Myler Shanked Ported Barrel Bit

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Myler’s Inc. calls this particular bit an MB-33 — a shanked ported barrel. This is one of their most popular curbs.

Description
Our bit is sized for an average 5” wide mouth, and the mouthpiece is of medium thickness at 7/16” (other widths and mouthpieces are available). Our bit measures 7” from inside the headstall ring to the reins. The shanks (from bit to reins) are 5 1/4”, making it a medium-shank bit. These shanks are flat (custom shanks are available).

The elongated attachments of mouthpiece to shanks are smoothly finished and will prevent pinching at the corners of the horse’s mouth.

The curb strap and headstall share a ring on this bit. We generally prefer a separate curb ring because it allows the curb strap to hang lower on the jaw without the possibility of pinching the corner of the lips between the strap and bit mouthpiece. However, the purchase (length above mouthpiece) is long enough that pinching is unlikely. The curb strap hangs high on the jaw: If you and your horse are comfortable with this fit, then this arrangement works well.

The mouthpiece bars are curved forward, which allows the bit to rest along the surface of the horse’s tongue, conform to the shape of his lower jaw, and fit easily between his lips. The shape of this mouthpiece should prove comfortable for most horses. The port is moderately low. It should transfer some rein pressure to the lips from the tongue during use. The important test is whether your horse is comfortable with this action. It is relatively mild.

Materials
The mouthpiece bars of our bit are made of sweet iron — steel that will oxidize with time. Sweet iron encourages salivation (over stainless steel), as do the exactingly crafted copper inlays on the tongue surfaces of the mouthpiece. Horses should be comfortable with the taste. Our mouthpiece looks like stainless steel because it has been polished, but the bars will eventually darken.

When shopping for a bit, you can use a magnet to differentiate sweet iron from stainless steel or aluminum. Sweet iron will hold the magnet while the others won’t.

Myler’s assures us that the surface oxidation (also known as rust) will not progress under normal working conditions to the point of compromising the strength of the bit. If you prefer a shiny mouthpiece, Myler’s will provide this bit with a stainless-steel mouthpiece.

Our bit’s shanks and purchase are stainless steel, as is the center mouthpiece barrel and all its internal moving parts — so these will keep their shine.

Action
The barrel in the center of the mouthpiece makes the bit double jointed, which adds to its comfort. The double joint won’t poke the roof of the horse’s mouth, while a single-joint might. Instead, the mouthpiece closes slightly, similar to a double-jointed snaffle (no leverage) bit. The port is not high enough to impact the roof of the average horse’s mouth.

When the reins are used, the horse may keep the bit lying across his tongue by flexing at the poll. If he pokes his nose, the bit will rotate and apply both downward and squeezing pressure to the lips and tongue. The port is designed to apply less tongue pressure, and more lip pressure, than a straighter mouthpiece. Our test horses were comfortable with the fit and action of this mouthpiece.

Jointed curb bits we have used in the past have a disadvantage: The curb strap does not work well. The limited angle of closing of this bit (due to the design of the barrel) ensures that the curb strap works efficiently and clearly. If you watch a single-jointed curb bit (like the Tom Thumb) when rein pressure is applied, you’ll see the bit close inward and the curb strap loosen as a result. Either it is necessary to shorten the curb strap, or the shanks will move further back than the typical 45 degrees when the reins are used. Some riders are comfortable with the loose curb/shank movement choice. Here, though, the limited angle of closing makes the curb strap work close to the way it was designed.

We consider a shanked bit to be appropriate to horses with significant training — horses that work off our legs and neck rein well. While not excessive, the shank length of this bit isn’t necessary for some of our horses. Shorter shanks are fine.

The barrel design in the center of this mouthpiece 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. The bit is said to help lift the horse’s shoulder on one side and help him move in a more balanced manner.

Normally, we would be wary of this claim because this shank movement typically levers the purchase uncomfortably and confusingly into horse’s cheek on that side. However, other innovative features of this bit are that the purchase rings curve away from the horse’s cheeks and that each side’s shank and purchase move independently (both rotate 45 degrees). The shank and purchase motion is the result of a patented bushing found in the Myler’s bits. We found it difficult to get this bit’s headstall rings to poke the horse when we used one rein — and we are impressed.

If you occasionally use a slight leading rein to encourage your horse’s nose toward the inside, you’ll appreciate the 45-degree outward rotation of the shank without purchase twist, also.

Warnings
The mouthpiece bars narrow significantly at the barrel edge 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 narrowest diameter could be the weakest part of the bit. Myler’s has not seen any problems with wear or rust, but they will inspect any of their bits for you for the cost of postage if you have any questions.

Uses
While we’ll continue to teach neck reining in a snaffle or bosal, we do find this bit gives us the ability to communicate relatively clearly, for a curb, with one or the other side of the horse’s mouth. Our inside leading/opening rein works better with this bit than with any curb we have used, and we do need this occasionally as a bending reminder. We’ll continue to use training as the long-term solution for dropped inside shoulders, but this bit does allow a more snaffle-like indirect rein to be used.

Legality
The shanks are of commonly acceptable competition length, but check the rules of your organization about the mouthpiece.

Availability
This bit may be ordered from the manufacturer for $155. Their Z-33 (which we didn’t test) has the mouthpiece features of this bit but not the independent purchase-shank rotation ($120).

Contact Your Local Tack Store or: Myler’s Inc., 800/354-3613 or Toklat Originals, Inc., 888/286-5528. www.toklat.com.

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”Foaming At The Mouth”