Unique in design, and one of the kindest bits available, the Myler's Combination Bit is a hybrid of a ring bit, shank bit and Hackamore.
The design features a large centre ring to support the mouthpiece, a top ring for the headstall and a bottom ring for the reins. The distance between the top and bottom rings determines the amount of leverage, with the short and long shank combination at opposite ends of this scale and the medium or 3-ring combination giving a choice of rein options.
The lightweight mouthpiece slides freely on the centre ring until the degree of rotation brings it up against the ring stop. A rawhide-covered rope noseband and curb strap are linked together and run through two small offset rings on the purchase.
The Myler Combination Bit is not a hackamore nor a hackamore combination. The fit of both the noseband and jaw strap is higher, with the noseband set above the nostrils, so it cannot restrict the horse's airway. The noseband and jaw strap are fitted snugly, but not tight, against the horse's face, so the action of the bit is smooth and efficient.
Utilising various pressure points, Myler Combination Bits offer simultaneous interaction of the mouthpiece, curb strap and noseband. When rein pressure is applied, the Myler Combination Bit exerts pressure on the horse's nose, poll and jaw (i.e. only 33% of the total in each area.) If the rider continues to apply rein pressure, the mouthpiece will meet the 'stop' on the ring and start to engage, whereupon the total pressure applied by the rider will be dispersed over 5 areas – the nose, poll, jaw, tongue and bars (i.e. 20% in each).
The pressure exerted on the horse's nose, jaw and poll are extremely effective at getting the horse to relax at the poll and "roll over from the withers", to hold a rounded outline.
Myler Combination Bits are available with all levels of mouthpieces, from Comfort Snaffles to Ported Barrels. Because all pressure areas engage and release at the same time, the horse is offered a pressure-free reward whenever he is light and relaxed at the poll, (providing, of course, that the rider relaxes his hand.) This makes the Myler Combination an excellent training tool, for horses ranging from youngsters to well-schooled campaigners.
All Myler Combination Bit mouthpieces are made from Sweet Iron which will corrode gradually over time giving a taste that the horse will love.
The Myler Combination Bit is particularly suitable as the first bit for a young horse or pony, which will be used to head pressure signals from being led in a head collar. It can also be a great bit for horses, who are very nervous in the mouth; ex-racehorses, who have been trained to "run into their mouths" and are reluctant to come into a schooled-horse outline; and older horses who think they know it all and will benefit from a very different feel in the communication they receive from the rider.
Many professional event riders find the Myler Combination invaluable to get the horse relaxed and going as softly as possible and working well off the other aids, before they replace it with a permitted bit for their dressage test.
Attaching the Myler Combination Bit to your bridle
Remove your existing noseband from your bridle and attach your cheek pieces to the top of the purchase (the part which is angled out from the horse's face to avoid rubbing). The purchase on a Myler Combination is much longer than that on an ordinary bit, so you may need to make extra holes in your headpiece, or change the cheekpieces for a smaller size.
Before you bridle your horse, ensure that the combination's jaw strap is opened as far as possible to allow the maximum room for correct, controlled fitting. Be careful not to loose the metal keepers on the jaw strap when doing this.
Fit the mouthpiece as normal. Position the nose piece high on the horse's nose, so it doesn't interfere with the horse's breathing in any way – it must lie on the nose bone above the nasal cartilage but must not be fitted so high that it rubs the projecting cheek bones. No additional noseband is needed.
Transitioning your horse into his Myler Combination Bit
It is very important to take your time to transition your horse into any new bit but particularly vital if it is a Myler Combination Bit because it will feel so different to the horse.
With the Myler Combination Bit, you have two things to show the horse, so transition him into the mouthpiece first, leaving the nosestrap on the loosest fitting, until he has 'given' once or twice. When showing him the effect of the nose, jaw and poll pressure, do ensure that you tighten the jaw strap very gradually, hole by hole over a few minutes, so the horse has plenty of time to get used to the totally new action of the bit. Ensure that the nose strap remains high on the nose throughout (if necessary use string or tape to support it from the headpiece or cheek pieces, until it is tight enough to stay up on its own).
The horse will instantly cause himself pressure on the face if he demonstrates any of the usual evasions (e.g. head up, mouth open, etc.) and time and care must be taken to make sure he learns the new "rules" without frightening himself.
Be very careful not to pull on the reins when leading or mounting the horse and to move off with an extra-light hand when riding with the Myler Combination Bit for the first time.
Tightness and readjustment
For a correct fit, the jaw strap must be adjusted until it is possible to fit only the tip of your little finger under the nosepiece. This will need to be checked several times during the first few rides and then each time you ride subsequently, because the leather and the cord stretch. You may need to make extra holes in the jaw strap to ensure the right fit.
When removing the combination, it is vital to release the jaw strap completely, so that when the horse opens his mouth to release the mouthpiece, he doesn't cause himself pressure against the partially opened jaw and nose strap.
Care of your Myler Combination Bit
Like any piece of equipment, care should be taken to fit the combination correctly and to check its fit and condition on a daily basis. Further details are provided in the swing ticket on each new bit and every retailer has been trained to advise on its correct fit and use.
The mouthpiece should be wiped down after used to ensure the corrosion of the sweet iron takes place evenly and gradually. The cord may be wiped gently with a damp cloth and the curb strap cleaned like any other leather strap.
Information courtesy of Myler Bits USA.