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What is a Port?

What is a Port and Why is it Used?

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Port on a Western Bit

This is a very high port on a Western style curb correction bit.

Photo 2008 K. Blocksdorf
A port is an inverted "U" in the middle of the mouthpiece in some bits. A very low port may appear to be only a slight rise, while a very high port can be quite high. A very low port allows room for the horse's tongue and is sometimes called a tongue relief.Some snaffle bits have a port, but they are most commonly seen on curb bits. Some ports will also have a roller that connects the two branches of the U.

A high port, in addition to giving the tongue relief, also places pressure on the palate of the horse's mouth when the reins are pulled. Used improperly, a high ported bit can be very painful or damaging for a horse's mouth.

Ports that are solid, rather than made of a U shaped bar are actually called spoons or spades, although they look somewhat similar. These do not provide tongue relief. The spade or spoon may include elaborate rollers or "crickets", double mouthpieces and are only used on very well trained horses by skillful riders who understand the severity of the bit they are using.

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