Mikmar History

The Mikmar Bit Company started in 1953 with the invention of the Training Bit.This lightweight bit (14 ounces) was designed to develop vertical flexion, lateral flexion, or just a good mouth. It is the most outstanding, tried and proven training bit yet perfected. The bit was invented back in the early 50's by all-around horseman, Trainer Frank Evans, who, by unanimous vote from the American Horse Show Association, was awarded the highly prestigious Judges Emeritus Award. In his work as a professional horse trainer, he made a training bit to accomplish these main objectives:

  • An all-around bit for everyday use on trail and in arena.
  • Effective results without abuse.
  • A bit with three pressure points - nose, jaw, and bar or tongue.
  • To put pressure at the most responsive points.
  • To maintain the horse's soft, fresh mouth over time.
  • To protect the horse's mouth while a new rider was learning to ride.
  • To provide a satisfactory transition when changing from a snaffle to a hard or leverage bit.
  • Professional results for the amateur trainer.

The founder of the Mikmar Bit Company, Frank Evans, had been around horses all his life. He grew up on an 800-acre farm in Kansas which had between 100 and 300 head of horses and mules. His family moved to California in 1924. In 1943, he opened the Buckeye Ranch in El Cajon, California and professionally trained horses for well over 50 years. He was awarded the highly prestigious Judges Emeritus Award by unanimous vote from the American Horse Show Association. He was also a senior judge, and at one time held 12 judging cards including Arabian, Morgan, Quarter Horse, and Western. In 1971, he was one of 22 people selected by the International Arabian Association to draw up the judging rules for Arabian shows. In his career he had numerous National Arabian trail horse champions and an Appaloosa  who was World Trail Horse, English Pleasure and Western Pleasure champion.   Like many great ideas, this one came in a flash of inspiration. Frank was all too aware of the problems that can happen in a horse's mouth at the hands of an inexperienced rider. He knew about bits - that the snaffle bit put pressure on the bar or tongue. The hackamore put pressure on the nose and jaw, and the leverage bit put pressure on the bar or tongue and the jaw. Frank kept thinking he needed something to soften the impact on the mouth, which inspired him to add a soft rope over the nose to actuate the bit, but soften the jolt.

Frank made history that day. The word spread fast and soon the Mikmar bit was in use in amateur and professional training circles, helping to train world and national champions. Frank went on to build a worldwide reputation as a trainer of champions, and a leader in competition circles. But it was his Mikmar bit that revolutionized training, and fulfilled the Frank Evans goal - to protect the horse while training the rider. He knew that the inexperienced rider - with all the good intentions in the world - can still get into the mouth and cause problems. In addition, having a horse in a hard bit all the time can also cause the mouth to harden and go sour. These are problems Frank Evans confronted for many years, and he found a solution in the Mikmar Training Bit.  He always trained the horse with a good mouth and a good head set so that the horse would be safe, even for the green rider. But many riders need time to develop good hands. It is very easy to mess up the mouth, so riders needed a bit that was mild but effective.

Like many problems in the horse business, this problem came to a head with a real live situation: a horse and rider trying to work together. He had a client, a vice-president of a bank,who was a great banker but a terrible rider. He needed something to protect the horse's mouth while the owner was learning to ride.  He rigged up a model of the Mikmar Training Bit, tried it, and it worked. The bit, like many inventions made for one purpose, also turned out to be an excellent on-going training aid. He found that the Mikmar Training Bit could be used at all stages of training. It provides effective pressure for training without causing the problems of using a hard bit all the time. It gives the amateur and professional trainer a choice other than too soft or too hard.

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