Friday, January 11, 2013

Review of the Bitten bit warmer

While shopping at one of our local tack stores before Christmas, I discovered the Bitten: a bit warmer that makes use of disposable hand warmers (like what you can buy in sports equipment stores) to warm the bit.  I'd heard before that bit warmers didn't work very well, so I was skeptical, but I decided to try it out anyway.

The Bitten is like a really thick canvas wallet that folds up around your bit, with two mesh pockets designed to hold a hand warmer on each side.  When it's all closed up, it gets pretty warm in there, and warms your bit while you tack up.

I was a bit skeptical initially, so I only bought one to start, but I found that the Bitten actually worked really well.  It comes with two of the large-size hand warmers, plus two resealable plastic bags that you can use to "shut off" the heat.  Did you know that those disposable hand warmers are reusable if you don't use them all up the first time?  I sure didn't!  But if you seal off the oxygen going to them in a zip-lock bag, you can save what's left for another time... and another... and another.  I've used my current pair a handful of times to warm Panama's bit, and although I don't know how many reuses they have left in them, I haven't had to replace them yet.

The instructions say to put the hand warmers and the bit in the Bitten when you first start grooming and tacking, and the bit will be warm by the time you're done.  I found that to be not quite true.  The hand warmers take 15 minutes or so to warm up, especially if you are reusing them, so I always get them started as I'm leaving my house for the barn.  Then, by the time I get to the barn, they have nearly warmed up, and I can put the Bitten on the bit while I go catch Panama, groom him and tack.  By the time we're ready for the bit, it's warm -- not as warm as if I'd run it under hot water, but warm enough that it won't be uncomfortable for him.  I know he likes it because he's stopped making faces.  (He has never resisted the bit, and in fact he seems to like it, but when it's cold he makes funny faces once it's in.)

The instructions say you can use the bit warmer as a body or hand warmer while you're riding, and it comes with a lanyard to hang it around your neck for that purpose, but I haven't tried that.  I find it's more useful to take out the hand warmers once I'm done warming the bit, and put them in the inside pockets of my jacket.  That works pretty well to keep me warm.

In any case, I liked the bit warmer enough to buy a second one for Rondo -- I usually ride them one at a time, so it's not a huge issue, but I wanted to be able to warm both bits at the same time if I'm doing something with both horses (such as, say, riding Rondo while I have a kid on Panama -- something I'm intending to do at some point).  Plus, I wanted to have one in "Rondo's" color (purple), as well as Panama's (the green).

The best part is, the Bitten is fairly inexpensive: $20 online (though my tack store has it for a little less), and the disposable heat packs are only $1.  Once the extra-large heat packs run out, I'm also going to try it with the regular sized ones, to see if those work as well (they are $1 for the pair).

A great product, and one I highly recommend for anyone who keeps their bridles in a cold tack room or trailer!

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