4 of Amy Jo Reisdorfer’s Favorite Bits

Amy Jo Reisdorfer talks through a few of her favorite barrel racing bits for training and competition.

Photographs by Michaela Jaycox

Amy Jo Reisdorfer talks through a few of her favorite barrel racing bits for training and competition.

“I’m like every other barrel racer, I have a massive bit obsession,” said Amy Jo Reisdorfer, eight-time Mountain States Circuit Finals Rodeo qualifier and barrelracing.com coach. 

“I love the short-shank Neil Merrill with the dog bone. I pretty much start everything in that, that’s my first basic bit. I like to go back to that one frequently just for tune-ups or to ride rodeo horses,” said the Cheyenne, Wyo., barrel racer. 

Short-shank Merrill bit with a dog bone mouthpiece.

“One of my favorite bits definitely right now and in the past year has been the Flaharty banana bit with a chain mouthpiece. I don’t have anything I run in this, but it’s really great to keep a horse square, to keep their shoulders up. This thing is amazing,” she said. 

Reisdorfer has had particularly good results using Flaharty’s chain bit to reinforce collection on horses that tend to want to drop their shoulder toward the barrel, or on other horses that hollow out their ribcage.

Reisdorfer likes working horses in the Flaharty chain bit with banana shank to help reinforce correct frame and body position.

“Those ones are the bits I pretty much ride daily for drills, or even just exercising horses,” said Reisdorfer. “Then for running bits, I have probably three favorites.” 

Competition Bits

Reisdorfer says she has had great success with a medium shank gag bit with the three-piece dog bone mouthpiece because it has a natural feel and works well with her light-handed style of riding. 

“It has a lot of bend,” she said. “I’m more of a fan of three-piece mouthpieces, they just seem to fit my hands better. I’m pretty light and so I feel like this just seems to have a softer feel in their mouth.”

This simple three-piece gag bit is one of Reisdorfer’s go-to competition bits.

Reisdorfer looks to a bit design with a little less gag in cases where she needs a quicker response. 

“If I need a horse to speed up and just be more immediate, I really like this Carolina,” she said. “I have it in a long shank, which I tend to use more outdoors, it’s got a three-piece mouth with a big twist. I don’t usually have to go to the small twist, but I have it if I need to. Most of the time, and definitely indoors, I just like the short-shank Carolina.”

This short-shank Carolina with a lifesaver mouthpiece is a light bit that provides quick reaction ideal for making indoor runs.

Mullens & More

Reisdorfer adds that her collection of bits also includes mullen mouthpieces for horses that tend to get a little too “noodle-y.” 

“I have mullens in short and medium shanks,” she said. “I also have some hackamores. We run a lot indoors up here in the winter, so I don’t need a lot [of bridle] with my hands. I cue a lot off my legs and seat.”

Reisdorfer’s extensive bit collection includes several options of bits with mullen mouthpieces, hackamores and more.

Reisdorfer says she will typically go back to something like the short shank Merrill during the week when she is riding and tuning, which helps keep her horses soft, responsive, and prepared for competition.  

Author’s Note: Troy Flaharty, custom bit and spur maker and owner of Flaharty Bits and Spurs, will be presenting a bit clinic at the Southpoint Hotel and Casino on Dec., 10, FMI visit barrelracing.com.

About Bonnie Wheatley

Bonnie Wheatley brings a lifetime of professional experience in the Western industry to her role as Barrel Racing Content Director for BarrelRacing.com and Barrel Racing Magazine. She grew up immersed in ranching and the Western lifestyle before graduating from the University of California at Davis and relocating to the eastern plains of Colorado. When not researching and writing exciting new content, Wheatley enjoys running barrels, showing reined cow horses, cheering at her daughter Sage’s sporting events, and for her husband, Scot, and son, Regan, at team ropings and horse shows.