What we're made of
Understanding the materials used in your horse's bits
When we put something in our mouth it has a distinctive flavor and creates a reaction in us. We might spit it out, find it somewhat bland, or savor the flavor as long as possible. Your horse's mouth also reacts to a mouthpiece's different materials. Below is a quick and dirty list of materials used in bit mouthpieces and how they effect your horse. Please keep in mind that these are statements based on the majority and do not always apply to all horses. Just like you have (or are) that strange friend who likes to eat a lemon like an apple.... your horse could have unique tastes. Our mouthpieces are made of sweet iron and copper, as these two materials are easily accepted by most horses.
Sweet iron is a mild steel that tends to rust over time. Rust on a mouthpiece is a good thing as it tends to increase a horse's salivation; much a like a piece of candy would in your mouth.
Copper offers a sweet taste that horses enjoy. It is better at increasing salivation than sweet iron; allowing an ease in acceptance. Copper is often formed into rollers that are attached to the port or bars of a mouthpiece. Rollers in the center of a mouthpiece give the horse something to play with and keep busy. Rollers on the bars will make a bit less sever as it offers ease in movement.
Stainless steel will not rust; but is seldom used to form mouthpieces, because it does not have positive attributes in this application. Stainless is used in moving parts that need to have the endurance, such as internal rotating pins in the correction port. It is most commonly used on bit shanks rather then mouthpieces. Quality stainless steel should outlast you and your horse.
Aluminum is the lightest metal material you will see used in mouthpieces. It has a short life as it tends to wear and pit over time. Horses do not accept it as well because of it's bitter taste and tenancy to dry out a horses mouth.
Rubber is a soft material that allows flexibility and comfort. Because of its soft nature a center support is usually used in rubber mouthpieces that can damage a horses teeth and mouth if not checked regularly. It has a relatively short life span, but is a good option for horses with very sensitive mouths.
Nylon is slightly more durable than rubber and offers some of the same attributes. It is a strong material that can stand on its own; without the use of a center support. It is not as durable as a metal mouthpiece and will not withstand a horse that likes to chew on its bits.
If you are having trouble with a horse accepting a bit it might pay off to look at the material it is made of and try something different. Typically you cannot go wrong with sweet iron or copper.