Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Personal observations- snaffle vs. curb in finished horse

My main mare Pie has been off for the better part of 3 years due to work, both our pregnancies, and now juggling work and a baby.

Starting in last month I have been able to focus on riding more so I will be posting some of my experiences.

For the past few years I have ridden her in this.

Looking to brush off the cobwebs in her mid I decided to start back in this. 

I rode her twice in the snaffle and then put her back in her regular curb.

I have written quite a bit on bits and biting if you need a refresher.

Some of my observations:

There was a slight dullness in using the snaffle on Pie's advanced maneuvers compared to her usual curb. Without the leverage and angle of the shank to she did not have the "yellow light" to warn her that the bit was about to be engaged which made her less reactive/dull.  No having the "yellow light" warning the snaffle made me spend more time in her mouth.  

Her shoulder yields were less fluid in the jointed snaffle over the 3 piece mouthpiece of the curb.  The Jointed mouthpiece on the snaffle engaged both sides of her mouth vs the one side that is usually touched by the curb making for a less fluid movement.  

Having been ridden in a ported mouthpiece for so long Pie did not enjoy the lack of tongue relief she had in the snaffle, she chopped on the bit. 

In general I felt a lack of finesse taking Pie back down to a snaffle.   


I feel that it is important to remember to view our bits as tools for communication.  

The anatomy of a simple jointed snaffle can make it harder for you to clearly communicate what you want your horse to do.  Especially when trying to do advanced maneuvers.  

Excessive bit play can be a call for tongue relief.

At the end of the day this experiment was a reminder that if your really want to achieve a super light bridle horse you may have to move up into a curb for some parts of your training or at least look further than a simple jointed mouthpiece.  

Of course no bit is a substitute for good training, timing and your release of pressure are what really determine how light and responsive your horse is but the right bit can aid in your horse's understanding and speed up the training process.  

Note:  All observations in the post were based on the experiences riding a very broke, light, and responsive horse.  The changes noted between the snaffle and curb were very minor but still enough to be noted.    

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