Growing up on a ranch, you always use a ported bit. I worked with all kinds of horses, and one thing was common among all of them: When there was pressure on their tongue, they got pushy against the bit. As I worked on my craft as a horseman, I thought to myself, “If every horse I get on does the same negative thing, it has to be tied to something.”
So I eliminated a lot of different things. The horses proved to me it was pressure on their tongue that was the problem, so I eliminated that.
Non-palate pressure mouthpieces have ports less than 2 inches high. People worry about a port hitting the roof of a horse’s mouth. These ports are low enough in most mouths, shallow palates and thick tongues aside. The mouthpieces are opened up for tongue release and rely on pressure on the bars to deliver the signal.
Non-palate pressure bits are available in slider and fixed mouthpieces. The slider slows down the rider’s hand to make the horse more responsive instead of reactive.
“The only thing I’ve found about a horse that’s 100% true: Pressure on the tongue makes him hollow out. No discipline wants that. Non-palate pressure bits release tongue pressure for a better response.” —JE