How to fit a loose ring snaffle bit
Loose ring snaffles need to be fitted with care. The design of this type of bit means that the bit rings move freely within the bit ring grooves (the holes within the mouthpiece), which has the potential to pinch the horse’s lips should the bit be a close fit. It’s recommended that there should be an approximate gap between the lips and bit rings of no more than ⅛ inch. If the gap is too big, the mouthpiece will move too much within the mouth as the rider asked for bend and changes of direction. Excessive movement of the mouthpiece from side to side will cause friction, discomfort and potentially damage to the mouth.
The fit of the bit should be assessed at rest and then with the rider taking up a contact. This will ensure that the bit is sitting correctly inside the horse’s mouth. A general guide to ensuring your horse’s bit is at the correct height inside the mouth is to have ½ - 1 lip wrinkles at the corners of the mouth. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the horse’s mouth conformation can vary – if you’re unsure, it’s recommended that you seek the advice of a qualified instructor.
For sensitive horses, or to ensure the loose rings will not pinch the corners of the horse’s mouth, bit guards can be used. Bit guards are flat rings made from rubber or silicone which fit between the horse’s face and the bit rings.
Lozenged/French link loose ring snaffle bits
The design of the loose ring snaffle mouthpiece with a double joint (e.g. French link, lozenge or peanut link) seats the bit across the tongue, with the bars following the contours of the horse’s mouth. When the rider picks up a contact, the rings move further away from the corners of the lips. Therefore, as long as there is a sufficient gap between the lips and bit rings at rest, it should be a correct and accurate fit once a contact is taken.
Single jointed loose ring snaffle bits
With a single jointed loose ring you will need up to ¼ inch/6mm clearance between the bit rings and the lips on either side; a single jointed bit will move forwards, forming a “V” shape and shortens up in the mouth when a contact is taken. The additional clearance allows for the bit to shorten up without the lips coming into contact with the rings.
Unjointed, shaped or straight bar loose ring snaffle bits
Straight bar, mullen mouth or unjointed mouthpieces should fit the same at rest as when a contact is taken up. The mouthpiece cannot be shortened up in the mouth with a contact, so an ⅛ inch gap should be sufficient.
For further advice on bitting please call us on 01785 472221 or see the Bitting Advice section of our blog.