Snaffles are the most common groups of bits for every day riding. Snaffle bits are identified as having no leverage or pulley action and do not have a curb chain. There is a vast variety of snaffle bits on the market, allowing you to find the most suitable option for your horse. They vary in severity, depending on the type and thickness of the mouthpiece. Snaffles apply pressure to the lips, tongues and bars of the mouth and have a general upwards action, encouraging the horse to raise his head and neck.
Loose ring snaffles are one of the most common types of snaffle bit. The bit rings allow the mouthpiece to move so that it may follow the angle of the tongue; the angle of the poll and the overall outline of the horse change throughout different work, so a flexible bit will follow this movement. Loose ring snaffle bits have much more movement and “play” than a fixed cheek snaffle which increases acceptance and discourages the horse from fixing or leaning. Read more about the action of a loose ring snaffle bit here.
Fitting a loose ring snaffle Loose ring snaffles should be fitted with care; there needs to be a gap between the lips and the bit rings so as the lips cannot be pinched, but the gap should not be so bit that the mouthpiece can be pulled across the mouth as the rider changes bend or direction. If the bit does slide across the mouth it can cause friction, discomfort and possibly damage. To prevent the bit from pinching the lips, bit guards can be used.
When selecting the correct bit for your horse remember that conformation, age, stage of training, type of work, oral health and your ability as a rider are all contributing factors. If in doubt, it’s recommended that the rider seek advice from their instructor when choosing a bit.