Snaffle or Curb Do you know the Difference????

Posted by letsgoride on April 14, 2014 at 10:35 PM

As a horse person, I have heard a lot stated about bits and bitting. A lot of what I have heard and has been published is very good, and a lot of it is written in error and steeped in misunderstanding. The topic I'd like to address in reference to bits is the difference between the two types of bits: the snaffle and the curb



There are a lot of misconceptions out there surrounding this issue. The two biggest is that all curb bits have a solid mouth piece and all snaffles have a jointed mouth piece. This is perhaps partially due to the fact that many tack supply catalogues sell "western or shanked snaffles" (i.e. Tom Thumb). When there is no such thing. The configuration of the mouthpiece, or if it has shanks, has nothing to do whatsoever with figuring whether a bit is a snaffle or a curb. For instance a "Kimberwick" is often classified as a snaffle when it is in fact a curb.



A snaffle bit is a simple, direct action bit. However much backward pressure the rider exerts on the reins is exactly what the horse feels in his mouth. It may or may not have jointed mouth pieces. The pressure from the snaffle bit is directed to the corners of the horse's mouth, the bars, the tongue, and sometimes the roof of the mouth, depending on the shape and conformation of the horse's mouth.

The curb bit, however, is a more advanced and very complex bit. Essentially it is a leverage bit, meaning that the pressure is directed to the entire head (poll, chin and mouth). The amount of backward pressure the rider exerts on the reins is multiplied by a number of factors all relating to its design.

I could go into all the complexities of the mechanics behind the curb bit, but that's another lesson for another day. Until then, Happy Trails!


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