Regular snaffle vs. french link snaffle
Aires doesn't have a problem with the regular snaffle we use (other than he likes to chew on it because it's copper, but we're going to remedy that soon), but I was just wondering what the differences between a regular single joint snaffle and a french link snaffle are. Would a french link snaffle be better for Aires to keep him with a soft mouth? I have relatively soft hands, so I don't think that will be a problem, but I know that sometimes if the bit is too harsh, the horse will develop a harder mouth regardless.
I know some will say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," but I am really just curious. My old gelding had an insanely hard mouth (from being ridden in a twisted wire snaffle and having his face reefed on constantly), but he responded really well to a french link snaffle. The trainer at our barn has a nice full cheek french link snaffle on her English bridle, and my friend has a french link snaffle for when she works her mare in the arena (can't use a bit on the trail, as Cassie throws her head around and pitches a fit, so she rides in a side pull on the trails).
Different action. The FL conforms better to the tongue, giving more relief, which should theoretically translate to a softer mouth. Paradoxically, it also has more tongue pressure, as the innermost joint stays in contact with the tongue, while a regular snaffle will bend when it is pulled back firmly, resting more on the cheek/bars. The FL collapses more onto the cheeks than a regular snaffle, however, but this severe pinching effect is only seen if you are really hauling back with steady pressure on the reins.
In the end it really comes down to the horse's preference.
Interesting...so basically, once he's used to what the bit means and responds to it (he is in training and hasn't been ridden yet), try him in the FL and see how he responds? That makes sense.
FL is win. A lot more horses find them comfortable than the single jointed snaffle. I have one with a lozenge on Monty and he loves it. I had one with a lozenge on my old horse and it was THE bit that he responded best to (he had a horrible mouth).
I'm thinking about hitting up my tack store when the time comes to mouth Satin and getting a full cheek FL. It's that or a mouthing bit, or sticking with what I have and love - I have two of them. Monty has a huge tongue and a small mouth so a thin FL suits him really well, because he doesn't have a lot of room in his mouth for the bit. Some horses have more room and a higher palate and thus the single joint might suit them better. Monty also likes mullen mouthpieces but the only one I have is on a kimblewick cheekpiece and I don't like that much lack of refinement.
My gelding has plenty if room in his mouth, and goes well on his single joint. He's quiet mouthed and pretty responsive to it.
Although, he works best in a FL. In the single joint, it takes a lot of warmup time before he really settles in the bridle and moves off of a light contact in the perfect frame. In the FL, it's pretty much immediate, I set him in the bridle, and he carries a nice headset much quicker and lighter. So, he prefers the tongue pressure, more than the pallate and lip pressure.
I'd try both and see what he seems most comfortable with.
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I am using two different trainers for my two horses (just the way it happened), and they have different preferences for bits that they start in. My arab was started in a single link snaffle and my percheron cross was started in a full cheek french link. The trainer that uses the french link really stresses wanting her horses soft.
Aires was ridden for the first time today! He did absolutely AMAZING! Was responding to leg pressure after just a couple of times, even! He was a bit "on the bit," if that makes sense, and got a little pissy when the trainer was working on "Whoa" at first. After she got off him, we were talking and she said she thinks he'd be okay in the single joint, but would probably excel in the french link. :)
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