How to Care for Bits
Preparing Your Bit For UseWhen you receive your silver bit, look it over & feel how it responds in your hands. This should actually improve as the bit breaks in.
Restrain yourself from running outside to bridle your horse. Wash the mouthpiece with a gentle soap. Rinse the bit thoroughly and dry it.
Mount your bit on your headstall (make sure the headstall leather is conditioned & in working order while you are at it). Choose your rein style & check them as well. Add rein chains, if a traditional bit. Don't forget a curb strap. No chains should be employed here.
When introducing a bit for the first few times, some horsemen use 5 ccs of liquid glycerin in the horses's mouth for lubrication. Others use sugar, tobacco, garlic, etc., but the glycerin seems to work the best. Keep the time fairly short for the first few rides with the bit if this is the first time for your horse. Get ready to bridle & enjoy.
Cleaning & Maintenance of Bits
A little care will help your bit last a very long time. Bits are made to oxidize over time (unless stainless). This is part of the wonderful patina that develops over time. Your bluing (whether black, antique brown, blue, gray, etc.) will oxidize. Enjoy it. Your horse will.
If you want to keep it as pristine as possible, then wipe it down with a little olive oil but dont let it become rancid before use. Some people's hands have a lot of acid which works to speed the oxidation process as do areas near the sea or any sulphur influences.
The old rule was to rinse & dry your horse's bit after each use.
Periodically, inspect your bit & make certain any of the parts that should move do. Also, check it for wear.
On swivel cheek bits, every so often, use a little non-toxic oil for lubrication.
Wash your bit prior to deep silver cleaning, then polish it. You won't have to work as hard & will use less polishing material. If you want the antiqued look, only hit the highlights of the bit with a polish cloth or cleaner & buff.
Preventative measures for cowboy gear & collectibles include:
1. Noting the serial number of the bit or spur (each bears a serial number). Point to remember: we can duplicate your bit/spurs for you even years later with this number.
2. Marking the piece with the abbreviation for your state and your drivers license number (note this on the bill of sale, if you sell or trade your gear)
3. Noting special marks, features of the pieces
4. Taking photos of the bit, spur, etc. & making a second copy on disc to keep in a safe deposit box (or at a friends)
5. Put documentation (sales receipts, etc.) with the photos. If possible, scan them onto the disc with the photos.
This will aid in your insurance records & any claims.
Report all theft even if it seems hopeless. Law enforcement officers can build a history IF they have data from you & others to figure out patterns. They cannot solve crimes that they dont know about. If you have the data & the photos, it will make potential recovery easier. It will also help demonstrate ownership.
- Dorothy Rogers 2002
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