide up and down the bit rings when the rider pulls back on the reins. If the rider continues to pull, the sliding action of the mouthpiece creates a pulley effect, exerting pressure across the top of the horse’s head through the crownpiece of the headstall. For a gag bit to be both humane and effective, the rider must release rein pressure the moment the horse responds to the rein cue.

  • Though found in the tack room of many training barns, gag bits are not considered legal for many types of western performance disciplines.
  • Gag bits are permitted in barrel racing, where they’re widely popular. The bit’s design allows competitors to quickly rate (adjust) their horse’s speed.
  • Incorrect use of a gag bit can cause a horse to open its mouth, flip its head and rear.

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