Snaffle bits are the foundation to any bit collection and the foundation to preparing a horse to communicate with us through the bit. So it is very important to choose the right snaffle for the job.
The first question is, "Should I choose a D ring (fixed ring) or and O Ring (loose ring) Snaffle"? Let's start by examining how each works. D Ring Snaffles operate n the premise of indirect or off side pressure. In other words, as you pull on the right rein, the horse feels pressure against the left side of his face. the pressure is spread over a large space. The left rein lays on the left side of the neck and we now have the beginnings of neck reining.
The O Ring Snaffle works off of a more specific or direct pressure. This time when we pull on the right rein the horse feels the pressure on the right buckle flap (lip tissue). The pressure is now targeted a smaller area
Once we have determined which style snaffle we would like to use, the next choice to make is the weight or diameter of the ring. Both types of snaffles come in a variety of ring sizes and weights. The rule of thumb to remember is the lighter the ring say a 1/4" ring, the less severe. And a 3/8" ring which is heavier will be more severs. If you are u sure, we recommend choosing something that is in the mid range of six and weight. A 5/16" diameter ring is not too heavy, but has enough weight to increase the signal.
We are down to our last decision. We have decided D Ring vs O Ring, and we have decided the size and weight of the Ring. Next choice will be choosing the appropriate mouthpiece. There are many choices in mouthpieces today. for today's article, let's break it down into 3 groups.
•Simple smooth mouthpieces,
•twisted mouthpieces and
•those with additional rings, bars and copper centers.
Let's start with the Smooth Snaffle Mouthpieces. Unlike or Rings, the larger the diameter of our mouthpiece the less severe. The smaller the diameter the more severe. Again if you are unsure go with a larger diameter, say a 3/8" smooth, non tapered mouthpiece. Next on our list is the twisted mouthpiece. Twisted mouthpieces are more specific in their points of pressure. So please use these types of mouthpieces with caution and intermittently. Lastly, we can add rings, dog bone and copper rings o the center to name a few. These can redistribute the pressure points and change the effect of the mouthpiece. Adding the copper rings and or copper inlays on the bars of the mouthpiece, increases salivation. Increase salivation equals increased relaxation of the tongue and mandible. This in turn supports relaxation at the pole.
Lastly, when purchasing a bit always look for rough unfinished areas that may rub your horses face and or mouth. Also, check the moving parts making sure the do not pinch side or outside the mouth.
Always remember the most important part of a bit are the hats pulling on the reins. Take care to preserve your horse's mouth. Bits are merely tools to improve communication between horse and rider. Learning hw bits work, choosing the least severe bit possible and crating slow, quiet hands are a few things we can do to improve our horsemanship skills and communicate more effectively with our partner, the horse.