Snaffles or Curbs? Which bit? Why? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 03:03 PM Thread Starter
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Snaffles or Curbs? Which bit? Why?

I've run across quite a few people that believe that no horse should ever be ridden using a curb bit, ever.

The argument advanced is that the horse needs training to be able to be ridden, and that a curb is covering up the problem period. Quite vehement too.

I prefer a curb bit, always have. My argument is that a horses does know what it is being ridden in, and may decide to take advantage of that, and all the training in the world, won't overcome a willful horse that decides to act up.

So what say you?

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post #2 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 03:08 PM
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I believe totally that it doesn't matter so much what you prefer as what your horse prefers.

I also believe that you should start a horse in the mildest bit possible and only start moving up with training, that's why dressage is done in a snaffle to start with, and you only add the curb action of a double bridle when they are at a high enough level of training.

Curbs should be the bit of refinement, not a set of extra brakes.
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post #3 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Palomine View Post
I've run across quite a few people that believe that no horse should ever be ridden using a curb bit, ever.

The argument advanced is that the horse needs training to be able to be ridden, and that a curb is covering up the problem period. Quite vehement too.

I prefer a curb bit, always have. My argument is that a horses does know what it is being ridden in, and may decide to take advantage of that, and all the training in the world, won't overcome a willful horse that decides to act up.

So what say you?

I say that's a load of bull (no offense) from people who don't understand the intended use and function of a curb bit. A curb bit when used correctly is not making up for lack of training at all. Quite the opposite actually, a curb bit is only introduced after a horse has reached a certain stage in its training. The curb introduces a level of refinement and finesse to the way the rider cues the horse that simply cannot be obtained in a snaffle bit. In short, curb bit are really supposed to be reserved for finished horses.
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post #4 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 03:11 PM
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Depnds on the situation and the experience level of horse and rider. Of course it is always easier on here to tell someone to go back to a snaffle.
Leverage is not always the answer and neither is a snaffle.You really have to understand the root of the problem and what the horse really prefers and works well in as far the mouth is concerned. There are many variables. But I agree there are situations where a leverage bit may be the answer.
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post #5 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 03:20 PM
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As usual, everything "all depends."

I have a horse I "started"--- she'd been ridden, on trail rides, but was developing a bucking problem when I got her -- I used a straight-bar pelham, which has a curb rein. I didn't want to move up from mild to severe; I wanted to have a big "NO" ready if she thought about bucking. In this case, it made sense to start with a bigger affect, and move to softer, more subtle aides.

I ride her in a French snaffle now. It is much more suitable for separating Left and Right aides. In general, a curb seems to be more up-and-down; more suitable for riding off the seat. And this takes training! But as mentioned, a curb is also useful for a quick, no-nonsense NO; which I no longer need.
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post #6 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 03:37 PM
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Like the previous posters, I think it all depends on the level of education shared by horse and rider.
For instance, greenies+curbs=no. Beginners+curbs=no. Horses that know how to neckrein=yes. Riders who are aware of their hands+curbs=yes.

Case in point: just the other day there was a thread started by someone who was talking about their curb and how they loved it so much because it made their greenie "collect up like an english horse". Um, yeah, NO. Collection doesn't come from what's in the horse's mouth, it comes from the education of the horse.
Curbs=extra finesse but there's a whole lot of horse/rider education that should come before a curb even touching the horse's mouth.

I love riding my mare in her curb. She barely needs a cue to respond, she (I don't want to say "collects" because I'm sure she's not) "contains" her energy, and is all around a very relaxing ride in her curb.
However, she'll do all those things in a riding halter - no bit - with just a little bit more effort on my part.
I see her curb bit as an award that says "You put enough training on this mare that she's now like a Ferrari instead of the power steering-less Ford she used to be, congratulations!!"

I really feel like you should be able to do everything in a snaffle before a curb enters the picture.

Where I live, I see tons of horses in curbs because "they need brakes" or any number of more ridiculous answers. I feel a little bit of pity for them because the way I see it, they've stolen their "award" (the curb) from the ringmaster (their horse) before the ringmaster gifted them the award and congratulated them. I think they're missing out on a beautiful thing because they chose to rush. I feel bad for them because they don't know the feeling of accomplishment that you get when you successfully train a horse up from snaffle to the curb.

Just my thoughts. :)
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post #7 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 03:40 PM
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I never say never. Especially when it comes to something I think I know about horses or kids!

I'm with the rest. It depends on the horse, the rider, and the job.
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post #8 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 04:22 PM
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A snaffle is used to start a horse, then you move up once the horse has gotten what he could and learned what can be taught in a snaffle. After that you move up for refinement. My old trainer once told me, you don't keep a kid in kindergarten just because he is good at it and you don't keep a horse in a snaffle for the same reason.
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post #9 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 04:25 PM
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Where I live, I see tons of horses in curbs because "they need brakes" or any number of more ridiculous answers
I agree. Here they are, more often than not, used as a bandaid solution for poor training and poor riding. You see horses started in curbs before they know how to turn and yanked around untill they figure out neck reining.

Lots who have harsh hands and put their horse in a curb because they suddenly have "tough" mouths. Eventually they end up in a long shanked, high ported curb and a snug tie down. Often they "graduate" to become cronic buckers or rearers .

Or you have fearful or disrespectful horses that people dont take the time to retrain, so they stop the bolt with a stronger bit.

What they should be is a beautiful, refined form of comunication between a well trained horse and a knowledgable rider.
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post #10 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 04:30 PM
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I just invested in two bits and headstalls this month. I now have both a curb and a snaffle. My curb is a single medium port with jointed shafts where they connect to the mouthpiece. I love this bit, the shafts move very smoothly.

I also have a snaffle on a D-Ring.

One is a training bit and one is a working bit. When I ride in the fields or on the trails I use the curb. Sam really works well in the ported design. Unless he needs an extra cue I only neck rein in the curb and he is becoming even better at responding to weight and leg shifting.

The snaffle is used during tune up training and when I want to work on deep bending and flexing excercises in the indoor riding ring. We alternate between neck reining and direct reining, but mostly focus on direct reining for our bending excercises.

I don't plan on using the snaffle more than one day a week and again, only when I have a specific task in mind where the direct pressure makes more sense.

I don't use the curb for "brakes." In fact, I think if Sam wants to he can give me more fight in the curb than the snaffle. I don't think he likes the broken bit at all, I find he fiddles with it more than a single port curb. In his curb he holds it and is relaxed. In the snaffle, he is always working the bit. hence I only use it for limited use and specific training. I keep him thinking while in it to prevent the focus on the bit rather than me.

Last edited by AQHSam; 06-21-2012 at 04:39 PM.
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