Okay, I admit it, there is no one bit for that works best for every gaited horse. However, I am going to list a few bits that I like and I am going to talk about why the bit doesn’t really matter too much in the end, except for the horse’s comfort.
First off, let me say that you can train any gaited horse to gait in a snaffle or bitless bridle. You do not need a shanked bit. However, they can be good reasons to ride a horse in shanked bit, but not to get a good gait.
Also, I want to mention that a snaffle is only a bit with no leverage. If the bit has any kind of shanks, it is not a snaffle.
Okay, now that I have got that off my chest… 🙂
For the last couple of years, I have been using the Gary Lane Freedom snaffle, which I liked pretty well. You could use it as a simple snaffle or get the smallest bit of leverage if you clipped it to the reins. I still use this bit on occasion, but last fall I had the opportunity to try a new bit which has totally blown me away in how well it works and how much horses seem to love it.
The Rockin’ S Raised Snaffle
I recently heard about this bit, created by Mark Rashid. Since I bought the bit in September, I have been able to use in on almost 2 dozen different horses. Most of the horses seemed to really prefer this bit over their own. Some even had dramatic changes like going from only pacing with their head high to gaiting with their head low in 5 minutes!
So, the Rockin’ S Raised (ported) Snaffle is the bit I like the best at the moment.
However, as long as your horse is comfortable with the bit you have, I am not urging you to buy a new bit. I will say that many horses do not like bits with a single joint for the mouthpiece. When you pull back on both reins, the middle of the joint can poke the top of their mouth, causing them to raise their head. This is the opposite effect of what we want.
I encourage everyone to pay attention to their horse. He may or may not actually like the bit that he has. Don’t just use a bit because that is what he was used to before. If you can borrow bits from friends or fellow boarders, try as many as you can and find one that your horse seems to like.
I have seen dramatic changes when changing from one snaffle bit to another, from a single jointed bit to a french link kind of mouthpiece.
With the Rockin’ S Snaffle, I have seen horses go from tossing their heads, to being comfortable carrying a bit, start gaiting in one session, and give vertical flexion without any resistance.