Jim Edwards, is a bit maker from Blum, Texas. Originally from New Mexico, Jim has been making bits and trading horses for over 40 years, so his designs have been developed through the application of horsemanship to superior craftsmanship, and are field tested every day. His bits have been used on NRHA, NCHA and NSBA winners from Coast to Coast. Regular customers and design collaborators include Tim McQuay, Chubby Turner, Pete Branch, Phil Rapp, Clint Haverty, Craig Johnson, Bob Loomis, Kobie and Paula Woods, Ronnie and Tag Rice, and many of the other highest money winning cutters and reiners who endorse other bit lines but use Jim’s.
Bitandspurcompany.com talked to Jim about the features of some of his most popular bits, and what horsemen should all have in their “toolbox”
First, some general comments about Jim’s bits. He and his son make all of the Edwards bits in Texas out of American made steel alloys. Contrary to “production” bits, and bits imported from overseas factories, Jim’s bits are guaranteed for life under normal use. The bits are designed to meet superior quality and performance goals as opposed to price parameters. In fact many of the most popular imported bits (think a highly successful bit line designed and endorsed by a West Coast trainer) are copies of Jim’s bits originally developed here in the States.
Here are the baics:
1. The Offset Dee 5/16” slow twist snaffle is the perfect bit for starting young horses. The bits are produced at the perfect weight to provide definitive cues and lay in the horses mouth without too much bounce. Bounce tends to divert a horse’s attention. Note that by offsetting the dee as opposed to using a ring it limits sores at the corner of the horse’s mouth.
2. After the horse is ready to graduate from the snaffle, the most common stage 2 bit is the Edwards 6” “C” shank loose jaw correction port bit. Consistent with Jim’s constant innovation, he now recommends his new correction mouthpiece featuring a slower transition between the port and the bars. This provides greater tongue relief than traditional correction ports. Jim says this is critical to slow and accurate cues to the horse as the bit, along with all of Jim’s other bits, is designed to provide no contact until there is rein contact. Jim’s bits, at rest, hang in the middle of the horse’s mouth- giving the horse the incentive to respond to the pressure from the reins.
3. For more seasoned horse’s Jim’s next favorites are the “high and wide” and the “299” port bits. These two solid mouthpieces, provide a bit more pressure to the horse- without the “shockiness” so common with lesser quality items. Jim stresses that the narrower the port, the more severe the bit. Horsemen are constantly surprised at the willingness of their mounts to “flex” with Jim’s bits as opposed to “flip” their heads. These two bits are perfect for the non-pro home use- not severe but solid. Perfect for straightening out horses that “lean” on the bits without causing them to overflex.
4. For the older horses- ones that tend to take the bit with their own ideas in mind, Jim recommends one of his newly designed “tall port” bits. These bits go to the roof of the horse’s mouth when pulled- but most importantly, provide complete tongue relief at rest. Note that on these bits Jim has endeavored to provide as much surface contact as possible- without using a bit that will hit a horse’s teeth. The greater surface contact serves to give the horse confidence again without the shockiness that is endemic in many cathedral ports.