How to Measure a Horse Bit Effectively in 5 Easy Steps

Confused about how to measure a horse bit? Your search stops here!

As an equine enthusiast and expert rider, I’m here to tell you the 5 easy steps I’ve discovered.

It starts by finding the correct device positioning it, and then – you guessed it – measuring it (what a breeze!)

In this guide, I’ll let you in on these 5 steps in more detail.

Most importantly – the zeal of my research: the experts I talked to, and the polls I’ve evaluated, all for you to absorb my knowledge and experience.

Keep reading to discover what you’ve been waiting for, longing for, and can’t wait another day for the ultimate guide to measuring their bit!

Key Takeaways

  • Understanding how to measure a horse bit is crucial for a comfortable and functional fit.
  • Different types of bits have different measurement techniques, so it’s important to know the specifics of each type.
  • Custom-made horse bits can provide the best fit for individual horses.

Next up on our journey? Let’s check out the 5 steps…

How to Measure a Horse Bit (5 Easy Steps)

Understanding the correct way to measure a horse bit can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be!

snaffle bit

As a seasoned equestrian, I’m here to show you the 5 simple steps – here they are…

Step 1: Find a Suitable Measuring Device

Begin by identifying a suitable measuring tool.

You have the option of purchasing a commercial device or crafting a makeshift one from a smooth stick or a sturdy piece of string.

If you choose the latter, remember to mark one end as your starting point!

Step 2: Encourage Your Horse to Accept the Device

Gently coax your horse to accept the measuring device into its mouth, ensuring a calm and patient approach to maintain your horse’s trust.

Step 3: Hold the Device in the Horse’s Mouth

Once your horse has accepted the device, hold the marked side at one corner of the horse’s mouth.

Then, with your free hand, make a corresponding mark on the opposite side of the device, lining it up with the horse’s lips.

Step 4: Remove the Device Carefully

Next, carefully take the device out of your horse’s mouth. During this step, make sure you don’t startle or discomfort your horse.

Step 5: Measure the Distance

Finally, measure the distance between your two marks.

This measurement will give you your horse’s bit size. If your measurement happens to fall between standard bit sizes, I suggest going for the larger size to ensure your horse’s comfort.

It’s important to note that every horse is unique. What works best for one horse might not be the best fit for another.

Hence, it’s crucial to select a bit type and size that cater to each horse’s specific needs.

For a helpful video, check out this one:

Horse Bit Measurements (3 Types of Bits)

Equestrian trainer Julie Goodnight provides some insight into this:

“If a bit is too big,” she writes, “or has pressure points that interfere with the horse’s ability to swallow, the horse can’t relax and can’t easily focus on what the rider wants. [3]”

So, it’s important – if not mandatory – to know your horse’s bit size to ensure a comfortable and functional fit.

Let’s explore how to measure the top 3 types of bits effectively for your horse…

Type 1: Loose Ring Cheek Bit

Measurements should be done carefully for Loose Ring Cheeks, such as the popular Neue Schule Team Up.

When measuring the mouthpiece length, place the bit on a flat surface and pull the rings apart to their maximum extent.

The measurement should be taken along the entire length of the mouthpiece from the inside edge of one loose ring to the inside edge of the opposite loose ring.

You can use either inches or centimeters for this measurement.

Regarding the mouthpiece thickness, measure at the widest part near the cheek just before the hole that the ring slides through.

Using a set of calipers for this measurement will provide the most accuracy.

Finally, the loose ring diameter is taken from the inner edge of the loose ring, typically in millimeters, with 70mm being the average for a standard loose ring bit, and 55mm being the typical bridoon ring size.

Type 2: Fixed Cheek Bits

The process is similar for Fixed Cheek bits, including the Baucher or Hanging Cheek, Full Cheek, D Ring, and Eggbutt.

The only difference lies in the measurement of mouthpiece thickness.

The measurement is taken directly adjacent to the cheek for these types of bits.

Type 3: Weymouth Bit

For Weymouth bits, there are additional considerations.

The lower shank length is measured from below the mouthpiece to the bottom of the shank, usually in centimeters.

In the Neue Schule collection, the upper shank length is scaled according to the lower shank length.

Looking for a clever summary? See here…

Measurement/FeatureLoose Ring Cheek BitFixed Cheek BitsWeymouth Bit
Mouthpiece Length 
Mouthpiece Thickness 
Loose Ring Diameter  
Lower Shank Length  
Upper Shank Length  

Please note that the checkmarks indicate the relevant measurements or features for each type of bit.

My Experience

The type of bit you choose can significantly affect your horse’s ability to swallow while cantering, as suggested by an insightful study conducted by J. Manfredi, H.M. Clayton, and F.J. Derksen [2].

