Bits for Head Horses: Tips from the Pros

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Garrett Tonozzi's Mark Liston bit

Garrett Tonozzi's Mark Liston bit

Garrett Tonozzi
Horse: Diesel, 21-year-old gelding
Bit: Copper short-shanked chain bit by Mark Liston
Why? It's got just enough bite and it's not too hard on him. He's a really light-mouthed horse and I don't need a port or anything. I've been riding it on him for three or four years now. I don't have to pick him up too much, but the bit has some flex with it so I can pick him up if I need to. He's really light in the box so I try not to pull on him too much.
More info: Bits no longer available, look for them at tack swaps and on Ebay!

Brock Hanson's Gordy Alderson bit

Brock Hanson's Gordy Alderson bit

Brock Hanson
Horse: Stripper, 11-year-old gelding
Bit: Tommy Blessing chain port and

Gordy Alderson solid port
Why? I ride a Tom Blessing chain port for scoring-it's got a short shank with a big port, so I can ride light if I want to but it still gives a lot of flex and whoa if I really needed it. It's a really good feeling bit. I ride the solid port because it's really easy to score, and it's not quite as sharp as the Blessing. It is a front-mounted bit, so it has a warning pull. When I pick up on him there's a lot of warning with that slight touch and hesitation. Sometimes Stripper counter-arches a little strong, and the Gordy Alderson keeps his shoulders more square.
More info: $99, nrsworld.com (chain port); $250 (approximately), gabitsandspurs.com (solid port)

A Paul Petska chain used by Chad Masters and Turtle Powell

A Paul Petska chain used by Chad Masters and Turtle Powell

Turtle Powell
Horse: Vegas, 11-year-old gelding
Bit: Petska chain and ported-chain
Why? I've used Petska bits for seven or eight years now. My hands have just really gotten used to them. The port is strong enough but it still keeps them fairly soft. They have control but aren't really stiff, not stiff like a solid mouthpiece would be. Everybody's hands get used to a different level, and I think I've got fairly soft hands compared to a lot of guys. But a lot of people can get along with a Petska bit because they're so versatile. You can pull on one and it's not going to do a ton of damage.
More info: $130, rockinmtack.com

Chad Masters
Horse: Warthog, 12-year-old gelding
Bit: Petska chain
Why? My horse is pretty light-mouthed, and the light chain lets me be able to pull on him scoring and while roping if I need to without him over-reacting like he would with a heavier bit.
More info: $130, rockinmtack.com