From past experience, we have noticed that there are differing opinions on the “proper” techniques for measuring a bit. However, we list the following guidelines, as they refer to how we measure our line of bits. We think these are the most commonly used ways to measure English bits.

The thickness of mouth pieces are usually measured in millimeters as are ring sizes. The mouth width (from side to side) is in inches. Cheeks of pelhams and curbs are usually referenced in inches with centimeters a second choice. Where possible we will try to list both measurements. Now that we have the tool(s) to do the job, we can get to work. Let’s start with something fairly simple and measure the mouth pieces of snaffles. As you can see from the illustrations…it is pretty clear from what points we take measurements. We do not take the mouth length by abutting hard up against the Eggbutt portion or hole for a loose ring. We take the measurement a fraction in from those points. Reason? Because we are only measuring the portion that will actually be inside the horse’s mouth. By going as far out as you can on a mouth piece, you may assume that a bit is as much as 1/2” larger than it actually is. (Fig. A & B).

There are opposing schools of thought from ours that feel that the thickness of the mouth of a loose ring snaffle should be measured at the portion of the mouthpiece as it protrudes into the ring. Similarly, some feel that the proper place from which to measure a mouth’s thickness (diameter) would be right where the mouth hits the ring. (Or a shank in the case of a curb or Pelham bit.) Again, we do not measure in these locations as they are invariably wider than the portion that will actually be inside the horse’s mouth. (Fig. C). We measure the diameter of all of the rings of our snaffles; Eggbutts, dee rings, full cheeks, loose rings, etc from top to bottom (rather then from left to right) inside the rings. (Fig. D).

Pelhams and curb bits. We measure the length & the diameter of the mouth in the same manner that we do snaffles (Fig. F). As far as the sides are concerned…there are three terms that you will need to remember; “cheek”, “purchase” and “shank.” The cheek is the entire length of the side both above and below the bar/mouthpiece. The purchase is the portion above the bar and the shank is the portion below the bar. To measure the cheeks we start at the top inside edge of the eye (the ring to which the cheek strap is attached) and go to the bottom of the shank at the point where the ring for the rein is located. (Fig. G). At this time on English style curb and Pelham bits, we will provide the measurement for the entire cheek. (purchase, shank and mouth combined.)

Full Cheek bits will provide ring & cheek measurement, measuring from tip to tip for cheek measurement. (Fig. J). Please note: Bits may have a slight variance, that are within metal industry standards, due to shrinkage.

In closing, the majority of “standard bits” can be measured following the mentioned criteria. There are many bits that are unique and in turn do not really follow the norm in regards to measurements. Please feel free to call us about specifics…if we are not certain of the details that you need, we will research them for you.