Myler Mullen Barrel Snaffle Bit

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The combination of traditional design with innovative features makes the Myler Mullen Barrel Snaffle Bit intriguing. Myler’s Inc. is a family business that designs and manufaturers custom bits. This particular bit, number WD-01 (western dee ring with their 01 mouthpiece), is available “off the shelf” through Toklat Originals, which distributes a number of Myler bits. Nearly every feature of this bit can be customized.

Description: Our Myler snaffle has a 5” wide mouth and is of medium thickness (7/16”). Any width from miniature horse (3 1/4”) to draft (up to 8”) is available, as are thinner and fatter mouthpieces. Our rings are 2 1/2” in diameter; 1 1/4” and 3” diameters are available in the custom line. The elongated attachments of mouthpiece to rings are smoothly finished and will prevent pinching. English style dee rings, as well as loose rings and full cheeks, are also available.

Materials: The mouthpiece bars of our bit are made of sweet iron, which is steel that will oxidize with time. The sweet iron encourages salivation (more than stainless steel does), as do the exactingly crafted copper inlays on the tongue surfaces. Most horses should be comfortable with the taste of this bit. Our bit looks just like stainless steel because it has been highly polished, but with time the bars will darken. The surface oxidation (also known as rust) will not progress to the point of compromising the strength of the bit, unless we mistreat it by stashing it away in a wet environment and leaving it for years!

If you prefer (or your show ring customs dictate) a shiny mouthpiece, Myler’s also makes this bit with a stainless-steel mouthpiece. Our bit’s rings are stainless steel, as is the center mouthpiece barrel and all its internal moving parts, which will not rust. If you wonder which shiny metal is which while shopping at your local tack shop, take along a magnet from your refrigerator. Sweet iron will hold the magnet but stainless steel will not.

Action: The mouthpiece bars are curved. The Mylers suggest that this design allows the horse to swallow more easily than with traditional styles. While we wouldn’t want to use any bit strongly enough to give the horse difficulty swallowing, a firm, steady pressure could have this result. The tongue does need to be able to rise for the horse to swallow (if you hold your own tongue down while you swallow, you’ll understand).

The traditional logic of this curved bar shape is that the bit conforms to the horse’s tongue and lower jaw. If you study the photo of this bit, or look at any snaffle type bit in the horse’s mouth, the curves actually lie along rather than around the horse’s tongue. To get the bit to lie around the tongue the bridle headstall would have to be fixed at a more forward place on the ring. (Other designs by the Mylers include headstall attachment dees that do just that.)

The horses we tried this bit on were comfortable with the action of the curved shape. We know that the action of curved bars is milder than that of straight bars because straight bars concentrate the pressure over less area. The barrel in the center of the mouthpiece makes the bit double jointed, which adds to its mildness and comfort by curving closed rather than scissoring closed, as our single-jointed, relatively straight snaffle mouthpieces do.

There is no chance of the center of this mouthpiece poking the roof of the mouth as might happen with a single jointed snaffle that was positioned, by horse head carriage or rider hand position, at an extreme angle. The decreased angle of action prompted the Mylers to give this bit its Mullen descriptor, though we usually reserve this term for bits without center joints.

The barrel also allows the mouthpiece bars to rotate independently. The Mylers call this Independent Side Movement. Each half of the mouthpiece rotates like a ball-and-socket joint inside the barrel. With a traditional snaffle, the rider can lift on one ring and create upward action on that side of the horse’s mouth. This design, however, makes the signal potentially clearer. The bit is advertised to help lift the horse’s shoulder on one side and help him move straighter.

Warnings: The mouthpiece ends narrow significantly at the barrel and then fatten out again inside the barrel. We checked these mouthpiece-to-barrel attachments carefully for potential pinching action and don’t believe the horse’s tongue can get pinched. We would, however, routinely inspect the bars at their smallest diameter (at the barrel edges), since this could be the weakest part of the bit.

Uses: The comfort and mildness of this bit make it ideal for youngsters and retraining prospects. The bit is advertised to help with horses that drop their (usually inside) shoulder or move in a crooked fashion. We experienced the lifting action, and it worked as a reminder. We’ll continue to use training exercises as the long-term solution.

Legality: This bit is not legal in some show circles, so check the rules for your discipline.

Availability: $85. Toklat Originals, Inc., 888/286-5528. Myler’s Inc., 800/354-3613.

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Click here to view ”Myler In The English World.”