More Bit Geek Stuff

Many thanks, everyone who commented on the French Link post — I am generally and genuinely interested in equestrian terminology and always find answers to a question about term usage illuminating.

Along these same lines, I could again ask questions about what you call certain types of bits, so I will. I will leave these questions very open-ended. (Keep in mind I am not asking what each bit is for, just what you’d call it. I am not trying to open the leverage can of worms.)

Fulmer or full cheek?

Elevator or gag?

See how open-ended that is?

I have pretty specific pictures in my mind of the difference between a fulmer and a full cheek, but I have seen either called both.

Elevator or gag … that’s more complicated! The bit that first comes to mind when I hear “gag” is a Cheltenham gag, but that is not the only type of gag bit out there–many bits have a gag action and aren’t what I or anyone else would call a Cheltenham gag.

When I hear “elevator” I picture those 3- or 4-ring bits that people call elevator, Dutch gag, bubble bit, or Pessoa bit. I know y’all know what I’m talking about–what do you call them? (Let’s skip talking about how and how many reins you use with these bits.)

I think this is what some people might refer to as a “true” elevator?

One final question– is it possible to use fulmer/bit loops on a Nelson gag? Like, how would that work? I can’t picture it because of how gag cheeks work, so I am thinking emphatically no.

See what I’m saying?

This post is pretty slanted toward the English disciplines (especially the over fences ones) as I am not at all familiar with bit names for Western, Gaited/Park, or Driving. I welcome any answers along those lines, too!


9 thoughts on “More Bit Geek Stuff

  1. Western is all about the curb and curb chain, which you would never see in the hunter/jumper/dressage/eventing disciplines bc it is intended to be ridden with split reins held in one hand and the horse is trained to neck rein rather than move off the direction from pressure on the bit. Barrel racers tend to get quite creative with the bits they use, but the reiner, western pleasure, cow horse and cutters use similar bits to a curb.


  2. I’m with you; there’s a BIG difference between a Fulmer and a full-cheek! I’ve always kind of assumed that an elevator was a type of gag; it works on the same type of action. Like a Beval/Wonder Bit is also a type of gag bit. But I could be wrong!


  3. I am with you. The first pic is a single jointed fulmer, the 2nd I would call a full cheek with a Dr. Bristol mouthpiece (to be super specific). Gags I picture has having the rope/sliding leather sheek pieces, and elevators like you described, with the extra rings. That’s just how I picture them when I hear those terms! Don’t know about that last one though- never seen anything like it!


  4. Ditto the above. Definite difference in fullmer and a standard full cheek.

    Gag gets a little more complicated because I have called a 3 or 4 ring just a gag. I agree with what you said about a true elevator. The gag with cheeks I call a sliding or rope gag. Lots of different ways to call the same thing!


  5. There are definitely specific names for all these bits – people just get lazy or ignorant calling them the same thing. They certainly aren’t! One great thing you learn in Pony Club 🙂


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