Cowhorse trainer Tim Unzicker explains why one of his bits is his favorite piece of equipment.

170117 unzicker bit
Tim Unzicker works a seasoned cow horse in his favorite bit.

Snaffle or spade, there is a bit shape and size for every horseman. Cow horse trainer Tim Unzicker prefers his well-used B.C. Silversmiths spade to most other bridle options in his barn.

“This bit has the roller set up off the tongue, not in line with the bar,” says the Roundup, Montana, trainer. “I think that feels better [to the horse] and it feels better to me. Most horses that I put it on like it better than bits that are straight across the bottom and have a roller with no tongue relief. I just try to find bits that hit middle of the road, not too tall [in the purchase] but not too short. Length of the shank the same thing. I tend to hit middle of the road in all the gear I like.”

bit close up
This well used B.C. Silversmiths spade bit offers more tongue relief than spades with straight mouthpieces, which Unzicker finds appeals to his horses.

Whether riding a horse transitioning from a hackamore to a spade bit, or working with a seasoned cow horse, Unzicker selects this bit from the many options in his barn. It is worn, shows the marks of use and the joints are no longer as stiff. To Unzicker, that only adds to the appeal.

“This is one [bit] that has gotten looser. I like how the bit moves as it has worn,” he says. “It has a ‘click’ to it, I think. I think there is more of a signal to it before you make contact with the horse’s mouth. They feel a little thump in there before anything actually makes contact. The more it gets worn, the more I like it.”

In accordance with National Reined Cow Horse Association rules, Unzicker rides only in a leather curb strap. This bit, with its solid mouth piece and rolling cricket, perfectly fits legal regulations and the trainer’s needs. It is his go-to gear for training and show.

Unzicker horseback
A previous Montana Reined Cow Horse Association president and successful NRCHA competitor, Tim Unzicker focuses on creating cow-savvy, responsive horses that ride in the traditional bridle horse ways.

Read how Tim Unzicker trains his cow horses in frigid conditions in the October 2017 issue of Western Horseman. For more information, visit



Write A Comment