Pelham Bit (Mullen, Jointed, Multi-Link, Ported, Rugby, Kimblewick, Roller, Twisted, Rubber, Happy Mouth etc.) for Horses
The pelham bit is best described as an all in one double bridle that offers the action of a snaffle bit combined with the leverage action of the curb bit, but with less control and fine tuning than a double bridle would allow.
Horses who have small mouths or large tongues often prefer a pelham to a double bridle due to less room being taken up in their mouths.
Most pelham bits are designed to be used with a snaffle rein and a curb rein which combined with the curb chain offers all round pressure points. For riders who are not keen on riding with two sets of reins there are pelhams such as the Kimblewick which are only used with one rein, alternatively the pelham can also have roundings attached to the bit from which one set of reins can then attached, however the bits action will not be as effective as when using two separate sets of reins.
Pelham Points Of Pressure
- Chin Groove
- If The bit has a port the roof of mouth will also be affected.
The pelham like so many bits today has many sub varieties with different mouthpieces and shank length available:
The shanks of a pelham have several rings for attachment, the upper ring is used for the bridle cheek pieces and it is on these rings that two hooks are found from which the curb chain is positioned. There is then a much smaller ring for the lip strap and below that is the ring for the curb rein. As a guide the longer the shank the more leverage action the bit will have.
The curb chain acts on the horses chin groove and comes into play when the rein contact is taken up, if the curb chain is either too loose or too tight it will not be effective and especially if too tight will be very uncomfortable for the horse.
- Fitting a Curb Chain
- The chain can be a either a single chain, rubber covered or double chain with the single link chain applying most pressure.
- The very last ring in the chain should be passed through the hook on the right hand side of the bit, then, lying flat with no twists the very last link of the chain is passed through the hook on the left hand side of the bit.
- The adjustment will then depend upon the length of the chain and your horses jaw, as a guide link another ring of the chain through the hook on the left so that when the curb rein is used the chain will then come into action and the pelham shanks will then be at a 45 degree angle to the horses mouth.
- Regardless of the type of chain there should be a lip strap that attaches through the central loop of the curb chain and onto the smallest shank loop on either side.
There are several different mouthpieces available and each applies slightly different amounts of pressure depending on type of mouthpiece chosen. It is worth knowing that thinner bits tend to be more severe than thicker ones whose pressure is more evenly distributed, however there are exceptions to this rule, for example some horses who have particularly large tongues and small mouths may find a thinner mouthpiece more comfortable than a thick one so the choice will as usual be down to your horses individual requirements.
Pelhams that are used with two reins offer the rider far more control and allow a more sensitive approach due to being able to use the curb and snaffle rein independently from each other.
- Straight Bar/ Mullen Mouth Pelham - The straight bars offer even pressure across the tongue and act against the corners and bars of the mouth, the poll and chin groove.
- Jointed Pelham - Jointed pelhams produce a nutcracker effect when the reins are used causing pressure to the area of the link or links as well as upon the corners, poll, chin groove and bars of the mouth, an example of a jointed pelham is one that has a lozenge in the centre.
- Multi Link - mouthpieces with multiple links offer several pressure points across the mouthpiece and often help to relax the horses jaw as the bit is more mobile, the shanks will also provide leverage action on the poll and chin groove, a type of multi link includes the waterford.
- Ported Pelham - Pelhams with high ports act against the roof of the mouth, those with low ports often allow more room for the tongue and help to spread the pressure of the bit evenly across the tongue.
- Rugby Pelham - The rugby pelham has an independent ring attached to the shanks for the snaffle rein attachment, this can help the bits action to more independently used by the rider.
- Kimblewick - The kimblewick is a mild pelham in that it has a shorter shank than a traditional pelham and is only used with one rein in combination with the curb chain.
- Roller Mouthpieces - Roller mouthpieces contain several moveable sections which roll against the horses tongue and help prevent the horse from taking hold of the bit helping to relax the their jaw. Example includes a copper roller with a single central link.
- Twisted - pelhams with twisted mouthpieces are a more severe mouthpiece
Pelham Bit Sizes
Bits are measured from between the mouthpiece rings and are usually available in sizes ranging from 3, 3.5, 4, 4 1/4, 4.5, 4 3/4, 5, 5 1/4 , 5.5, 5 3/4 and 6 inches.
Pelham Bit Materials
There are a variety of materials used such as:
- Copper - copper bits can help encourage salivation.
- Sweet Iron - sweet iron also encourages salivation due to its sweet taste.
- Rubber - Rubber bits although soft on the horses mouth, some bits especially vulcanite can be a little bit on the chunky side and so may not suit every horse. Rubber bits are often used on youngsters due to their softer nature
- Stainless Steel - stainless steel bits are very durable and the majority of horses go very well in.