Bits - Direct Pressure vs Leverage

January 04, 2019

Bits work with either direct pressure or leverage. Bits that act with direct pressure on the tongue and lips are in the general category of snaffle bits.

Snaffle bits most commonly have a single jointed mouthpiece and act with a nutcracker effect on the bars, tongue and roof of the mouth. However, any bit that operates with direct pressure is a "snaffle" bit, regardless of mouthpiece. Today’s snaffle bits often have several joints or links, as with a chain mouthpiece.

Bits that have shanks are in the category of curb bits.  Shanks create leverage that applies pressure to the poll, chin and mouth of the horse.

Traditionally, curb bit mouthpieces were solid without joints, ranging from a straight bar with a slight arch, called a "mullen" mouthpiece, through a "ported" bit that is slightly arched in the middle to provide tongue relief, to the full spade bit which combines both a straight bar and a very high "spoon" or "spade" extension that contacts the roof of the mouth.

Today’s curb bits can have single or multiple joints in the mouthpiece combined with various lengths of shanks.  The length of the shank determines the degree of leverage put on the horse's head and mouth. Again, a bit with shanks and leverage is always a "curb" type bit, even when it has a jointed mouthpiece more commonly seen on a snaffle.  Shanked bits require the use of a curb strap for proper action and safe use.

Deciding which bit to use can be a daunting challenge.  Remember what works for one horse and rider might not work for you and your horse.  Each individual horse and rider must be carefully considered.  How sensitive is your horse? Is he hard mouthed or soft?  How sensitive are you?  Do you ride with a light touch on the reins or are you heavy handed?  These are important factors for deciding which bit you should choose.




Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Connolly

Her Majesty the Queen

September 15, 2022

Her Majesty the Queen, who died on September 8, 2022, at the age of 96, was a passionate horse lover. Some of the most iconic images of her reign show her horseback. Queen Elizabeth’s very first horse was a Shetland pony named Peggy, given to her at the young age of 4 as a birthday present from her grandfather. It's difficult to image being royalty, let alone living that life, but as horse lovers there is a connection regardless of status. Royalty portrays the majesty, beauty, glamour, and aw...

Continue Reading

3 Key Factors to Success

August 10, 2022

Too many barrel racers succeed for you not to learn exactly how they did it - and how to follow in their steps. If you're passionate about the sport many will help you harness these secrets. Access top experts for their knowledge; get motivation from those closely invested in your success; engage people with passion to help others hone their skills, willing to mentor more intensive than anything ever offered before. These 3 key factors fast-forward success for anyone in any sport.

Continue Reading

Iconic Cowboy Symbol – The American Cowboy Hat

July 28, 2022

Cowboy symbols represent the cowboy spirit of independence and self-reliance. A cowboy lives what he believes and does not worry about conforming to anyone’s mold. Cowboys have substance, strength, and courage. Hats, boots, spurs, saddles, and horses are symbols of the culture and evidence hard work, horsemanship, and individualism. The cowboy spirit preserves the principles our country was founded upon. Their stories capture situations, motivations, and outcomes. Their stories have a profoun...

Continue Reading