Friday, December 16, 2016

Horse Bits

It is likely that the first domesticated horses were ridden with some type of bitless headgear made of sinew, leather, or rope. Components of the earliest headgear may be difficult to determine, as the materials would not have held up over time. For this reason, no one can say with certainty which came first, the bitted or the bitless bridle. There is evidence of the use of bits, located in two sites of the Botai, dated about 3500-3000 BC. Nose rings were used on the equids portrayed on the Standard of Ur, circa 2600 BCE - 2400 BCE. To date, the earliest artistic evidence of use of some form of bitless bridle was found in illustrations of Synian horseman, dated approximately 1400 BC.
The first bits were made of rope, bone, horn, or hard wood. Metal bits came into use between 1300 and 1200 BC, originally made of bronze. In modern times, nickel was a favored material until about 1940, when it was largely replaced by stainless steel. Copper, aurigan and sweet iron (cold rolled steel) are incorporated into some bits to encourage salivation in the mouth of the horse, which encourages a softer mouth and more relaxed jaw. Bits also can be made of other materials such as rubber or plastic, sometimes in combination with metals.
Throughout history, the need for control of horses in warfare drove extensive innovation in bit design, producing a variety of prototypes and styles over the centuries, from Ancient Greece into modern day use.

 Antique Japanese bit kutsuwa pack horse type

 Antique Japanese samurai horsebit

 Cheekpiece from a Horse Bit

 Galatian bronze horse bit

Horse Bit Cheekpiece, about 700 BC, Luristan, Iran, bronze

 Iran, Luristan, Luristan bronzes, circa 1000-650 B.C.


 Iranian Horse Bit