To understand bits and mouthpieces’ purpose first we need to know what they are. A snaffle bit, in most cases, comprises of just two parts, the mouthpiece, which goes in the horse’s mouth, and the bit rings that the bridle and reins are attached to.
Contrary to popular belief the bit isn’t designed to actually control the horse, it is actually designed to communicate the rider’s commands to the horse. The idea is that the bit applies subtle pressure to the bars of the mouth which are made of sensitive cartilage. The horse is responsive to any movement or pressure on those bars and instinctively moves away from it, therefore making them to move in the direction the rider wants them to go.
To find the right bit and mouthpiece for your horse, you need to keep in mind your level of experience as a rider, how sensitive your horse’s mouth is and what discipline you choose to practice. Sensitive horses will need kinder and softer bits while perhaps less experienced riders will need stronger bits to properly communicate their commands. Meanwhile certain disciplines like Polo in Argentina may opt for a “levantador” (which is just a common Single Break Rope Gag).
When trying different bits and mouthpieces, keep an eye for these signs to know if your horse is uncomfortable: a shaking head, a tongue over the bit and a pointing nose. Please keep this in mind so as not to hurt your horse and make the most out of every riding experience you have!