Sunday, October 11, 2015

Back To The Snaffle

I've never been one of those people who gets all into equipment. I'm sort of old school. I can remember when saddles only had two sizes, "regular" and "fat school pony", and every horse had to make do with that. There weren't six pages of bits in every catalog, because the bits were just bits without different "anatomical" mouth shapes or crazy alloys. Things were more one size fits all, and we made do. Now the equipment has as many variables as a graduate calculus course and is just as confusing. Do I need a specially shaped snaffle made of pure unobtanium alloy? I don't know, and for $300 I'm not going to find out.

Years ago I found that Spider preferred to go in a curb instead of just a snaffle, so he's been ridden in the double bridle since. It's not a "forcing the head down" thing, I ride with the curb rein loose. He's just more willing to seek the contact when the curb bit is in. I never put much thought into the "why", it works so I went with it.

Jack, being an ex-racehorse and a mouthy baby, likes to go in a mullen mouth bit. (I hesitate to call it a snaffle, because doesn't "snaffle" refer to the joint in the mouth piece? I don't know. Discuss.) The lack of a joint gives him less stuff to dick around with in his mouth while I'm trying to teach him to take the contact, which is why many people start horses in bits like this.

Yes, Jack's bridle is dirty. Go call ASPCA.

The other day I had taken Spider's double bridle apart to clean it and hadn't put it back together. Because I was feeling far too lazy to put the bridle back together,  I grabbed Jack's bridle with the mullen mouth bit off the rack to ride Spider in instead.  What's the worst that could happen, right?

Spider went like a million bucks. I mean, he was just *BOOM* in the contact. Like a damn Schoolmaster. I was floored.

So, I rode him in it again. And then again and again.... and every time he went perfectly. It was as though he actually did know how to do this dressage thing and had always been resistant because of the bit. I had always assumed it was lack of training or fitness or simple rider error.

The big test was riding him in front of my trainer in the mullen bit. My trainer was just as impressed.

Why does Spider go better in this bit? I don't know. I'm no bitting expert. You might as well ask, "Why do some people feel more comfortable in sneakers and others prefer flip-flops?" I think some of it just boils down to a personal preference and there's no reason a horse can't feel the same about bits.

I do know that Spider has an overbite (aka "parrot-mouthed"), so maybe the joint in a snaffle does something with that. I know he goes worse in double jointed bits than he does single jointed, and he goes best in no joint at all. Feel free to discuss this in the comments.

I did decide to change up the bit in his double bridle based on his love of the mullen mouth. They make curb bits with a mullen mouth, and I found this one on Amazon for $40! And the eggbutt bradoon was included!! And it was on Prime, so I got free shipping!!!

Pretty sweet.

Here's his old curb compared to the new curb:

Yes, it's dirty. Call ASPCA.

I haven't actually tried the new bit yet because I'm kind of lazy and changing bits is a pain. Plus, he's going so well in the other bit that I might just keep him in that forever. You only need a double for CDIs now, and it's unlikely we'll ever compete in a CDI, so there's no pressure. Right now I'm just enjoying not fighting with my horse about the contact. 

If only there were a bit that would convince him to do his changes when I say to do them, not when he thinks he should do them......


  1. I have a Mullen Weymouth in Pig's double. It's the only curb he'll tolerate. But he goes better in a double jointed snaffle. Weirdly, neither makes him listen any better during changes either! ;)

  2. I have been looking for a mullen mouth curb!!!! So glad you found one, off to Amazon I go! Hampton is the same way ... lately he seems to be preferring my fat, single jointed simple egg butt snaffle to the $130 NS bit I bought him. So I sold the NS. Back to basics!

  3. Mikey loved his mullen mouth "snaffle" too! I looked for a simple mullen Weymouth for a while when I was shopping doubles and settled on one of HS's tilted ergonomically shaped bits instead (now illegal of course). You bet I'll be keeping that Korsteel one you got in mind for when baby horse is ready!

  4. That's great that the Mullen is working so well! My horses' bridles are dirty too, the next time someone nags me about it, I know just what to tell them. :)

  5. I have no idea why a mullen mouth is referred to as a snaffle because I thought snaffles were all about the joint? I think that for some horses the play in the bit bugs their mouth. I've not thought to try a mullen in Carmen who can get a bit head tossy at first. I just assume it's my error (and probably is). :)

  6. My understanding is that a bit that uses leverage is a curb bit. One that doesn't is a snaffle. If there is a joint--it is irrelevant. What counts is if it is a leverage bit or not.

  7. My impression is that snaffle refers to the lack of leverage.. but I'm also sick as a dog, so take that under advisement.

    Anyways. Courage spent a long time in a mullen happy mouth d. Now he goes in a $240 HS eggbutt and NOTHING ELSE WILL DO. Believe me, I've tried. After six months of searching, I finally found an acceptable knockoff, so at least I have two of them, I guess.

    1. Oh, and my bridle is clean about 40% of the time, but I have only one horse, no children, and no property. Can't imagine trying to do it with all you have going on.

  8. hm inneresting! one of my trainers has been suggesting i try riding in a nathe recently rather than the KK ultra i use.... kinda curious to see if it would make a difference!

  9. According to Wikipedia, a snaffle does not need a joint, it just can't be a leverage bit. According to the online dictionary Google uses, snaffle also means "to steal". As in, "Shall we snaffle some of Bernard's sherry?" (actual sentence used in the dictionary).

  10. My to TB's seem to go best in the lozenge mouth snaffle eggbutt. The younger guy so far likes a single jointed. Tried a mullen mouth in one TB and he had blood on his lips when we were done. Haven't experimented much beyond those. (Well, except for the double for upper levels.)

    Could be Spider thrives on the stability of a bit that does not move around too much. The mullen mouth would be a very stable bit. That's why my guys prefer the eggbutts to loose ring bits.

    Sounds to me as if you are in win-win mode bitwise. Nice discovery, for sure.


Thanks for your comments! I love them, even though I'm really bad at replying. (Sorry! I always say I'm going to work on that, but then I get distracted...... Hey is that a squirrel?)

I've turned off the word verification because it's hard to read and annoying. But, I'm also too lazy to approve comments, so now it's a free for all. Please note: If you spam my blog, I will spam you back. Literally. I will hunt you down and pelt you with canned meat until you beg for mercy. So, please, no spam!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...