All fall and winter I have been trail riding at a friends boarding stable (riding a couple of her horses) . About 20 horses are boarded here and they all are ridden western. With the exception of about 3 horses who go bitless all horses are ridden in simple snaffle bits with leather curb straps. My question is how loose should a curb strap be?? All the curb straps on these horses are loose enough to fit your fist between the strap and the chin. The straps are all rolled leather and even tightened as much as possible would leave a good 2-3 inches between the horse and the curb strap. I mentioned this to the barn owner and she told me if you are relying on the bit to stop a horse you are just fooling yourself. If curb straps are supposed to be this loose what is their purpose? I have a little morgan gelding that I will be riding in the spring and he rides in a grazing bit and I have a flat double chain type curb strap. I would like to know how to properly adjust the curb strap so I will not be laughed at, I always assumed it was adjusted correctly if you could fit one or 2 fingers flat between it and the horses chin.
On a snaffle the curb strap simply keeps the rings from being pulled through the mouth.
On a curb style bit the general rule of thumb is the curb strap will be fully engagaed when the bit is pulled back to the 45 degree mark from the resting position.
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thank you for explaining that, any horse I have ever owned always rode in some kind of a shanked bit, so I never learned much about snaffles.
For the snaffles, I would be leary if they are that loose even, from what you are describing...I know they aren't used to help stop the horse, but if they are loose enough to flip up and into the horse's mouth and get stuck there, that could be problematic. They should be adjusted so that there is no chance of them slipping over the lower lip.
On the curbs, the 2-3 finger rule is generally pretty good.
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