Western riders often use a curb bit when looking for greater control while riding. The bit can be considered severe in the wrong hands. However, it can also be a useful tool for those with experience and a gentle hand. For those considering this bit, it is important to learn how it functions and the purpose of it.
When examining a curb bit, you will notice a mouthpiece, curb chain, and a shank. There will be a few different rings to connect the headstall, reins, and chain. These bits come in a variety of mouthpieces and shanks. Some may have a straight mouthpiece, while others can have rollers, ports, or keys. Longer shanks are considered more severe.
Curbs are known as leverage bits because the shanks apply pressure to the poll, unlike a snaffle which directly influences the mouth. The shanks pull down the crown of the headstall and tighten the curb chain against the chin. The curb chain applies pressure, but it also keeps the bit from moving around too much in the mouth.
Riders must learn to keep their aids much more subtle. Your hands must be independent of your body and relatively quiet, unless you intend to apply pressure. Furthermore, your other aids, such as your weight and legs, must be utilized before you reach for the reins. Western riders that neck rein will have slack in their reins and have little contact.
Curb bits are helpful for those intending to collect their horses. They can aid in getting the horse to use his entire body. They are generally not recommend for starting horses. As you consider the curb bit, make sure to question your intentions and ability to correctly use it.