Snaffle versus Double Bridle
Posted by Irina Yastrebova on Monday, September 10, 2007 10:59 PM
I always had a question in me: why are some people very critical of a curb bit? And why people scold when riders use double bridle on their horses
before a horse starts doing advanced collected work. I will not talk about situations where riders cannot sit in balance, or pull on the reins a lot. In this case even snaffle
is a dangerous tool in their hands. Curb bit has absolutely different action compare to a snaffle. It does not slide backwards in the horses mouth
and does not squeeze or pinch horses lips. It does apply pressure to the poll and lower jaw. Compare to the snaffle it is much easier to explain
to the horse about lowering the head or giving in the poll area with the curb bit. If you have a horse that has a very good conformation,
soft mouth and responses to a snaffle very easily, by no means, train him in the snaffle to the very advanced level. However, not all horses are like that
and I think it is kinder to the horse if you have better means of explaining to him something that he is finding not easy. When I started riding my horse in the double
bridle I have noticed that we had much less argument about staying on the bit, stretching into the bridle. He is responding differently not just with
his mouth but with his whole body. He likes to lean into the bit sometimes, especially when he is in a hurry and anticipating things. Snaffle is not much help
in such situations, he just plunges himself on it and braces his poll. Half-halting, playing with the fingers does not impress him. Snaffle cannot
explain to him to give, because in such situations snaffle creates front to back action even if I do not pull. I can work him to give, however,
with double bridle he corrects himself. I don't do anything, just close my fingers. He catches himself on the curb and that is, end of story. We can continue
our work. He has built a beautiful topline working on the double bridle. Double bridle sends him up, I add a little leg and he swells under me and arches into
the bit. I do give him a lot of brakes and let him stretch down. If I do not the quality of the movement deteriorates when he is tired, double bridle
cannot and should not fix that. I must be on guard and feel when it is time to let him stretch. Couple centuries ago when horses did not have that
perfect conformation riders worked them in double bridles as soon as a serious work can begin.
No one was thinking of collecting a horse on the snaffle.
I want to point out that because snaffle and curb bit create a different action their use must be separated in the double bridle. You cannot
use them at the same time, they counter effective. That is why I think many top riders do not cross reins of their double bridles.