As our filly gets closer to being started under saddle, the thoughts about bitting become more important. Maree has taught us a great deal about the importance of protecting a tender young uneducated mouth of a young horse. Given that communication is pretty rudimentary early on with no finesse, one does not want to make working with a bit in their mouth during these early learning days painful. This was what brought us to using the serreta first during lunging. Ellie is able to be taught about direction from pressure on her nose and face while the learning curve is great and misunderstandings will be frequent. It is much nicer for them to learn this without the bit in their mouth. As time goes on and the ideas are related to her in a way that make sense and she is responding with more lightness it is time for the bit to be introduced and the change over begins. Early introduction of the bit can be made from the ground just working her gently in hand to give her the idea. The ideal situation would be to begin her riding while still using the serreta with her carrying the bit in her mouth. Gradually she will change from the serreta to the bit while using four reins. Once she is fully transferred to the bit, then the serreta is removed and her new life as a bitted horse starts.
There are many things to think about when putting a bit in her mouth. Size, shape, how it applies pressure and also not to forget about the teeth, such as wolf teeth. I think the article below will address good ideas about how to properly bit a horse to be sure that they are comfortable and able to work without pain. There is more to bitting than we realize, and yet it can make such a difference in their attitude towards work.
Even though I am writing from the perspective of a young horse, I think it is worth reviewing what we use and sometimes take for granted even on our more experienced horses. Here are a couple of articles.