The most commonly seen type of bit, a snaffle bit lacks a shank, thus limiting its leverage compared to alternate designs. The standard snaffle features round, ring-shaped cheek pieces and a simple, two-piece jointed mouthpiece. Your bit will not be effective if it is not used properly, so you need to place the snaffle bit in the horse's mouth correctly.
Identifying the Front of Your Bit
If you're confused about how the snaffle bit should be placed in your horse's mouth, you need to determine which way the bit goes. Before you put the bit on your bridle, pick up the snaffle bit and hold it in your hands. Notice that the mouthpieces are curved on either side of the joint. Fold the bit in half. If the bit goes together smoothly when bent, you have it facing the right direction. If the bit will not go together, you have it backwards. The bit needs to fold smoothly into itself when it is used in the horse's mouth, otherwise it can be uncomfortable for your horse.
Attaching the Bit to the Bridle
It is essential that your bit be put on your bridle correctly. You can make sure it is right by folding your bit so that it fits together smoothly. Arrange your bridle so that it is facing the way it would when it is on the horse's head. Make sure that the front of the bit is facing the top/front of the bridle and then attach the snaffle bit to the bridle. Your bridle's headstall has cheek pieces that will buckle or snap around the loops on the outside of your snaffle bit.
Adjust the Bit
The bit should sit in the gap in your horse's mouth behind the incisors. It should not dangle too loosely in the mouth or be held in the mouth so tightly that the horse is uncomfortable. The bit works though the application and release of pressure. Adjust the headstall so that the bit creates two wrinkles in the corner of the horse's mouth without pinching.
Snaffles Versus Other Bits
Snaffle bits can be used in both English and Western riding. Almost all horses can be ridden using a snaffle, though some horses do better in other types of bits. The snaffle differs from a shanked bit or a curb bit.
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Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.