An Australian bitting specialist is “calling out” the FEI and Equestrian Australia over what she describes as misinformation printed in rules books about bits and bitting.
Charmae Bell, of BitBank Australia, said she was taking a stand against the misinformation printed in the eventing dressage bitting rules, and expressed surprise at the stance against French-link bits.
The FEI recently released a statement confirming that the use of the French link for eventing dressage at FEI level is not allowed. The rule does not apply to lower level or national classes.
Bell describes this latest ruling as “mind-boggling”, because the French-link has been “bundled into the same group as plate bits”, such as control plate bits and Dr Bristol bits. Bell says the French link is “old technology”, but it is not a harsh or severe bit at all, and “it certainly does not create any excess pressure on your horse’s tongue.”
In a video released on Thursday, Bell shows the differences between the French link and control plate bits. “When you take contact in a plate bit, it pushes down in the tongue and creates quite a sharp, forceful tongue pressure, so it is a really severe bit.
“I absolutely believe this should not be permitted in dressage. But the humble French link? So many horses use them; we’ve used them for centuries. So not the most modern bit, but certainly not harsh or severe in any way, so I’m disappointed to see that rule.”
Bell says the errors in the rule books relate to the action of bits, firstly the nutcracker action of a single-jointed snaffle. She says this is a common misconception. “People think the nutcracker action refers to the bit cracking your horse up in the palate. This can’t happen unless you’re leading your horse from under the chin. Under normal circumstances, it actually pushes the mouthpiece down into the horse’s tongue. The nutcracker action actually refers to the bit closing up under contact and creating a vice-like effect on the lower jaw, or, like a nutcracker.”
Bell also says the action of the baucher bit is incorrectly explained in the rule book, saying that it uses mild leverage and works on the poll and the lips. “We know from multiple peer-reviewed studies that this is simply not the case. The baucher actually provides poll relief. The mouthpiece picks up in the mouth, and loosens off at the poll.”
In the video, Bell shows what is required for a leverage bit and shows how the baucher works. “There is no leverage or poll pressure from a baucher snaffle.”
Bell said she was writing to the FEI and EA to stop the spread of misinformation about the action and mechanics of bits “especially coming from that level”.
“It is my purpose to make bitting as easy and as ethical and comfortable as possible. We just can’t do that if we are getting misinformation from our governing bodies.”
Bell said she was more than happy to consult with the FEI or EA on any bitting query.
“I just want your members to be getting the right information and to be able to use the right bit and the most comfortable bits on their horses.”