Thursday, 14 January 2010

A "BIT" Special - part 1 of 3 - Snaffles.


There are many factors that should be considered when choosing which bit is appropriate for your horse, for advice on which is most suitable for your needs, someone with lots of experience who knows you and your horse should be consulted.

Bits work on many different areas of the horse’s head: the tongue, bars, corners of mouth and lips, roof of mouth, side of fact, chin groove, poll and nose.

There are essentially five difference types of bit. All work on different areas of the horse and therefore have a different result. Within the different types, bits have varying severity, for example, in the snaffle family, a Dr Bristol is far more severe than a French Link, even though they are both snaffles. To help explain how this works, we have had a look at the different families of bit to help you decide which one is right for you.


Snaffles can be used for all sorts of equestrian activities and can be straight bar, single jointed or double jointed. The number of joints has an influence on which areas of the mouth the bit works on, for example:

A straight bar will work on the lips, the bars of the mouth and tongue.

A single jointed has what is known as a ‘nutcracker’ action which means that when the reins are pulled, the tongue is squeezed as the bit closes. A single jointed also works on the bars of the mouth and the lips.

A double jointed has no nutcracker action but works on the bars of the mouth and the lips.

There can also be a variation on the types of rings which link the bridle to the bit. These can be:
  • Fixed to prevent pinching
  • Loose to allow more movement
  • D Ring to help to prevent the bit being pulled through the mouth and aid steering
  • Full Cheek which has full sides to help with steering and a fixed ring to prevent pinching
  • Fulmer which has full sides to help with steering and loose rings to allow more movement
  • Hanging cheek to prevent the horse getting his tongue over the bit due to the fact that the bit is suspended in the mouth.
As you can see, there are a myriad of difference options, but there are also some general guidelines regarding snaffles, for example:
 - the thicker the mouthpiece the milder the bit, and
 - any uneven surface inside the mouth increases the severity.

Part 2 will cover: Double, Pelham, Gags and Bitless.

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