What is a French link loose ring snaffle?
One of the most popular bits used for flatwork is the French link loose ring snaffle. “French link” refers to the flat piece of metal that sits in the centre of the mouthpiece, joining the two halves of the bit together. This mouthpiece applies mild action to the horse’s tongue when required. The bit rings move freely which makes the bit more flexible and not “fixed” in the horse’s mouth. The movement encourages the horse to relax and accept the contact. Loose ring French link snaffles are British Dressage legal (please check your rulebook for details of materials allowed) and are usually readily accepted by most horses. Many people choose this bit when commencing ridden work with young horses due to its mild action.
The French link mouthpiece works well when combined with loose bit rings; it offers a more even distribution of pressure on the tongue, bars and lips when compared to a single-jointed snaffle. When using a French link bit the horse shouldn’t experience any upper palate interference or pinching to the lips which is associated with the nutcracker action of a single joint. The French link itself sits on the centre of the tongue whilst the two bars attach to either end of the link allowing it to follow the contours of the horse’s mouth. This double-jointed design results in more uniform pressure distribution through the horse’s mouth which is why it’s referred to as a mild action bit.
The loose rings of this bit allow the mouthpiece to move freely within the horse’s mouth, which then ensures the mouthpiece can sit comfortably over its tongue. The loose ring is particularly favourable when combined with the French link as it allows the horse to develop a nice, consistent feel in the mouth without feeling “fixed”, teaching the horse to relax its lower jaw thus reducing tension. This design also promotes self-carriage as the horse develops in its training and reduces the chance of the horse leaning on the bit.
How to fit a French link loose ring snaffle
When fitting a French link snaffle, we recommend that the bit rings sit clear of the horse’s lips – as they move freely, there is a greater chance of them pinching. We often refer to the hole in the mouthpiece as the bit ring groove (the ring runs through this hole) and we suggest the lip is clear of this groove to minimize the chance of any interference. It’s important when assessing the fit of the bit that the rider takes up a contact – this then allows for an accurate assessment to be made.
Not all horses respond well to a loose ring French link snaffle as, sometimes, the bit does not give the rider adequate control over the horse.
The French link loose ring snaffle should not be confused with the similar looking Dr Bristol – the Dr Bristol also features a central link but this link is set at an angle for a more severe action unlike the French link which should sit flat.
For further advice on bitting please call us on 01785 472221, or visit the Bitting Advice section of our blog.