Confused by all of the different types of bits out there? Don’t worry, we were once, too.
To help clear things up, we’re going to talk about a few of the most common types of snaffles, which are bits that you’ll see everywhere from both the barn to the show ring (think the hunter and equitation rings).
Snaffles have many uses, but they are often used for amateur riders. Snaffle bits typically have 2 metal joints that clasp together in the middle. When you apply pressure on the reins, this bit bends upwards and applies pressure on the horse’s mouth. Snaffles are one of the simplest types of bits and apply less pressure on a horse’s mouth than a bit with more leverage, such as a Pelham bit.
Below are 3 of the most common forms of snaffle bits.
Photo courtesy of Pexels
True to its name, the sides of the D-ring snaffle are each shaped like the letter ‘D.’ The D-ring is essentially a cross between a full-cheek snaffle and an eggbutt snaffle (more on those below). When the rider pulls on the reins, pressure is not only applied on the horse’s mouth, but the D-shaped rings on either side of this bit also apply an extra bit of pressure on the sides of the horse’s face, giving him greater encouragement to turn and respond to the rider’s cues.
This bit–along with the full-cheek snaffle–are usually what you’ll see horses wearing in the hunter ring.
Photo courtesy of Deviantart/HorseStockPhotos
Make an ‘ok’ symbol with your fingers and you have about two-thirds of a full-cheek snaffle. This bit features a small, circular ring on either end along with a set of vertical bars. The tops of these bars are often attached to the bridle with small straps known as keepers. Keepers hold the bit in place so that the bars remain vertical, and they can be removed for when the time comes to clean the bit.
The bars on either side of the bit’s mouthpiece are designed to add an extra bit of pressure on the top portion of the horse’s bridle when pressure is applied on the reins. The bars also help prevent the bit from sliding side-to-side in the horse’s mouth.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay/Perlenmuschel
Sounds funny, doesn’t it? You’ll recognize this snaffle by the oval-shaped ring on either side of the mouthpiece (kind of like the shape of an egg). This bit is thick at its ends and narrows towards its center. Eggbutt snaffles are generally considered to be one of the most mild bit choices due to their gentleness on the horse’s mouth. They are most commonly used for basic and amateur riding, as well as for training younger horses who have to get used to having a bit in their mouth.
A major benefit of this bit is that its thicker sides prevent the horse’s mouth from being pinched by the sides of the mouthpiece. The shape of the bit also keeps it pretty fixed in the horse’s mouth so, like the full-cheek snaffle, this bit won’t be doing much sliding around.
When choosing what bit you should use with your own horse or pony, it’s best to do your research and consult with a trainer or advisor who can help you make the best decision. Your experience level, your horse’s training and temperament, and the types of classes you want to compete in all play a factor in what type of bit you should be using, and as you probably know, there are many, many bits to choose from.