Why Snaffles for English?

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Why Snaffles for English?

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    11-10-2009, 06:17 AM
Wink Why Snaffles for English?

I'm writing an essay...that's turning into a book lol...on bits and bitting. I've run into a question I have no answer for...as many years as I've been riding (english and western). It's a silly question that if you were to ask me to my face I'd probably say "does it matter?" and laugh. Lol

Actually, maybe I know the answer, but can't put it into words or don't remember.

Why do the majority of english riders use snaffles? I know what a snaffle is for and how it works and all that, I just can't explain why when we ride english it is customary to use a snaffle. I, myself, use a low port Kimberwicke (with which I do not direct rein), so that's probably why I can't think of what I need...cuz I don't use a snaffle! LOL

I can understand why you would need la lot of manual lateral control in dressage and jumping, but why a snaffle even just on the flat? Is it just because there's no real reason to go to anything more advanced? Tradition or historical reason? "Just cuz"?

(the reason I'm a bit muddled...besides the fact that it's 5am...is that when I used to show, people would have their horses in western classes in curbs but then switch to a snaffle for english. Why would you make a change like that...why not just use an english curb?)

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    11-10-2009, 12:39 PM
Well I used to use an eggbut snaffle on my horse purely coz I thought it was a kind bit and he went well in it. I then moved to a french link hanging cheek snaffle as he got stronger which is slightly stronger then a normal snaffle. I didnt want to ride him in a gag. I dunno why most are snaffles. I think it could be coz theyre more famous bunch of bits? I dunno!
    11-10-2009, 02:53 PM
Green Broke
For the hunters the judge is looking for a horse that's pleasant to ride out on the hunt field. Snaffles are preferred because shows that your horse has a nice soft mouth and doesn't need anything more severe. Plus, you're supposed to ride with contact and that's not how a curb works.
    11-10-2009, 09:07 PM
For the most part english riders ride with contact. The bit needs to be gentle enough to allow for contact and encourage the horse to take a feel of that contact on the bit. Stronger (not harsh but more pressure) signals with a mild mouthpiece.

Western riders use stronger bits but ride on a loose rein with very subtle rein aids... which makes the action of the "harsher" bit gentle in actuality. Mild signals with a stronger mouthpiece.

Over simplification, but you get the jist of it.
    11-10-2009, 09:21 PM
Snaffles are made for direct contact and direct reining. Direct reining becomes very harsh and confusing in a curb.
    11-11-2009, 01:59 AM
Nevermind. :^) I didn't ask the question right. I already know most of it works and how to ride one. I was looking for more of a philosophy behind the snaffle...but I'm not even sure there is one. Lol I was kinda going along the lines of: traditional western curbs as we know them were developed by American cowboys because the curb only requires the use of one hand to operate...so you could rope, shoot, open gates, sort, mend fences, eat (lol) and work off both sides of your horse while you sat in the saddle...we decided that the english way of horsing around wasn't workin'. Lol....that kinda stuff. When I ride/show english I use a Kimberwicke, which is a curb but I don't see many others in them, so it made me wonder why english folks stop at the traditional snaffle, outside of that you can still manually control his lateral movement...but I'm not sure why a finished horse would still need you to do that, especially on the hunt field, but the constant contact part does make sense.

(oh, and not to be mean, but a curb isn't more necessarily more severe than a snaffle and doesn't indicate a hard or soft mouth, it's just used differently. A snaffle has the potential to hurt a horse just as much as a curb does, especially in the wrong hands or with a rider that doesn't know how to use it correctly...neckreining in a snaffle has a similar effect to direct reining in a curb...neither was designed for those opposing activities. It's the curb pressure that allows for one-handed movement, which is very handy when your hubby decides to text-talk with you while you're riding instead of call you...when I ride western, my hand barely moves at all. I also know plenty of horses in d-rings and full cheeks who are like trying to communicate with someone who refuses to change the batteries in their hearing aids...like my uncle Dennis. }:}~ )
    11-11-2009, 02:30 AM
...neckreining in a snaffle has a similar effect to direct reining in a curb...neither was designed for those opposing activities.

