At Bits N Such one of the bit companies we work with is Bomber Bits. They have a unique story and we were excited to be able to interview Claire Lund. Claire wears a number of different hats within the company ranging from product support, retail education, and bit fitting. Bombers Equestrian Equipment is located in South Africa, you might have heard of their bits from their distinctive blue color.
Bombers Equestrian Equipment was started by Bomber Nel about 30 years ago. He originally started designing bits for his own horses while playing polo cross. During this time he had the chance to see how horses were responding to the bits they had and how he could fix any problems with different designs. He was able to form his philosophy from seeing these reactions over and over again. Bomber’s mission is to “make every horse as comfortable as possible, at the end of the day happy horses equals happy riders,” said Claire.
Claire spoke passionately about what makes Bombers Equestrian Equipment stand out from other companies: “The amount of thought that goes into every design, we spend time talking about it, looking at horse skulls, and then going and trying them on live horses.” Bomber makes bits for specific purposes, like head shaking or tongue issues, then adheres to the sports rules so that riders and horses can use them to the full benefit.
The question we always get from clients is: why are these bits blue??? The blue color comes from a heat treatment that changes the sweet iron when it reaches a certain temperature. “Only specific people do the heating, like an art, if too much heat is used it will turn purple,” said Claire.
Sweet iron is used by Bomber because it causes more salivation., quickly warms to body temperature and is an appropriate texture. The sweet iron will oxidize when in contact with saliva or water. To keep the bit from rusting it is important to “wash after every use with plan water and dry immediately, that is best practice!” said Claire. If the bit is being stored it should be cleaned and dried, then stored in a dry place. If storage is not ideal, you can rub some vegetable oil on the bit to prevent oxidization. As the bit is used it will change to more of a metal color instead of the blue, which is normal and changes as it oxidizes in the mouth.
Bombers makes their bits out of sweet iron, plastic synthetic material, and titanium.
“Almost everything is done is our factory,” said Claire, “which sets us apart from everyone else.” 90% of the bits are made with locally sourced raw material and 100% of the manufacturing process is in house or locally sourced. “We hire welders, but once they are here it is entirely different, like making jewelry, instead of big welding jobs,” said Claire.
Bombers is able to make a wide variety of bits in this way, so how does one go about finding which bit to use? Claire recommends finding a professional bit fitter: “it is an excellent idea because the professional will be able to feel things in the horses mouth that may not be picked up on otherwise.”
Not all fitters have the same expertise, when looking for a fitter a rider should look for: “experience, the more mouths that a fitter has touched and seen the better. The more advanced of a rider the fitter is, the better they are in interpreting what the horse is doing without the riders feed back,” said Claire.
Making the horse just accept whatever bit we throw in the mouth is becoming a thing of the past! If you make the horse comfortable, they will give you a better response. Which is why it is important to find the right bit. Claire explains it perfectly, “ horses have a flight response, they run away from the uncomfortable. When the horse is comfortable they are not fighting the flight response and the rider is not fighting the equipment.”
Horse owners should start looking in their horses’ mouths! When we asked Claire what owners should be paying attention to, she asked, “Is everything too much?” She recommended teaching your horse to have their mouth examined. “You need to look if they’ve picked up an injuries,” Claire said. “Riders should look at the confirmation on the horse’s mouth.” It is also important to find a good equine dentist. Claire and Kim both recommend using a veterinarian that also went to equine dental school.
And just incase you are thinking you do not need to look in your horse’s mouth…..
Claire has two great examples of why you should!
A horse was purchased and the rider needed some help bitting. When the mouth was opened “ half the tongue was missing, and the rider never knew!” said Claire. “A pre-purchase never goes near the mouth! Now this horse has a disability, because no one was ever taught to look in the mouth.”
Another horse had broken his jaw as a youngster. One of the bars was collapsed and much lower than the other side. He also had an extremely narrow mouth, with canine teeth 5 cm in front of the molars. This creates a super challenging bitting situation, and while most cases are not this extreme, what if no one had ever looked in the horse’s mouth?
Thank you, Claire, for sharing your knowledge with us! You can find Bombers Equestrian Equipment at: https://www.bombers.co.za/
Or their Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bombersequestrian/
Contact us with any questions via email: email@example.com or phone: 901-286-8892.