Snaffles or Curbs? Which bit? Why? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 04:35 PM
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MY IHSA coach called that the bigger hammer theory BlueSpark. He was adamant that a horse should be able to do everything in a snaffle before moving up to a curb. Unfortunately there are plenty of people out there who like to use bits as a bandaid. Which leaves many people believing that curbs are the harshest bits out there, only used by people who can't be bothered to properly train their horse.

It's been said many times on this forum, but I'll say it again: it's the hands holding the bit that make it soft or harsh.
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post #12 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 05:57 PM
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it's the hands holding the bit that make it soft or harsh.
While I agree I think this statement is a little...simplistic. Its not just soft hands that make a bit kind, and Harsh hands can be caused lack of balance, or knowledge or even a young riders lack of coordination, all magnified by a more severe bit. What would be mildly anoying in a "gentle" non leverage bit becomes very harsh in a more severe one.
a curb would be harsh as a first bit because it is not ment for direct reining and will be very confusing. A single jointed snaffle is harsh on a horse with a low pallet, where it is jabbing the roof of their mouth.
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post #13 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 06:23 PM
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Well, I think both arguements are stupid. "A horse needs training to be ridden"? Yeah, um, some people train in bosals, sidepulls, hackamores, snaffles, mullens, curbs, and saw bits. Training isn't exclusive to snaffles, so that arguement is void.
And the other "horses take advantage of you and no training can fix that so you do what you need to do to fix a willful horse" makes no sense either. First off, what is training for, if not to "train"...? And horses take advantage in any bit. They can grab the snaffle and run away, and they can grab a curb and run away. They can throw their head up to avoid the bit and then can tuck their chin and evade the bit. So this argument is also void.
Now, I think your issue is that you seem to think the bit makes the horse. So without a bit you can't ride your horse? Are you one of those 'hands-y" peole constantly fiddling with the bit? What about seat? Leg? Balance? Voice? Posture? Whip? Spur?
Moving on, what discipline are you? Western people believe in reaching contact through the neck, not the mouth, which means curbs are ok since the only time they take contact is when the horse needs correction. You see, a curb bit is a punishment bit. When the horse takes contact, pressue is applied to both the underside of the jaw, bars, and tongue. Depending on the bit, pressure is also applied to the poll. All of this discourages contact, which is why it is such a good bit for western disciplines. Those horses rely on neckreining and seat cues, not a connection with mouth to hand.
Now, if you're a dressage rider, it's a different story. Dressage riding is all about contact. (And yes, the upper levels use shanked bits but most are mullen, and just because they use curbs doesn't mean they all use them correctly, and a true dressage horse goes just the same in a plain snaffle). The horse should have self-carriage but should also have a light contact with the rider. Curbs discourage this contact for all the reasons listed above. (Increased contact equals increased pressure, equals increased discomfort). What I also dislike about curbs is that any movement is translated to both sides of the mouth, whereas with a snaffle you can hold the outside and open the inside and the horse will be able to follow it because the bit has so much movement.
Again, if you can't get the same results in a halter, or sidepull, or snaffle, or mullen, as you can with a curb, you aren't really doing it right. A trained horse will be effected very little by a change in bits. It should know its job and be able to perform it whether it's in a snaffle or a pelham or a kimberwick. Now, it might go better in a certain bit, but that's another story.
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post #14 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 06:47 PM
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different bits for different situations, horses and people.
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post #15 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by TimWhit91 View Post
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.

Bull...stuff. If a horse works well in a snaffle and they aren't being shown in an event where a curb is required, there is NO reason to use anything other than a snaffle.

You can get just as much "refinement" with a string around the neck (or at liberty, for that matter) if you TEACH your horse how to ride that way.

Last edited by FaydesMom; 06-21-2012 at 06:59 PM. Reason: forgot a letter
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post #16 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 07:11 PM
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To show a horse western when it's over 5 years, you have to bridle him. If the horse isn't trained to a bridle, and you don't know how to use one, I can agree with the statement, don't use a curb. A curb on a trained horse is much milder in the cues given than a snaffle. Most times, it is a vibration in the reins that alerts the horse that a cue is forth coming, whereas in a snaffle it's direct. Anyone who thinks a curb is cruel is not an advanced rider and does not understand how a curb works. Nothing wrong with that, keeps them from using gear they are not skilled enough to use on a horse.

Last edited by waresbear; 06-21-2012 at 07:15 PM.
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post #17 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 07:26 PM
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to achieve the same effect, more leverage requires less pressure but more movement. and vice versa.

so the only real difference is the snaffle can apply pressure much faster than a leverage bit, but a leverage bit can ultimately apply more pressure. in a 1:1 ratio. so it all depends on how you use it and the effect you want to acheive.

one isn't specifically "harsher" than the other
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post #18 of 18 Old 06-21-2012, 08:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Ink View Post
In short, curb bit are really supposed to be reserved for finished horses.
Boy was my old tack store wrong... I told them I was a new to breaking horses and wanted to know what bit they suggested I should buy for my 3 year old to start him on. They said all horses start out in a curb bit and work their way to to snaffles. Thankfully over the past year to year and a half I've learned otherwise. Thank you god for horse forums on the internet!
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