Sorry, not mad at you, but I HATE this misconception. There is NOTHING wrong with neckreining in a snaffle. The very name - NECKreining - should make it obvious that it can be done in ANY biy - The key to it is the horse turning off the pressure of the rein on the NECK. I do cattle work, mounted games, polocrosse etc one handed, neckreining in a snaffle on all my horses. It works fine.

The other side - Direct reining in a curb is confusing and often harsh on the mouth. Especially with mullen or ported mouthpieces - Any time ONE rein is picked up, the whole bit rotates in the mouth - How is a horse supposed to know which way to give when the whole bit, as well as poll pressure and chin groove pressure is being brought to bear?
    11-11-2009, 07:42 AM
Originally Posted by Liberty Valence    
traditional western curbs as we know them were developed by American cowboys because the curb only requires the use of one hand to operate...so you could rope, shoot, open gates, sort, mend fences, eat (lol) and work off both sides of your horse while you sat in the saddle...

Well there wouldn't be much call for that kind of riding on this side of the pond
    11-11-2009, 03:45 PM
In a snaffle, when you tighten one rein, the rein "pulls" the bit through the horse into the turn by putting pull pressure on the outside of the opposite cheek. It's like if you were standing next to your horse and pulled him into you. The bit pulls through the mouth and the pressure is actually on the lips on the opposite side.

In a curb, the tight rein causes bit to push into the horse's face on the same side as the tightened rein. So it's like if you were standing next to him and pushed him away from you into the turn.

So if I tighten the left rein in a snaffle, I am pulling the horse's head to the left. But if I have a curb and tighten the left rein, the bit pushes the horse's head to the right. In a snaffle, if you neckrein a turn to the right, you're tightening the rein on the left, just like you'd be doing in a curb...BUT the way the snaffle works, you're actually pulling the horse's head to the right. The bit still operates the same regardless of how many hands are used with it, which is why neckreining in a snaffle has the same initial effect as direct reining in a curb. In a snaffle, the tight rein is the turn direction - pull the left rein and expect the horse to go left, right rein = right turn. The curb also works the same no matter how many hands I use it with...if I pull the right rein with the right hand...I should actually expect my horse to go...left (just like it would if I had the reins in one hand). When you ask for a turn in a snaffle with a direct rein, the outside rein is loose and the inside rein is tight. But in a curb, the outside rein is tight and the inside rein is loose. In a snaffle, whichever rein is tight is the direction the horse's head goes...to move away from pressure like he's supposed to. So in mid right-turn neckrein, when your hand is to the right, your left rein is tight and pulling his head to the left. This is why many people will cross the reins under the horse's chin to teach him to neckrein. (not approving or disapproving of the method, here...another thread for another time. Lol)

That doesn't mean he can't learn it and do it well, though...a horse will learn whatever cues you teach it...nice or not-so-nice. When you try to neckrein in a snaffle, what you're actually doing is literally using the rein to move the whole head and neck of the horse to one side. Even in a curb, a horse that neckreins well actually doesn't move off the bit anymore - all I have to do is just turn my wrist (like a doorknob) on my horse and she goes that way. She's gotten really good at knowing interpreting my signals and knows what I would be doing if I had to ask a little ...um...louder. Lol. The horse's "ideal" is to avoid the pressure altogether. I also have the joy to ride with a few idiots regularly. They ride in Tom Thumbs and direct rein. Their horses actually direct rein in a TT just like english horses...ain't got no mouths on 'em, but they still do it. :{

I would suffice to say that just because something CAN be done, doesn't necessarily mean it should be. I can pound a nail into a block of wood with a wrench or a screwdriver but that's not what they're designed for. Lol

(I do realize this issue can turn into a hotly debated one and there are camps on both sides each with valid statements...not exactly something I want to argue about, though...just stating why I made the original statement...no disrespect to anyone)
    11-11-2009, 03:48 PM
Originally Posted by Lobelia Overhill    
well there wouldn't be much call for that kind of riding on this side of the pond
HA HA =D Ever tried it? Lol We do things here now where we run an obstacle course AND shoot at the same time. One or the other just wasn't enough. (I mean Cowboy Mounted Shooting. A friend of mine is one of the top 10 world champions...although that word "world" baffles me because as far as I know, we're the only ones that do it! LOL )

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