Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Alberta, Canada
A snaffle is the best thing to start a horse in yes, and I even recommend keeping them in one.
I start them with just halters and get them bending really nice and stopping/backing up with light pressure so that it will transfer to the bit.
Another reason you want to start with a snaffle is because they are meant for direct pressure - shanked bits are not. Shanked bits are designed for neck reining, though many people don't know this and use them anyway, most often when they feel they need a harsher bit. In this case, they should really consider going back to the snaffle and re-training the horse.
A snaffle will help with bending and turning. Shanked bits are meant to encourage collection on a very loose rein. In other words, meant for horses that have already been properly schooled in the snaffle and taught to neck rein and therefor listen well to the bit, not the other way around.
"If a horse fails to do something that is because he was not trained to do it. If a horse fails to do something properly that is because he was not trained properly." www.wildestheartart.com