In fact, the type of bit “does not inherently impede swallowing during exercise at a canter with the poll in a flexed position. [2]”

And I saw this – In my years as a horse rider, I have understood the paramount importance of a well-fitted bit.

And yes, this isn’t just about comfort for the horse but about ensuring effective communication between horse and rider.

If you go for one that’s too big or small; you’ll cause discomfort and confusion, leading to a less enjoyable ride for both parties.

Over time, I’ve learned to appreciate the subtle differences between various types of bits, such as snaffle bits and cheek bits.

I’ve taken the time to learn how to measure them correctly, which has significantly improved my relationship with my horses.

Horse Bit Types and How to Measure Each One

Before you begin measuring, there are a few things you need to consider.

First, the type of bit you choose will depend on your horse’s mouth conformation and training level.

To understand this better, you might want to read about the different types of bits for horses.

Some breeds of horses, for example, draft horses, require a larger bit size due to their larger mouth conformation.

Second, be aware that different bits will have different standard sizes.

A D-ring snaffle, for instance, will have a different size chart than an eggbutt snaffle or a Weymouth bit.

Lastly, ensure you have the necessary tools for measuring. A piece of string and a flat surface can be used as a homemade measurement device.

If you’re unsure about the process, don’t hesitate to consult with an equine dentist or an experienced rider for guidance.

Essential Factors to Consider Before Measuring

1. Horse Rider

As a horse rider, understanding how to measure a horse bit is part of your journey towards better riding experiences.

rider on a horse with bits but are horse bits cruel

Whether you’re learning how to measure the correct size bit or choosing between a loose ring bit and a fixed cheek bit, the knowledge you gain will greatly enhance your connection with your horse.

2. Breeds of Horses

It’s important to note that different breeds of horses may require different bit sizes.

For example, draft horses generally require larger bits due to their larger mouth conformation.

So, when measuring your horse’s bit size, take into account the breed and its typical mouth size.

3. Horse Owner

As a horse owner, your horse’s comfort should be your top priority.

A correctly sized bit is crucial in ensuring your horse is comfortable and ready to perform.

A well-fitted bit can enhance communication between you and your horse, making your riding experience much more enjoyable.

girl riding a quiet horse

Custom-Made Horse Bit

Bit fitting consultant, Tammy Levasseur, emphasizes the importance of getting a certified bit fitter who can evaluate your horse in person [3].

They’ll ask questions about your current training regime, goals, and any issues you are having, and will observe your horse being ridden in your current bit. [3]”

If standard sizes don’t fit your horse perfectly, consider getting a custom-made horse bit.

These can be tailored to your horse’s exact measurements, ensuring the most comfortable fit possible.

For those with more sensitive horses, exploring soft bits for horses might be beneficial.

On another note, the discussion about the comfort of horse bits often leads to broader concerns about equine welfare.

To further understand this issue, you might find my article Are Bridles Cruel? insightful.

If standard sizes still don’t provide the perfect fit, consider getting a custom-made horse bit from reputable manufacturers like

The Importance of Mouthpiece Diameter

A thinner mouthpiece is generally sharper and may be suitable for horses with a smaller mouth, while a thicker mouthpiece may be more comfortable for a


Why is it important to measure a horse bit correctly?

western tom thumb bit

Proper measurement ensures a comfortable fit for your horse, aiding in effective communication and preventing discomfort or injury.

What tools do I need to measure a horse bit?

You’ll need a soft measuring tape or a piece of string and a ruler to measure the bit accurately.

How often should I measure my horse’s bit?

It’s best to measure whenever you’re fitting a new bit or if your horse shows signs of discomfort. Regular checks can help ensure a perfect fit.


You now know how to measure a horse’s bit – but here’s the short of it…

Whether you’re a dedicated rider, a horse owner, or a total horse fanatic, mastering the art of horse bit measurement is a skill worth its weight in gold.

Remember, knowing how to measure a horse bit correctly and ensuring a well-fitted bit can greatly enhance your communication.

Happy riding!

lady showing how to measure a horse bit effectively


1. Goodnight J. The Different Types Of Bits | Julie Goodnight Academy [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2023 May 21]. Available from:

2. Manfredi J, Clayton H, Derksen F. Effects of different bits and bridles on frequency of induced swallowing in cantering horses. Equine and Comparative Exercise Physiology. 2005;2:241–4.

3. King A. How to Correctly Fit a Bit for Any Horse, in Any Sport [Internet]. Horse Sport. 2019 [cited 2023 May 21]. Available from:

Siun L
Siun L

Siun is an all-around animal lover, with a passion for horses. She grew up in the United States, competing in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Now living in Ireland, she competes with her own showjumping horses. She is experienced in the care and training of horses, as well as teaching riding lessons. She loves to combine her love for horses with her work. When not working, Siun will be found at the stables, rain or shine.
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