Recently my mum sent me over a new bit to try, the WTP normal plate design, that was invented in Australia. I was very intrigued as my mum is not usually one to get excited about new gear.
I read up on the Winning Tongue Plate Bit or WTP, and I was even more interested to try it.
I started looking at my normal snaffle bit, and noticed that I could bend it right back. When I looked at it inside the horses mouth I could see that because it could bend right back, it would bend and hit the roof of the horses mouth. I figured that given the sensitivity of the roof of my own mouth, that must be fairly painful.
I have had real trouble fitting the right bit to Batialo, as he tends to gets his tongue over the bit, and when someone suggested to me “Oh just tighten the nose band”, I just glared at them in horror!
“After extensive research and input from leading trainers and riders the design of the Winning Tongue Plate Bit has proven to overcome many of the problems associated with the pressure and exposed joint of a traditional bit on a horse’s tongue,” says WTB inventor Adrian.
“The signs often demonstrated by horses having issues with their bit include hanging the tongue out, getting the tongue over the bit, or rolling the tongue back. These are signs of bit pain and the horse’s only means of communicating their discomfort. These aren’t the only signs however, some horses many may chew, grind, grab or chomp on the bit because they are trying to hold the bit pressure off their tongue. Some will lean on the rein, hang on one rein, pull the reins through your hands, head toss, run through the bit or bolt, while others will rear and buck to get rid of the pain; or the rider at the end of the reins. Horses will open their mouth to give them more room, enabling them to roll their tongue back or hang it out to escape the bit pain. Others will rub their face on their leg or the rider at the end of the ride in an effort to communicate that the bit has hurt them and they want it removed.”
I have seen MANY of these issues in dressage horses, and thought that this bit was definitely worth a go!
Designed to alleviate bit pain and the associated problems, I found that the fit immediately made a difference to Batialo’s way of going. He stopped the tense chomp that he often did at the walk, and I could put the curb chain on a very loose hole, with a very relaxed or loose nose band setting, and he never once put his tongue over the bit.
I felt that I had more control over his front, and also that he was more available to flex to each side without me incurring any signs of tension.
I really have to say that I definitely advocate introducing this bit into competitive dressage, and hope the FEI will shortly approve this bit as the process is underway!
Dr. Andrew McLean who developed and manages the Australian Equine Behaviour Centre tested the WTP normal plate bits, and says that so far, they find the bit to appear to be comfortable and soft in the horse’s mouth.
“The bits are a nice, simple design which appeals to us as we prioritise the horse’s responses to bit pressure due to the amount of problems that arise from incorrect training and inconsistent or intense bit pressure. Ultimately, all horses should be able to be ridden safely in a snaffle, and the added features of the WTP bit make this particular snaffle a nice option. A bit is only as good as the hands at the other end, however with these bits we have found less resistance in many horses, less oral conflicts, and improved lightness. “ says Dr McLean.