Have you ever wondered how a curb strap (also called a chin strap) works to help slow down or stop your horse? On a leverage or curb bit (a bit with shanks) the curb works in conjunction with the bit and the rest of the bridle to apply pressure to the horse’s chin. If the curb is adjusted correctly, this pressure should help slow or stop your horse. To understand curb strap adjustment, it’s important to know how a curb strap functions in relation to the bridle.
On a curb bit the shank is the portion of the bit’s cheek piece that extends from the point where the mouthpiece is attached to the cheek piece (the butt) downward and includes the rein ring. The purchase is the part of the bit’s cheek piece that extends from the butt to the top of the bridle ring. Each bit has a right and left shank and a right and left purchase. The curb strap works in conjunction with the rotation of the shanks and purchases.
View the attached photo guideline to help visualize how a curb works:
1a. When the reins are pulled pressure is placed on the mouth by the mouthpiece and the bit revolves around the point of rotation or butt of the mouthpiece. This causes the shanks to move behind the point of rotation.
1b. At the same time the shanks are moving behind the point of rotation, when the reins are pulled, the purchase, which we know includes the bridle rings, moves forward of the butt (point of rotation) of the mouthpiece.
2a. The combination of the movements of the shanks behind the point of rotation and the purchases forward of the point of rotation causes the curb strap to contact the chin and continue to become tighter as the reins are pulled tighter. This puts the horse’s lower jaw in a vise-like situation. In addition to the pressure from the pull on the reins, the amount of pressure from the curb is dependent on how loose or tight it is adjusted. A helpful hint: sliding 2 fingers between the curb and the chin, with slack in the reins, and adjusting the curb to that point is generally a good guideline for proper adjustment.
2b. At the same time and because of the rotation of the purchases forward, the crown piece on the headstall (attached to the bridle rings via the headstall’s cheek pieces) is pulled down causing pressure on the horse’s poll.
A horse that is trained properly to ride with a leverage bit should respond by bringing his nose in, lowering his head and slowing his foot movements until he stops and/or the pressure on the reins is released. It’s always a good idea to allow a horse to get used to the feel of a new bit, a new curb or any curb adjustment before applying pressure to the reins. Always check to make sure everything is positioned on the horse correctly and adjusted correctly before getting on.
Dennis Moreland Tack makes a variety of handmade curbs. From snaffle bit colt to finished horse, you can find the curbs you need at Dennis Moreland Tack. If you have questions call or text 817-312-5305 or write firstname.lastname@example.org
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