Horse bits made of Stainless steel

Stainless steel is commonly used in manufacturing horse bits.

Back in the late 1800’s when a process for creating a non corrosive steel was patented. The name used was “stainless steel”.  Although this is still the common name it is incorrect. Stainless steel will rust in time and under certain conditions.  There are different grades of stainless steel. Some are harder than others. It is used in marine fixtures, dinner wear and other items that are exposed to conditions that would normally cause malleable iron with cold rolled steel to rust. Originally horse bits were made from things such as leather, bone or even rope. As the brass age entered bits started to take the form of our modern day bits, such as snaffle bits. Later bits were sand casted  of malleable iron and even later these were plated with nickel or chrome. The problem with this process is that soon the plating would chip off and the bits would rust. Then we started to see bits made of nickle. Although these bits did not rust,  they did tarnish and due to the soft nature of this metal would bend quite easily. These bits were still in production in the early 1980’s in England.  Around the early 1970’s Stainless steel bits started showing up in quantity. First they too were sand casted. Later quality bits were made with a method called lost wax casting. The lost wax method produces a smooth finish that is ready for tumbling and then hand polishing. There has been controversy over the quality of horse bits on the market today. Some believe that certain countries produce a higher quality than others. In fact if the lost wax method is used there is little difference in the quality. Sand casting commonly used in India, because less money has to be invested in equipment, is a different story.   There are also different metals mixed with stainless steel that produce a gold colored metal. This is to produce a bit that will help keep the horses mouth moist. It has also been said that some of these metals produce a warmer feeling in the horses mouth.  You can be the judge of that but some metals do transfer heat quicker than others.

It is worthwhile to note that even stainless steel bits do wear and corrode with use. For safety sake you need to carefully check your bits before use.   Look into the crevices where the mouthpiece is joined around the shank. You want to look anyplace that saliva collects. This will cause corrosion and any stress at this point is in danger of breaking.  Here are a few tips on bit safety.

1. Rinse bits off after using.

2. Check all points that rotate around other metal parts . 

3.  Never use a bit to tie up a horse. Don’t use your reins or any sort of a rope that would connect the bit to any fixed object. You will stand the chance of injuring your horse and damaging expensive equipment. 

4. Rule number 4 is the most important. Do not break rule number 3!

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