Caring for Your Horse Bits

Posted by Green Mountain Horse and Tack on 4th May 2022

Given that most riders have several different bits for different horses or different types of riding, it is not unusual for a tack room to hold hundreds of dollars of different bits. Like anything else, when you take care of something, it lasts longer, and this is true with horse bits as well. Cleaning your bits also gives you the opportunity to inspect it for cracks, weak spots, crustiness and so on. Keeping your bits clean is good for your horse and good for your wallet.

When you purchase a new bit, before you use it, wash it in warm water and a bit of mild dish soap. Rinse it thoroughly after washing. Before you attach it to the bridle, inspect the bridle closely and give the bridle a good conditioning to get natural oils into the leather, especially around the bit loops. Look carefully for cracks in the leather loops as the horse’s saliva can dry out and deteriorate the loops, compromising the integrity of the leather.

Ideally, you should rinse the bit off with clean water and rub off any residue with a towel. It’s a good idea to keep an old toothbrush in your tack box to clean out any joints or hinges on the bit. A little steel wool is also handy to rub off anything stuck on the bit or if it begins to rust in any areas. A little rust does not present a serious issue and some horses enjoy the sweet taste of it. Alternatively, you can toss the bit into the dishwasher and run it through a regular cycle.

If any hinges or joints squeak or stick, use vegetable oil and a Q-tip to loosen them up – don’t use petroleum oil. If you’re trying out someone else’s bit, or lend your bit out to someone, it’s a good idea to sanitize it by putting into boiling water for five minutes or so or soak it in a Listerine-type product.

Bits are often neglected by their owners – they think because they’re steel that they will be fine without occasional maintenance and cleaning. It’s a good idea to make sure to include your bits in your tack and saddle maintenance schedule. It doesn’t take much time, will keep your horse happy and the bit will stay in great shape and last longer.