A snaffle bit is defined as a bit that works without leverage. It is most commonly made with a jointed (or broken) mouthpiece. Three common types of snaffles used in western training are the D Ring (A), the Eggbutt (B) and the O Ring (C). It’s easy to think all 3 of these snaffles work in the same way if they have the same mouthpiece but when we break it down they actually have very different actions. If we take a closer look we can see where each one might help a colt learn to respond to the pull better than another as training progresses.
A snaffle is made of rings where the headstall and reins are attached and a jointed (and occasionally an unjointed) mouthpiece. There are a wide variety of jointed mouthpieces available in snaffles but there are only 3 main types of rings used in western training: the D Ring (including the Offset D) the Eggbutt and the O Ring.
In general the snaffle mouthpiece applies pressure to 3 areas in the mouth: the tongue, the bars (area of the mouth between the molars and incisors) and the palate. The rings on each type of snaffle apply pressure to the sides of the lips and face. Each type of ring applies pressure over a smaller or larger area on the sides of the face and consequently to a different degree than the others.
The Offset D Ring snaffle (labeled A in the photos) has rings that do not rotate like the O ring snaffle, they are fixed in place. They are a good choice when initially starting a colt because as the rein is pulled the D ring on the opposite side of the pull applies pressure to the sides of the lips and face. This helps the horse learn he needs to respond to the pressure. In the close up of the inside of this Offset D (lower photo A) you can see the entire side of the D Ring will touch the side of the horse’s face. Since this is an Offset D (the rounded part of the D ring is set off to the side of the straight bar that the mouthpiece is connected to) the straight bar will come in contact first.
The snaffle in the photo labeled B is an Eggbutt. This is also a fixed ring snaffle and the rings works similarly to the Offset D. While looking at the close up (lower photo B) you can see the egg shaped ring has a larger diameter where the mouthpiece is attached. This area applies pressure to the sides of the lips, like the Offset D, but the area of pressure is smaller. Like the Offset D Ring the Eggbutt is a good snaffle to start a colt in so it can learn to respond more easily to the direct rein pull.
The O Ring snaffle is shown in the photos labeled C. These rings rotate around the mouthpiece. This type of snaffle covers the least area on the sides of the lips when a direct rein pull is made. Many colts are started and trained exceptionally well in an O Ring snaffle, it is the most common type snaffle in western disciplines, but it doesn’t apply pressure to as large an area on the sides of the lips as the D Ring or Eggbutt. The rotation of the rings can be useful in many horses to help increase salivation and acceptance of the bit. This is a good choice to continue training in once the horse is comfortable with responding to pressure.
Dennis Moreland Tack hand makes Offset D Ring Snaffles, Eggbutt Snaffles and O Ring Snaffles. There are a nice variety of mouthpieces available, most with inlaid copper to promote salivation. Call 817-312-5305 for more information.
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