Which Curb Straps or Chin Straps Are Legal?

Have you ever wondered if the curb (chin) strap you’re using is legal in the show you’re planning to go to? There are many types, styles and sizes of curbs available. Each can be useful for a particular training purpose, event and/or horse show association. But it gets confusing quickly, especially now that multiple associations have begun holding events together.

In our video today, National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) and American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA) judge Bozo Rogers helps to guide us through the maze of curb/chin straps. We’ll show you chin straps that are legal on horses being shown in curb (leverage) bits in AQHA, NRCHA and NCHA classes. We’ll also show you chin straps allowed on horses being shown in snaffles in AQHA and NRCHA classes. Further information can be found in your association’s rulebook. If you have any questions about the legality of your curb, be sure to inquire with the judge or show official prior to entering your class.

In AQHA classes where a western saddle is used, a curb for any class must be a minimum of ½ inch wide. “When a curb bit is used, a curb strap or curb chain is required, but must meet the approval of the judge, be at least 1/2 inch in width and lie flat against the jaw of the horse. Curb chains cannot be tied to the bit with string or cord.”1 Curbs made of wire are not permitted. Leather curb straps that do not lie flat (braided leather or rawhide) are prohibited on curb bits.

In NRCHA bridle classes chin straps must also be a minimum of ½ inch in width and must be made of leather. “No wire, chain or other metal or rawhide device may be used in conjunction with the bit or a part of the leather chin strap. Leather chin strap must be flat, flexible and at least 1/2 inch wide. No metal rivets are allowed to come in contact with the chin, or chin groove of the horse. Metal keepers are not acceptable on the chin strap.”2

Horses ridden in AQHA western performance classes with a snaffle bit may be ridden with a leather curb (optional) attached below the reins. Braided leather curbs are acceptable on snaffles. Horses ridden in NRCHA classes with a snaffle bit may use curb straps made of leather or any other woven material of any width. “No iron, chain or other material may be used. Chin strap is allowed to include metal buckles and/or keepers on snaffle bits only.”3

In NCHA competitions horses may be ridden in leather or chain curb straps. The chain is not required to lie flat so dog chain curbs are acceptable. Curb straps made of chain may be attached with leather straps or with cord or string attachments.

Dennis Moreland Tack has handmade curb straps available for every western discipline. The selection includes 5/8 inch and ½ inch leather curbs, bled (braided) curbs, curbs with flat chains and dog chains and beautiful curbs accented with hand braided rawhide. Call 817-312-5305 for more information.

We’re a full line manufacturer of handmade tack and we’re here to help you!


1.       AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations, 2017, 16th edition. Rule SHW305.8, p 108.

2.       2017 Rule Book, Official Handbook of the NRCHA. Effective 11/16/2016, Rule 5.3, pgs. 27-28.

3.       2017 Rule Book, Official Handbook of the NRCHA. Effective 11/16/2016, Rule 5.6, pgs. 28-29.