On the bit

A horse is said to be “on the bit” when he carries his head in a near-vertical position and he is calmly accepting the rider’s contact on the reins.

A horse on the bit should receive and react to the soft signals given by the rider’s hands:

  • If the rider lengthens the reins or moves his hands forward, the horse should follow by lowering his head and therefore, keep the contact as well as the tension on the reins.
  • If the rider shortens the reins or moves his hands slightly backward, the horse should bring his head up without overbending or losing the tension of the reins.

Regardless of the length of the reins or the neck position, a horse on the bit will always have a light contact with the hands of the rider through the reins, which will remain in tension.

Related terms: Contact

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