Top Problems in Using the Snaffle Bit and Their Solutions
The snaffle bit is recognized as the simplest and mildest of all categories of horse bits. It is different from a curb bit. Curb bits use leverage, while snaffle bits don’t. This means that snaffle bit uses direct contact in order to control and command the horse. For instance, if the rider puts five pounds of force on the rein, the horse will feel exactly the same amount of force in his mouth. The horse will also determine more quickly if his rider wants him to go left or right. But in a curb bit, it might be a little difficult. Since the curb bit uses leverage, it is hard for the horse to determine which direction to go. Once the rider pulls the rein, the curb chains just squeeze the jaw, leaving the horse clueless if the pull was on the left or on the right. But frankly speaking, it’s not always rainbow and easy horseback riding in snaffle bits. Problems and difficulties do arise in certain circumstances.
1. Fitting the bit. There might be a problem for instance in fitting the bit to the mouth of the horse. The mouthpiece of a snaffle bit usually has a thick diameter and is regarded as milder as compared to thinner mouthpieces. Nevertheless, there are horses that have small mouths. Once the bit is fitted, they might find it hard to close their mouth. Otherwise, it is a problem as well when the mouthpiece is too thin for the horse’s mouth.
2. Keeping the rings in place. Additionally, the rings on the snaffle bit are typically big in order to avoid them from being pulled by the pressure on the rein into the horse’s mouth. If the snaffle has small rings (called a bradoon), this incidence will most likely happen. For this reason, a bradoon is usually used with a curb bit on a bridle (this is called a Weymouth bridle). The curb bit prevents the bradoon from being pulled into the inside of the mouth. The trainer can also attach a leather strap from one ring to the other in order to prevent the snaffle from moving too much.
3. Nickel and allergies. A lot of snaffle bit manufacturers also use nickel as a material in producing horse bits. Nickel, unfortunately, can cause allergic reactions and may result to sores on the horse’s mouth and lips. To avoid this, a stainless steel or a sweet iron may be used instead. Luckily, a lot of snaffle bits on the market nowadays offer nickel-free and anti-allergy horse bits.
4. The full-cheek snaffle and its features. A full-cheek snaffle can also be a source of problems in turning the horse. This snaffle includes pieces that protrude above and below the ring. These pieces press the sides of the mouth to buoy up the horse to turn. Unfortunately, there are instances when these pieces get caught on the head of the horse or on other objects around his head. In order to avoid this scenario, trainers can have keepers that fasten to the bridle and the top piece on the bit.
Lastly, if the snaffle bit is not fitted properly, the horse may develop bad habits. That is why trainers and riders really have to make sure that the bit perfectly fits the horse.
Although snaffle bits are considered simple and mild, it does not mean that trainers should be complacent. Proper care and necessary precautions must always be applied in order to prevent damages and casualties.