Large iron horse bit: late 14th-early 15th century
© Museum of London
Full image caption
Large iron horse bit with long L-shaped cheek pieces at each side. At the bottom of these are the loopes for the reins, which are nearly worn through with use. Horses were essential to medieval life, and the manufacture of horse equipment was a skilled trade. Various designs of bit were available. This bit, from about 1400, is an early example of what was later called a 'Pelham' bit. It was fitted with two sets of reins, one set attached to the rings on either side of the horse's mouth, one set to the ends of the lower arms. When the lower reins were pulled, the bit turned in the horse's mouth, the leather strap over its head was pulled tight, and a chain tightened under its chin. This 'curb' action gave the rider firm control – particularly necessary on a warhorse in battle.
1360 AD - 1450 AD