Dexter ring bit
The various items of equipment that a racehorse might be wearing in the paddock and
during a race can be mystifying to anyone who doesn’t work with horses on a regular basis.
It’s all there for a reason, which is to help the horse to perform at its best. Sometimes
it works, and sometimes it doesn’t, but at least it’s useful to know what the trainer is
trying to achieve with it! In Picking Winners On Looks there are chapters on Bandages and
Boots, Bridles and Bits, Other Racing Tack and Headgear.
Bandages and Boots: Just as the trainer of a professional boxer will tape up his
fighter’s hands before putting on the gloves, so a racehorse trainer may bandage a horse’s
legs, or equip it with boots, in order to protect them. Whilst this is clearly a sensible
precaution, what is more controversial is the use of bandages or boots to give support to
a horse’s legs. Picking Winners On Looks explains why.
Bridles and Bits: Most racehorses wear a simple ‘English-type’ snaffle bridle, which is
used to guide, control and restrain a horse. The bridle includes the headpiece, the metal
bit which goes in the mouth, and the reins. The snaffle bit, which is relatively mild compared
with other types of bit, exerts direct pressure on the tongue, bars of the mouth and lips.
Types of snaffle bit seen on the racecourse include the loose ring, egg butt, racing D, full
cheek and Dexter ring bit.
Other Racing Tack: Some horses on the Flat and most over jumps will be wearing a breastgirth
or breastplate, which are used to stop the saddle from sliding back. An Irish martingale
prevents the reins from coming over the horse’s head and getting tangled up if the horse should
fall. A trainer may use a neck strap to help the jockey control a horse’s pace without having
to haul on the reins. In the paddock, a lip or nose chain may occasionally be used to give the
handler more control over a horse that is liable to misbehave.