So I ran across this bit the other day and since I have kids and beginners in for lessons my horses mouths getting sore has been a big concern. Does a leather bit help with comfort.
I found this one online and it looks like it would be really nice.
Leather bits are supposed to be softer in the horse's mouths.
I tried a leather bit (not the Meroth) on a horse who would constantly grind his stainless steel bits between his molars. He was a little quieter in the leather snaffle but he still ground the leather bit some between his molars and his teeth cut through some of the leather. Moral, do not put a leather bit in the mouth of a horse who grinds his bit between his teeth.
The Meroth leather snaffle looks like the best made one I've seen, I particularly like the chin strap. Maybe someday I will be able to add one to my bit collection.
Sore mouths come from abusive hands. Beginners cannot control their hands enough to not abuse the horse's mouth. It is best for beginners to ride mostly on loose reins until they get their lower legs steady. ANY bit can make a horse's mouth sore if the hands are not steady.
If I was teaching beginners I would probably put a bitless bridle on the horse. For what it is worth my riding teacher does not agree with me about this, but she does not allow her riders to ride on contact until they are reasonably steady in the saddle. None of her lesson horses end up with sore mouths. She will put a bitless bridle on for a beginner who is riding on a sensitive mouthed horse (some Arabs), but for all the others she uses bits even for a beginner's first ride.
The Meroth® leather snaffle is the only patented snaffle made from non-toxic, plant-tanned leather, features a break-away and is therefore all around safe.
It is sad how many 'knock offs' are out there now. The knockoffs are made from toxic 'normal' leather (chemically tanned) and do not feature a break-away. I ordered them myself to see the difference.
So I can absolutely recommend the Meroth® leather snaffle — but please do your horse a favor and stay away from the knock-offs.
Grinding often stops when you use the Meroth®, but as Jackie Cochran mentioned, if it does not, the bit is ruined. More often than not, the Meroth® bit is a life-saver for those, who experience all sorts of bit problems.
The Meroth leather snaffle looks like it was developed by people who thought through the challenges of a leather bit.
The horse I tried the other type of leather bit has since died so I could not compare between the two, but the Meroth does look like it would not allow the horse to get the bit up to his grinding teeth because of the chin strap. I presume that the chin strap goes over the curb groove, and is relatively snug to keep the bit in place.
Recently I rode another dedicated grinder, a 7 yr. old OTTB, who prefers thicker bits, does NOT like the taste of stainless steel, hates leather bit guards, and prefers a single jointed snaffle. I tried titanium bits on him, the grinding was less, more like a reflective grinding, occasionally, instead of sheer determination to shred the metal bit to little, tiny pieces. Luckily if the bit fits well lengthwise he keeps him mouth completely quiet on contact, he only grinds the bit on loose reins. It would be interesting to see how he reacted to the Meroth bit, as well as the other riding school horses I ride.
An update to this popular blog post:
Here a new link to the Meroth Freedom Leather Snaffle Bit.