Having the correct tack in the hunter ring is important. If you show up in the wrong type of bridle or bit it could be detrimental or even cause you to be eliminated from your class. It is important to know which tack, bridle and bit are permissible.
Which Bits Are Permitted
Before you step into the ring understand which bits are permitted. Review your rule book for the show you are attending to make certain the bit and bridle you are using is permitted. For example the USEF for the Hunter outlines in Subchater Hu-4 Attire, Tack and Equipment states:
“Regulation snaffles, pelhams and full bridles, all with cavesson nose bands, are recommended.
A judge may penalize for non-conventional types of bits or nosebands.”
This means that you could be penalized for an unconventional type of bit.
The AQHA goes in depth to describe what bits are permitted in English performance classes:
In all English classes, an English snaffle (no shank), kimberwick,
pelham and/or full bridle (with two reins), all with cavesson
nosebands and plain leather brow bands must be used.
And even offers diagrams of acceptable and unacceptable bits. See page 136 of AQHA Show Rules
Equine Canada also has requirements regarding permissible bits.
The bridle may be double, pelham, single (snaffle) or kimberwick. It must be leather (not rubber covered), rolled or plain and may be buckled, sewn or studded (not snapped).
All bits must be humane in nature. Snaffle bits may be with or without
cheeks. Wire snaffle bits, either single or double are permissible. It is permissible
to use a snaffle with fixed slots for cheek pieces and/or reins. Bit
guards are not permissible.
What is not permissible
Unusual bits or bits used to harm a horse are frowned upon and could cost you a placing at a show. Horse shows are meant to be a place to show off the training of the horse, the jumping ability and movement of your horse.
A bit is only as nice, soft and an ameable training aid if it is used in the right hands and there are clear rules regarding abuse of horses through use of the bit. Expect to be reported to the steward if you use a whip excessively but also if you use a bit inhumanely. This can mean repeated pulling, tugging or jerking on the horses mouth.
Bitless bridles are not permitted.
What About Bridles
Hunter bridles are meant to be conservative and should reflect a tasteful turnout that would be appropriate for a field hunt. This means leave your rhinestone studded and bejewelled brownbands at home. Stick with an elegant well made plain leather brown band that compliments the noseband.
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