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Salox Gold, Bit-Fitting, and and a “Neue” Perspective on Bits

by Equestrian Weekly Communications | Aug 22, 2023, 2:30 PM EST

Florence Wetzel (right).
Photo: Courtesy of Neue Schule

Does it matter what metal you put in your horse’s mouth? Florence Wetzel says it definitely does. Neue Schule’s expert bit and bridle-fitter is an equestrian herself and joined the company after her own horse’s positive response to a Neue Schule bit made her a believer in their innovative approach to bits and their design.

One aspect that sets Neue Schule bits apart is the Salox Gold mouthpiece, which Neue Schule says is warmer, softer, and less likely to leach the metal ions that can cause a sharply metallic taste when interacting with saliva.

Intrigued by the properties of Salox Gold, we asked Florence why the metal in your horse’s bit matters, how Neue Schule’s Salox Gold is different from old-school metals used for bits, and how best to care for your horse’s bit.

What was the impetus for Neue Schule to develop a specific metal for bits?

It was partly based on a very large body of research showing a number of desirable qualities that we would like to have in bits but that we didn’t have at the time, including very low bioavailability. By “bioavailability,” we’re referring to the leaching of metal ions from a bit’s mouthpiece as the horse’s saliva interacts with the metal mouthpiece. I liken it to the experience you have if you’ve ever put inexpensive or poorly made silverware in your mouth and tasted metal. That’s an example of metal ions leaching out of the spoon or fork and reacting with the acidity in your saliva that helps you break down foods.

When these metal ions leach from a horse’s mouthpiece, it makes some horses overly salivate. What you want for your horse is a moist mouth, not an overly foaming mouth.

Some conventional wisdom says a foamy mouth is good, though. Is that wrong?

For seven years now I’ve offered $100 to anyone who brings me a photo capturing horses at play at liberty with foam in their mouths. It doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen when horses are out playing around and having a great time. Part of the foamy mouth is anxiety, part of it is what’s in their mouth, part of it is the process of having a bit in their mouth.

Horses have to open and close the soft palate in order to breathe or swallow, and when we have a lot of foam, we make that much more difficult. So you want a moist mouth, not a mouth that is so overwhelmed with foam that we’re making it difficult for them to breathe or swallow.

In addition to low or zero bioavailability, what else was Neue Schule looking for in a bit that didn’t exist in traditional bit metals?

The metal of Salox has high thermal conductivity, which means that after you put it in the horse’s mouth, it quickly comes up to the same temperature as the horse’s mouth. One of the things people who have to ride in colder temperatures in the winter struggle with is cold bits. A lot of people have to ride after work in the winter, and in the Northeast where I’m from the indoor arenas were probably around 22 degrees in the evenings—and I guarantee you the bits were probably around 22 degrees, too. We’ve come up with all of these well-intentioned ideas like bit cozies and people blowing on the bits in their hands and things like that, but it doesn’t change the temperature of that metal. By having the high thermal conductivity we have in Salox, we make a bit more comfortable for the horse to accept in the colder climates.

One thing to keep in mind is that this means in the summer, or if the bit is sitting in the sun it quickly comes up to that ambient temperature, too. So you don’t want to leave your bridle in the sun, either, and most people don’t do that.

Neue Schule also advertises the relative softness of Salox Gold, as compared to other bit metals. Why does the company believe a softer metal is advantageous?

Salox is hard enough to do the job, but it has a softness to it so that it is not sending shockwaves up through the horse’s teeth. When people use our bits, they will see tiny dents and tiny scratches in them over time. Those in no way affect the efficacy of the bit or how it functions.

I do several hundred fittings a year, and I will often get calls from people that their horse is really chomping on the bit a lot. Sometimes that happens when horses have long been ridden in plastic or rubber, which can make a horse perhaps more active in the mouth than we would prefer. I’ll go to places where riders say their horses are chewing on their bits, and when I ask to see what they’re riding in they’ll show me a bit with the plastic or rubber half gone; that’s especially common with double-jointed bits. The core of the bit, the metal, is exposed. That’s not comfortable for the horse, and it’s not safe.

Again, we want a horse with an attentive mouth. But if they are chewing and chomping while they’re working, they cannot pay attention to what you’re trying to communicate to them through the reins. So we want a moist mouth, a relatively quiet mouth, so that they can hear what we’re saying.

Proper bridle fit plays a role in this, too. I often say this to people: I can do the best job of fitting a bit, but if the bridle is sabotaging us because it’s pressing on something that it shouldn’t or if it’s ill-fitting, it can actually trigger some of this behavior of chomping, chewing, and fiddling with the bit. So it goes hand in glove: we need a properly fitted bit on a properly fitted bridle.

What should people know about properly fitting a bit?

When I lecture on bit-fitting, it’s surprising how many old wives’ tales about bits and fitting bits people have and hold dear. People often don’t know that bits have a front and a back, a top and a bottom, a right and a left. On about 50% of the bridles I encounter, the bit is on upside down, and on about 70% the bit is the wrong size.

People often don’t understand that bits are engineered to fit a certain way so that certain parts of the bit function on certain areas of the mouth. When they’re too big, they slide around and can’t function as they were designed to. You’ll have problems, too, if a bit is too small. So you could have the right bit, but because it’s not the right size, you kind of sabotage yourself because it’s not functioning properly. Fit is really important for both the bit and the bridle.

There are some excellent resources at under Knowledge Base and on my Try My Bits Facebook page, including on how to measure a horse’s mouth.

What’s the best way to care for a bit with a Salox Gold mouthpiece?

I’m glad you asked this. Lately I’ve gotten a couple of photos from people asking if their bits are defective, but when I blew up the photos I could see that the bits weren’t defective; they were dirty. As a society, we love to feed our horses treats. It’s part of our language of love for them, right? You should be rinsing your bit after use. When you take it out of your horse’s mouth, dump the bit in a bucket of clean water and then wipe it off. Or if it has some build-up on it, use a non-scour pad like you would use for a glass-top stove. A non-scour pad and plain dishwashing soap will take the crud off a bit.

People sometimes also say, “My bit is squeaking!” Again, it comes back to treats: crumbs and grains and sugar can get down where the mouthpiece meets the rings and build up there.

If we dunk our bits or rinse them off and dry them after every ride, they should be able to retain their luster for quite some time.