The easier bit to make for a model horse is an O-ring snaffle, which is easily represented by an appropriately sized jump rings. For some scales, there are beautifully cast bits available in many types that mimic the variety seen in the real horse world. For stablemate scale and below, however, one generally needs to make one’s own bits.
About Kimberwick(e) Bits
In my quest for nostalgic realism I checked my old pictures to see what kind of bit I used when I rode Jaime. I found that I was riding him in a Kimberwicke, or more accurately an Uxeter Kimberwicke.
A Kimberwicke bit has bit shanks, D-rings, and a curb chain. Because the bit has shanks, it can be considered a type of curb bit. However, because the shanks are short and the bit has no lever arms (the part of the Western curb bit that hangs down below the horse’s mouth and chin), the curb action is very minimal. To increase or decrease the curb action, one can use an Uxeter Kimberwicke, which has slots in the D-ring to fix the reins in one position. If the reins are in the upper slot, the bit creates little curb action. If they are in the lower slot, there is more leverage and more curb action.
Although originally Kimberwicke bits were made with a mouth port, they are made today with a variety of mouthpieces including a simple jointed mouthpiece (as Jaime had).
Notice the way the Kimberwicke D-ring sits in a horses mouth with the straight part horizontal, instead of vertically like with a D-ring snaffle.
Making a Kimberwicke in Stablemate Scale
Please note that because I am re-creating this bit on such a small scale, some detail must be overlooked so that I can retain the scale. This tutorial could probably be modified to create a Kimberwicke for larger models, with more accurate details.
The first thing to do is to create your bit rings. I fiddled with several designs before settling on this one. It’s a horizontal D-ring with a smaller ring at the top to accommodate the cheek strap and the curb chain. You will need to use small gauge wire (I think mine is 22 or 24 gauge) and make the upper ring as small as possible using round nosed pliers.
The hardest part for me of creating my own bits is to make the two sides match. Also, be sure to hold them up to your horse to make sure the scale is accurate.
Next, attach the D-rings to your bridle cheek pieces by slipping the cheek strap through the smaller, upper ring of the bit. Take care that the cheek strap is lying parallel to the straight part of the D-ring so that the bit will lie properly (see the pictures above).
Next up is the curb chain. You will need teensy, tiny chain for this. I use #CC2(S) Fine Cable Chain in silver from The World of Model Horse Collecting on eBay (the same stuff I used on my SM Show Halter).
You will need a length of chain roughly equal to the bottom part of your bridle’s nose band. Although the wire hooks to attach the chain will add length, this will make the chain hang a bit under the horses chin, as it should when no pressure is being applied to the reins. I used about 1 cm of length. Take your tiny wire and run a length through each side the the chain. Crimp the edge firmly so that it holds onto the chain. Keep the crimp very small.
Next, make a small hook on the other side of the wire on both ends of the curb chain. This hook with attach through the small upper ring on the bit. Slide it carefully in and crimp the hook shut. You will not need to hook the chain to put the bridle on, so attach it securely.
Attach the curb chain hooks to each side of the bit. Check the fit on the horse. You made need to bend the wire of the curb chain a little so that it drapes nicely to match the drape of the chain. To put the bridle on your model, simply keep the chain under the horses chin and then sticky wax the cheek pieces as you normally would.
A Note on Kimberwickes
Because a Kimberwicke bit can be classified as a type or curb or pelham bit, in the real horse world Kimberwickes are generally not allowed in dressage or show hunter classes. However, for model horses, a pelham is described by NAMSHA as: “A bit with two reins but only one headstall, attached to the curb portion” (from the IMEHA Performance Guide to Dressage Events). Because a Kimberwicke is used with only one rein, for model horses this bit is acceptable. You may want to note the NAMSHA rule for your judge, however.
Another note that may be helpful for your entry is that the horse is ridden by a junior rider. Kimberwickes are often used for smaller riders on strong horses because they provide slightly more control and leverage than a snaffle. I suspect this was my trainer’s point at the time when she had me using a Kimberwicke on the large, but very gentle, Jaime.