I agree with many of the points Gina Miles made in her article "A Bit of Advice" about choosing the right bit in your August 2011 issue, and I would readily trust her judgment and her riding skills. I believe that any horse should be able to go in a basic snaffle and still be able to perform well, and some horses do need stronger bits. I was worried, however, that certain aspects of the article might be misinterpreted and that the use of a bitless bridle or hackamore as an equally useful alternative was not mentioned. A stronger bit certainly does not always mean better performance or a happier horse. I have done catch rides on horses of several disciplines, mostly dressage and hunters, and sometimes reining, eventing, and western pleasure horses, so I have seen lots of different bits in different mouths, and I can attest that they are not all beneficial or used correctly. I sometimes see a stronger bit in the stead of proper training: they simply hide problems and make for a horse that is unhappy and does not use their body properly, which can lead to injury. The feeling of “suppleness” a rider can feel in a stronger bit is sometimes a horse simply gaping and/or over-flexing at the bit. The horse is not truly supple, and often even more rigid than before. Horses that rush jumps may jump worse in a stronger bit and should instead go back to basic gridwork and ground poles to correct this. If a horse is strong or misbehaving with a current bit, riders should also check for body pain and any dental or nervous system problems before putting a stronger bit in a horse’s mouth, and even training faults of their own such as heavy or unsteady hands, or a hard or unbalanced or unsteady seat. Bitless bridles and hackamores are also other alternatives to look into. It can re-teach a horse and rider to be much more reliant on and attentive to seat-aids rather than pure mouth control. None of this is to say that stronger bits are bad. In the right hands or on the right horse, they can be quite beneficial. But riders need to think very seriously before going to a stronger bit, do lots of research on how that bit works, consult professionals, and most importantly consider their own horse’s health and happiness before “upgrading”. I just worried that riders might misinterpret some of the article information. Keep up the good articles in this magazine and those with Gina Miles and I cannot wait to read more!