Today is TidBIT Tuesday and we're going to talk about rollers! While the common perception is that these are clicky and delightful playthings, the wrong roller can lead to a world of hurt for your horse.
So what types of rollers are there? There are three main types of rollers.
1) Droolers or "Cheerio" rollers. These are loops of copper wire hammered together around the central joiner of the bit. Typically not welded, they often have a rough edge that can grab the tongue.
2) Barrel Rollers. Smooth and narrow rollers that lay in the center of the bit. These are DIFFERENT from roller joints, as this barrel is freely active on a solid mouthpiece.
3) Bead Roller. These rollers are shorter and thicker than barrel rollers, typically with grooves on the outside.
How Rollers Effect Mouth Feel.
I'm going to go through each of these in turn. The numbers are purely for organization purposes. The red line illustrates whether the roller lies within the port, the light pink indicates tongue shape.
1) This bead roller lies within the port, so it allows some tongue relief. It does, however, create a "bumpy" feel on the tongue, as the tongue rises into the port but is depressed in the center by the bead roller.
2) This bead roller lies outside of the port. This will cause a constant pressure point on the tongue. The lower left image illustrates a more severe version of this. The bead is also thicker than the rest of the mouthpiece, so it will press into the tongue even when completely at rest. The lower right image shows a side view of a bit with a similar effect at rest. With bit number 2, the horse has no relief from the roller digging into its tongue.
3) This roller lies within the port. With this bit, the roller actually serves a purpose. It prevents too much of the tongue from becoming too bunched within the horseshoe shaped port (a topic for a different day). The roller is slightly wider than the mouthpiece, so it will create a pressure point at rest.
4) This barrel roller lies easily within the port. This bit provides maximum tongue relief, with little interference from the roller. The pressure it does apply is distributed across a larger area, and thus is less severe.