Uses of a Western Correction Bit

A western correction bit.
Image Credit: K. Blocksdorf

The western correction bit is called a correction bit because it was designed to deal with horses that don’t obey rein aids. This is a bit intended to be used for training purposes only, not for general everyday riding. It is a fairly severe bit, and in the hands of someone who doesn’t understand how it works and doesn’t understand how to use rein aids effectively, it could create more problems than it solves.

Appearance

Called a correction bit, this is a western style bit with a high port, thin mouthpiece, and copper wire wraps. The mouthpiece is also jointed on both sides of the port. The lower rings are ‘butterfly’ style. Not all correction bits have this exact mouthpiece. Some will have a smooth mouth, and some have narrower and/or straighter shanks rather than the round ‘butterfly’ shaped shanks.

Some correction bits are very ornate. They are always attached so they are loose rather than rigid or fixed. The one distinctive characteristic of a correction bit is the port, whether it is squared or U-shaped, has joints on both sides. This is called a correction mouthpiece.

Uses

This can be a very severe bit in the hands of an inexperienced rider and should only be used by experienced trainers for a short time to correct a specific problem. If a horse is ‘hard mouthed,’  a correction bit, with its amplified curb action and the nutcracker effect of the mouthpiece, sends a very clear, severe reprimand to the horse who ignores the rider. In some disciplines, correction bits are not allowed.

How It Works

This is a curb bit that will apply pressure in the mouth, under the jaw, over the poll and on the roof of the mouth. Although the shanks are relatively short on this particular correction bit, the port is very high and the mouthpiece is thin, hinged, and wire wrapped, meaning there will be a lot of action within the mouth. While the high port gives some relief to the tongue, pulling on the reins raises it, and if the reins are pulled too hard, the port can contact the roof of the horse’s mouth.

Pulling sharply or hard on this bit will be painful for the horse. Some horses will toss their heads to evade the bit. A sensitive horse may be inclined to rear in a harsh bit like this. Ideally, once the horse has been re-schooled to be obedient, a milder bit can be used.

Again, bits of this nature should only be used by trainers with years of experience who understand exactly the mechanics of the bit, the risks in using a bit like this, and the result they wish to achieve. The name correction bit is a little misleading because, without the proper skills and knowledge, bits like this can exacerbate problems rather than correct them.