The snaffle is commonly seen in the English and Western world of horseback riding. It can be considered mild or severe depending on the type. There are many variations with the rings and mouthpieces. This bit can be a great starter for young and green horses. It can also work well with more experienced horses.

A snaffle is known as a direct pressure bit. The horse will feel the same amount of pressure in his mouth in which you applied to the reins. Unlike a leverage bit, the snaffle lies on the horse’s tongue, and doesn’t rely on jaw pressure. It consists of a mouthpiece with a joint in the center, bars, and rings.

Types of Mouthpieces

  • Jointed: This is a very common type. It allows direct pressure on either side of the mouth. If too much pressure is applied, a nutcracker effect can cause discomfort in the horse’s mouth.
  • Twisted: A more severe bit, the twisted mouthpiece can be seen as a slow twist, single twist, or double. The curved edges create pressure points in the mouth.
  • Mullen: Without a joint, this snaffle is a mild bit usually made of rubber. Pressure is distributed across the mouth.
  • Dr. Bristol: The joint is a thin rectangle. The edges press into the tongue to create pressure.
  • French Link: Similar to the Dr. Bristol, the French link has a rounded bone-like joint. It allows for control of each side individually, but still distributes pressure more evenly compared to a regular jointed bit.
  • Roller: Known for helping horses relax in the jaw, roller snaffles have a series of pieces that spin.

Different Rings

  • Loose Ring: A round ring that can rotate. There is a risk of pinching the horse’s cheeks.
  • D-Ring: These form D-rings and offer no rotation.
  • Egg Butt: The rings form the shape of eggs. There is a reduced risk of pinching.
  • Full Cheek: Not easily pulled through the horse’s mouth. The full cheek is a circle with extended cheek pieces. A half cheek only has a lower cheek extension.

There are many other types of snaffle variations; however, these are the most common. It can be tricky to find the combination that works best with your horse. Try starting with a mild bit and go from there. Turn to your trainer for more information on your individual horse.