What Are Snaffle Bits and How Do They Work?

What Are Snaffle Bits and How Do They Work?

Even if you don’t start with a snaffle bit, there’s a high chance you’ll use one at some point during your riding school. Understanding how the snaffle bit works will help you build effective rein aids and avoid being ineffective or harsh on your horse’s mouth.

Although most snaffle bits have the same fundamental function, it may take a few different bits to discover one that your horse is happy with. Even if you’re picking between snaffles, finding the proper bit might take some effort.

Snaffle Fundamentals

A snaffle bit features a mouthpiece, either straight or jointed, with rings on both ends. Snaffle bits come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The basic construction is the same for all, as is the basic action in the horse’s mouth, with a few minor differences. The snaffle bit is considered a gentle bit, and it may be made substantially harsher by adding wire wrapping or other comparable mouthpiece changes.

When You ‘Pull’ the Reins, What Happens?

When the reins are pulled, pressure is exerted on the gums called the bars of the mouth, which is devoid of teeth. This is the space between the front teeth, which crop grass, and the back teeth, ground food. A well-fitted bit fits snugly into this space, immediately forwarding the grinding teeth. Occasionally, a horse will have difficulty wearing a bit comfortably, necessitating the removal of little teeth known as wolf teeth or creating a bit seat.

The Horse’s Reaction to Signals

The basic snaffle puts pressure on the horse’s mouth bars. There is no pressure anywhere on the horse’s head, and there is no leverage, as there is with a curb bit. The horse will understand that equal pressure on both sides of its mouth means stop when you pull straight back. A pull to the right, which puts pressure on the right bar, indicates a right turn, whereas an appeal to the left, of course, means a left turn.

You’ll learn to cue your horse for leg yields, half-passes, lead changes, changes of gait, and other advanced riding techniques as you polish your rein aids and combine them with your seat and leg aids. While you may initially be just ‘pulling’ the reins, you will quickly learn to deliver far more delicate signals to the horse that are practically invisible to the typical spectator.

Bit Rings and Their Purpose

A snaffle’s rings can be D-shaped or have a tiny protrusion up or down, like a full cheek snaffle or a Fulmer snaffle. The rings can either slide or be permanently attached to the mouthpiece. The full cheek and driving bits have shafts perpendicular to the agent to keep the bit sliding through the horse’s mouth. Large leather or rubber discs can also be used to prevent the bit from chaffing the horse’s mouth’s sides. The rings can change the bit’s weight and keep it from pushing laterally through the horse’s mouth. ​

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