About These Guidelines

These guidelines should be used in conjunction with the current Montana 4-H State Horse Show Rulebook and Working Ranch Horse Rules. These rulebooks, which are available on the Montana 4-H web site's Horse Project pages, provide additional information about bits, other equipment and attire for respective classes.

Because the Montana 4-H Horse Program is diverse, it is difficult to generate a complete list of acceptable bits. Bits that are permitted by respective breed associations may be acceptable at the judge's discretion. A judge at his/her discretion can penalize a horse with non-conventional types of bits. Please understand that this resource is a guide and gives only examples of legal and unacceptable bits. In no way does it try to include every bit that is allowed or prohibited.

If exhibitors have questions concerning a bit they wish to use, and that specific bit is not mentioned in the current rules or these guidelines, then exhibitors should ask the equipment steward(s) and/or the judge(s) if the bit is acceptable for that show. Exhibitors should have alternative bits available so that they can make a change if it is determined by show officials that their preferred bit is unacceptable for the event.

Each county, district or regional, and state show is officiated by different stewards and judges. Therefore, exhibitors must seek approval from show officials at each show before using the questionable bit. Members should consult with professionals in their riding discipline or contact the appropriate breed association for guidance in selecting a bit in order to find one that is both appropriate and acceptable for use in Montana 4-H horse events.


Montana 4-H and the Montana 4-H State Horse Committee extend our gratitude to the Florida 4-H State Horse Program and the New England 4-H Horse Program as creators of the original content upon which Motnana's guide is based. Credit is also given to developers Wendy DeVito, Saundra TenBroeck, Joel McQuagge. The Florida and New England manuals are the most comprehensive guides of bits available to the 4-H community and their materials have been adopted for our use with their permission. The original content has been slightly modified for use in Montana.

How to Use This Guide

Bits and equipment are grouped into categories (Western, Ranch, and Speed Events; English- Hunter, and Saddle/Gaited). Images shown are labeled as either:


Acceptable with conditions:

exhibitor must verify that measurements, etc. on equipment meet specific requirements. 

Not Allowed




Acceptable with conditions (exhibitor must verify that measurements, etc. on equipment meet specific requirements.)


Not Allowed