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Snaffle Ring Types
 By Winniefield Park   •   15th Oct 2017   •   2,430 views   •   0 comments


Why are there so many types of rings on a snaffle? The rings on snaffle bits are the most obvious part because when a horse wears a snaffle, the ring isn't hidden inside the horse’s mouth. Now you might recall, that a snaffle bit works only within the horse’s mouth. The amount of ‘pull’ you apply to the reins is exactly the amount of pull your horse will feel in its mouth. Joints, links and differently shaped mouthpieces might blunt or amp up that pressure a little. Here’s a look at the most common rings you’ll see.

Loose Ring Snaffle
Loose Ring Snaffle

Loose Ring
This was probably the first type of bit ever made. The rings are attached to the bit by a loop of metal on each end of the mouthpiece. The rings can rotate freely inside these loops. It’s a simple bit, often used on young horses, although there are horses, like my own, that have ridden their entire lives in one. Because the rings are loose, the horse is able to move its tongue and jaw quite freely. For some horses, this is a good thing. For others, it may just encourage them to fuss with the bit.

The downside of a loose ring is that the horse’s lips can be pinched in the small gap between the ring and the loop that attaches it to the mouthpiece, and if the horse pulls strongly, it is possible to pull the bit through the horse’s mouth. Flat rubber rings can be put around inside the rings to prevent these problems. Something called a wing cheek snaffle may help with this too. This bit looks like the rings are attached through two squashed trumpet horns to the mouthpiece.

Eggbutt Snaffle
Eggbutt Snaffle

Eggbutt
The eggbutt snaffle solves the problem of the bit pinching the horse’s lips because the joint is away from the mouthpiece. These bits sit a bit more firmly in the horse’s mouth and aren’t as flexible as a loose ring. Because the mouthpiece starts out quite thick where the rings attach, it is often regarded as a soft bit for a sensitive horse. For others, however, a thick bit might make them feel like they are carrying too much of a mouthful. As with loose ring snaffles, the eggbutts can be pulled through a horse’s mouth.

D Ring Snaffle
D Ring Snaffle

D-Ring
D-rings attach to the mouth of the bit in a similar way to Eggbutt snaffles rings do. But the part that attaches to the rings is more like a post. This makes the bit fairly stable in the horse’s mouth, and it is less likely to get pulled through the horse’s mouth. These are commonly used on racehorses, hunters, eventers and many horses that are ridden English.

Full Cheek Snaffle
Full Cheek Snaffle

Full Cheek
This is a commonly used bit similar to the D-ring. The full cheek snaffle is made so the bit can not be pulled through the horse’s mouth. One caveat is that the posts on these bits can become entangled in tack, twigs or clothing. One story circulating around the internet is about a woman whose horse caught a bit post in the stirrup as it nibbled at her foot. It caused the horse to panic and spin, throwing the rider.

Half-Cheek Snaffle
Half-Cheek Snaffle

Half-Cheek
A half-cheek snaffle is often used on ponies, and it can be a driving bit. The post, which extends down from the ring tends to be more spoon-like than those on the full cheek. Like many others, it is made so that the bit will not pull through the horse’s mouth.

Fulmer Snaffle
Fulmer Snaffle

Fulmer
You might mistake a Fulmer snaffle for a full cheek, but there are subtle differences. The Fulmer snaffle is made so it doesn’t pull through the horse’s mouth. It is a more flexible bit, however, more like a loose ring snaffle. Because the post and loops that the bit rings are attached to are further from the horse’s mouth, there is less chance of the horse being pinched.

Hanging or Baucher Snaffle
Hanging or Baucher Snaffle

Hanging or Baucher
There a bit of debate about whether the hanging snaffle is a real snaffle, or there is some leverage involved. The rings are fixed more or less like an eggbutt. But, the bridle attaches a few inches above the rein rings on a separate ring. This means, that when you pull the reins, you may be placing pressure on the poll. Because the cheek piece is so short, the leverage will be minimal. This bit sits very firmly in the horse’s mouth. The mouthpiece may lift away from the horse's’ tongue when the rein aids are used. This may be agreeable to some horses. The Baucher snaffle bit provides a bit more ‘whoa’ than a loose ring or eggbut snaffle.
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