How to choose a Western bit for your horse, Part 1 – Types of bits
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How to choose a Western bit for your horse, Part 1 – Types of bits

October 28, 2019

ROBB THOMAS: Hi, my name is Robb Thomas. I’m with Reinsman Equestrian. And we’re going to talk a little bit about
bits and bitting today. Basically, there are three types of bits. The two most common types are going to be
a snaffle bit and a curb bit. And then the third bit is going to be a hackamore. One thing about a snaffle bit is it is a bit
that specifically delivers direct pressure to the bit and then again to the horse’s mouth. There’s no shank involved. A snaffle bit is usually a ring bit, a dee
bit, some sort of an eggbutt bit. But it’s a bit that does not involve any sort
of a shank. So when the rider pulls back on the reins,
engages the reins, which pulls back on the bit, the bit sends a pressure signal to the
horse’s mouth that something is going to happen. Some sort of action needs to result. Those are what we call ‘direct pressure’ bits
or snaffle bits. There’s a little bit of a misconception in
the industry where manufacturers and consumers use the term ‘snaffle’ pretty loosely, and
they use that how it relates to the mouth piece and not the bit itself. There are manufacturers and consumers that
would refer to this type of a bit and a bit that has a shank to it as a snaffle
mouthpiece. This is incorrect. This is actually a three-piece mouthpiece. This is actually a two-piece mouthpiece. Snaffles can have a one-piece – a solid mouth
-, a two-piece, a three-piece, or a multi-piece mouthpiece, for example a chain-type mouth. Curbs can have the exact same thing. They can have a single-piece, more of a Mullen colt
starter, two-piece, three-piece chain, multi-piece with a port. So the term snaffle does not relate to the
mouth, it relates to the type of bit and the bit that provides direct pressure to the horse. A curb bit on the other hand is a bit that
provides leverage and pressure in multiple places, if not all places on a horse. When we look at pressure points on the horse,
we kinda work top to bottom, it’s easier for me to remember that way. So you’ve got the poll, the top part of the
horse’s head. You work down, you’ve got the nose. You work inside the mouth, you’ve got the
tongue, the bars of the horse’s mouth, the lips, the outside part of the cheeks, and
the chin. A curb bit – a bit that has a shank – that
provides leverage will affect one or all of those, depending upon how the head gear is
rigged. As the rider pulls back on the reins, the
shank will begin to engage, which will engage the mouthpiece. It will engage the headstall or pressure at
the poll, and then the curb chain or the curb strap, depending on which one you use – your
preference -, will engage, and all three of those together through the leverage will provide
the action or the reaction that the horse and the rider are looking for. Those are the quick two differences between
snaffles and curbs. The third one that we mentioned was a hackamore. Hackamores are in the two categories, as well. There can be a direct pressure, which is a
traditional bosal or a side pull. There’s nothing that goes inside the horse’s
mouth – the pressure is around the horse’s nose and in the poll. Or a leverage type bit – one that involves
a shank that provides pressure across the nose, through the shank action, through the
curb chain, and then again through the poll. For more information on bits and bitting or
any other Reinsman products, please contact your SmartPak Customer Care
team or visit them at Have a great ride.

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