Fitting the Bit
Even the most expensive bit will not do the job if it doesnít fit your muleís mouth. If your mule is worried about his mouth your communication will be impaired and interrupted. Head tossing, mouth gaping, tongue over, high head carriage, getting behind the bit , pulling - all are compensations a mule may use to get away from an ill fitting bit.
Measure your muleís mouth by pulling string through it where the bit will rest. Tie a knot on each side. Choose a bit that is about one-eighth inch longer than the distance between the knots.
You want the bit slightly larger than the muleís mouth so that hinges and rings do not pinch the corners of the lips. You donít want too small a bit because it will pinch and too large a bit will be sloppy and hard for the mule to hold.
Choose the diameter of the bit based on severity. Remember, thin, narrow diameter bits are more severe. Most mules, if properly trained, will go well in a medium thick mouthpiece.
Adjust the bridle along the cheek pieces so the bit rests correctly in the muleís mouth. For a snaffle, adjust the headstall so that there is one wrinkle in the corner of the muleís lips. You might want two wrinkles when introducing the mule to the bit so he canít get his tongue over the bit. But, one he gets use to it, drop it down to one wrinkle.
For the curb bit, be sure the it is balanced correctly. Unbalanced curbs put undue pressure on the mouth and confuse messages sent by the rider.
Consider, taste of metal, weight, shank length and shank shape when fitting the bit. Remember, this is a line of communication to your mule.
If your communication wires get crossed because of an ill fitting bit, you canít expect the best from your mule. Itís your responsibility to make sure all messages are clear and the bit you choose is the correct one for your mule and the job he is to do for you.