Curb or Snaffle?
 
 

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Curb or Snaffle?

This is a discussion on Curb or Snaffle? within the Western Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
  • Snaffle hosre bit vs a curb bit for trail riding
  • Can i switch my horse from a curb bit to a snaffle

 
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    07-14-2011, 04:33 AM
  #1
Foal
Curb or Snaffle?

I have just taken up western riding with my quarter horse mare. I notice that the most common bit used is a curb bit with long shanks, or sometimes just a snaffle. My mare is quite strong in the mouth, however I thought that the curb may have been a bit too severe. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
     
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    07-14-2011, 04:48 AM
  #2
Yearling
I think I horse and rider can do anything in a snaffle, if your horse is too head strong for this, you should take some steps back, and develope a softer connection first.
Switching to a harsher bit is just starting a war, and in some cases they start to get hard headed in that and then people get an even harsher bit etc.
This is what I am currently working on with my mare, its not really fun, but its necessary :/
I am not an expert, if your horse is dangerous in a snaffle, bolting etc. definitely do what you think is best or ask a trainer to come out and evaluat/work with your horse and you.
Good luck :)
     
    07-14-2011, 06:49 AM
  #3
Foal
Personally I use a curb, simply because my horse is less responsive by far to the snaffle. But when choosing between the two you should ask yourself some questions.

1) If I use a snaffle will I have to jerk on my horses mouth to get them to behave?
- If this is the case you probably need a stronger bit such as the curb. It is better to use a stronger bit, than be constantly yanking on your horse.

2) Do I understand the power of the curb?
- The power behind the curb bit is not intented to be demonstrated through brute force, but rather pressure and release. Heavy hands on a curb bit can ruin a horses teeth, and cause huge issues for the rider.

3) Heavy Shanks Neccessary?
- The shanks on curve will be heavier than a snaffle, but that doesn't mean you can't find moderate sized ones. In fact I recccomend smaller shanks on a curb.

Hope this helps, honestly I would work a week in one bit and then a week in another, and decide which is best. Just remeber the strenghth of a curb bit it can do a lot more damage if abused even accidentally.
     
    07-14-2011, 07:16 AM
  #4
Foal
Thank you very much. This helps a lot. I will take everything into consideration. Thanks.
     
    07-14-2011, 08:17 AM
  #5
Doe
Weanling
Firstly I believe a bit should only be used for finesse (ie when a horse is developed and ready). It should never be used for control. If your horse is strong in the head or mouth then she is telling you something. It would be wise to take a few steps back and listen.

Secondly a curb bit should definitely never be used for control. It creates immense pressure via the mathematics of leverage. If you horse is not ready, if they are not soft in just a head collar, then they will just create other problems elsewhere. At best that will be soreness and stiffness, and at worst behavioural problems, avoidance and permanent damage.

Assuming one has the skills, it is always wise to go back and ride in a halter. If you cannot with your horse, then you are merely hiding issues which if properly resolved will ultimately create a more willing, softer and safer horse and rider partnership.
     
    07-14-2011, 08:37 AM
  #6
Foal
In response to the above post about riding in a halter, I respectfully disagree as this can be dangerous. If you can't control your horse with a slight bit only using a halter has no power to it and you will just be along for the ride with a speedy horse. While however, I disagree with that part of Doe's post, I would not discount all points made within the post.
     
    07-14-2011, 06:50 PM
  #7
Doe
Weanling
Quote:
Originally Posted by horsecrzy94    
In response to the above post about riding in a halter, I respectfully disagree as this can be dangerous. If you can't control your horse with a slight bit only using a halter has no power to it and you will just be along for the ride with a speedy horse. While however, I disagree with that part of Doe's post, I would not discount all points made within the post.
I agree it could be dangerous, that is why I said if you have the skills etc. However I do believe that every horse can and should be able to be ridden in a halter. It is a great indicator/gauge of the horses level of training and your relationship. If you cannot ride your horse in a halter then there is something missing. It is always better to address any gaps as they always become bigger later on.

I only ever ride out on a trail etc in a halter with any horse I am on. I often get people remark that I've got balls to do that, or I must be crazy. However I take the opposite view. They take security from a bit. I do not. I have seen too many horses ride through a bit in panic. Also if a horse has truly panicked and bolted etc, then I want to bring its mind back to me as soon as possible. If I cause it pain via pulling on a bit or whatever then I do not believe that will help.

I am not saying it is the right way or the wrong way, it's just a different perspective. Too many people escalate bits and other aids for control. That in my opinion just makes for bigger problems (and falls) later on. Why can you not control a horse with just a halter? That is the question to ask.
     
    07-14-2011, 08:55 PM
  #8
Showing
I agree with Doe up to a point. The answer with this horse is not to get a stronger bit (and curbs can be very strong, especially in uneducated hands). It sounds to me like this mare needs to go a step or 3 back in her training. Work on her suppleness to the snaffle and work on your timing with the release. Your timing is what determines whether she will learn to be soft or not. If you just change bits and hope for the best, it will be a very short time before you are having the same issues all over again in the new bit.
     
    07-14-2011, 09:10 PM
  #9
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by smrobs    
It sounds to me like this mare needs to go a step or 3 back in her training. Work on her suppleness to the snaffle and work on your timing with the release. Your timing is what determines whether she will learn to be soft or not. If you just change bits and hope for the best, it will be a very short time before you are having the same issues all over again in the new bit.
This^.

Also, I think that curb bits are not as good a tool for working a horse in lateral movement training. The curb bit is more to be used after the horse has already learned how to turn while staying balanced over himself.
A snaffle is better if you need to use totally lateral pressure, as you might need to do for such things as a one rein stop or hind quarter disengage, or just working on getting him to follow the rein with his nose and and his body.
Riding with a curb should mean neck reining, and it's quite a bit different.
     
    07-14-2011, 09:14 PM
  #10
Trained
Totally agree with not going to a stronger bit for the sake of more control. Control is trained. I would agree with Doe, but would add that the halter should be a rope one properly fitted, and that perhaps some basic ground work with it would help set the foundation with the horse. It should also be worked on until mastered several times over in a controlled area. I don't think anyone is suggesting that you start using a halter and go out in the open with it.

Nextly, I have a question/statement. As a person who has recently transitioned to Western (and still stuggles at times with having to only use one hand...)it was my understanding that ths snaffle is more of a training bit, used when you may still use 2 hands. A curb with shanks should NOT be used with 2 hands. Different physics totally. Is this correct?
     

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