Is Your Curb Legal? Know Before You Show!

Each of the many types of curb or chin straps available can be useful for a particular training purpose, event and/or horse show association according to Dennis Moreland of Dennis Moreland Tack. But with so many options it’s easy to get confused about whether the curb you’re using is legal. Especially now that multiple associations have begun holding events together. Since use of an illegal curb often results in disqualification, it’s important to check your curb before you enter the ring.

In our video, 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 http://bit.ly/CurbStraps. 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 with leather or chain curb straps. The chain is not required to lie flat which allows dog chain (not flat) curbs to be used. 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, curbs with dog chains and beautiful curbs accented with hand braided rawhide. Email dmtack@vrfmail.com or call 817-312-5305 if you have questions.

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

  1. AQHA Official Handbook of Rules and Regulations, 2020, 68th Rule SHW305.8, p 109.
  2. 2020 Rule Book, Official Handbook of the NRCHA. Effective 11/16/2019, Rule 5.3.1, pg. 30.
  3. 2020 Rule Book, Official Handbook of the NRCHA. Effective 11/16/2019, Rule 5.5.8, pg. 31.