The Snaffle Bit in Horse Training

The Snaffle Bit | Horse Bits in Horse Training

A snaffle bit is the most common type of bit used while riding horses. It consists of a bit mouthpiece with a ring on either side and acts with direct pressure.

The snaffle bit works on several parts of the horse’s mouth;

The mouthpiece of the bit acts on the tongue and bars

The lips of the horse also feel pressure from both the mouthpiece and the rings.

The rings also serve to act on the side of the mouth, and, depending on design, the sides of the jawbone.

The mouthpiece is the more important part of a snaffle, as it controls the severity of the bit.

Snaffle Bits - loose ring snaffle

Thinner or rougher snaffle bit mouthpieces are more severe.

The Jointed mouthpiece : applies pressure to the tongue, lips, and bars using a nutcracker action. This is the most common mouthpiece found on a snaffle.

The Mullen mouth : made of hard rubber or a half-moon of metal, it places even pressure on the mouthpiece, lips, and bars. A very mild mouthpiece.

Types of Snaffle Bit.

The French Link :

a double-jointed mouthpiece with a bone-shaped link in the middle. It reduces the nutcracker action and encourages the horse to relax. Very mild.

Dr. Bristol :

a double-jointed mouthpiece with a flat rectangular link in the middle. Applies pressure in the same way as the French link, but slightly more severe, because the link in the middle is angled to put the thin edge against the tongue, lips, and bar, creating a pressure point.

Slow twist :

a single-jointed mouthpiece with a slight twist in it. Stronger and more severe.

Corkscrew :

Many small edges amplifies the pressure on the mouth. Severe.

Single and Double-twisted wire :

two of the most severe mouthpieces, as they are not only thin, but they also have use a nutcracker action from the single joint and the mouthpiece concentrates pressure due to its severe twisting.

Eggbutt :

The gentlest type of snaffle bit is the Eggbutt snaffle. The name comes from the egg-shaped connection between the mouthpiece and the bit-ring. The mouthpiece of an eggbutt can be made of a variety of materials including copper and synthetic. This horse bit is gentle because it doesn’t pinch the corners of the mouth.

Roller mouthpiece’s :

tend to make a horse relax their mouth and activate the tongue, encouraging salivation and acceptance of the bit. They also create a distraction for tense or nervous horses.

Hollow mouth :

usually single-jointed with a thick, hollow mouthpiece which spreads out the pressure and makes the bit less severe. May not fit comfortably in some horses’ mouths if they are a little small.

Snaffle Bits - D ring snaffle

The D-Ring Snaffle Bit :

Another style of snaffle bit is the D-Ring snaffle. The name is self-explanatory in that the ring of the bit is in the shape of a "D".

In the Loose-Ring snaffle,

In this the mouthpiece is attached to a full-round ring, and can slide around on it, allowing the bit to lay in the most natural position, whatever horse it is used on.

Some snaffle bits, such as the Full Cheek Snaffle, have cheek-pieces which prevent the bit from being pulled through the mouth.


Snaffle Bit Rings …

There are several types of rings that affect the action of the snaffle bit.

Loose ring :

slides through the mouthpiece. Tends to make the horse relax his jaw and chew the bit. May pinch the corners of the horse’s mouth if the holes in the mouthpiece are large, in which case a bit guard should be used.

Eggbutt or barrel head :

mouthpiece does not rotate, and is fixed in the horses mouth and will not pinch the lips.

D-ring or racing snaffle :

ring in the shape of a D which does not allow the bit to rotate and so the bit is more fixed. The sides of the D provide a lateral guiding effect.

Baucher (hanging cheek) :

has a ring on the side of the mouthpiece, with a smaller ring above to attach the cheekpiece of the bridle. Tends to concentrate pressure on the bars. It is very fixed in the mouth.

Fulmer :

a full cheek bit with a loose ring attached, so that it not only has the lateral guiding effect, but can also move freely as with a loose ring.

Snaffle Bits - full cheek snaffle

Full cheek :

has long, extended arms above and below the mouthpiece on either side of the lips of the horse with a ring attached to it.

The cheeks have a lateral guiding effect, and also prevent the bit from sliding through the mouth.

The full cheek is often used with bit keepers to prevent the cheeks from getting caught on anything, and to keep the bit in the right position inside the mouth.

Half-cheek :

has only an upper or, more commonly, lower cheek, as opposed to both seen in a full cheek snaffle.

Often used in racing, as there is less chance of the cheek being caught on the starting gate, or in driving as there is less chance of getting caught on harness straps.

Local Riders
Consider all your horse bit and bridle options and make sure you choose the correct type, size and combination for the sort of work you want your horse to do.