About the equipment

The thickness of the snaffle

From time to another there is huge discussions about bit thickness. When I grow up in here in Sweden we where all looking at tho old “ardenner bits” (The most common draft horse in Sweden was called Ardenner) hanging in old farmer barns. The where mostly thinner than 1/2”, some times they were made of twinned wire, and for us kids they did look horrible and was a sign for us how mean the older generation were to their horses.

Back then in the 70th all us kids “know” that a bit shall not be to thin. Unfortunately no one told us what was the right thickness, just that it should not be to thin, so “everyone” bought the thickest bit they could find … Therefore there was a market for ... Read more

The length of the snaffle

Most snaffle bits are made to stay centered in the mouth, and as long as possible we shall try to keep it centered in the mouth. It is, however, no panic if the horse prefer to wear it more to one side than the other. We can let the horse choose that. You can find several pictures of horses with a loose rein and the bit pointing out more on one side than the other. If the horse wants it like that – let him.
The interesting thing to sort out is, how do we keep the bit centered?

I don't think anything in the construction of the mouth piece can center the bit. If it can slide, it will slide.

The best way from avoiding the bit from sliding in the horses mouth, is to attach some kind of stop on the outside. If your ... Read more

Ren aids affect the opposite cheek

Consider that you sit on a very stiff, lazy, resistant and non obedient horse with a bad mouth. You have no bridle, only a rope from your left hand through the lazy horse's mouth and to your right hand.

It is a non abrasive rope with the taste of honey and apple so it won't sore his mouth

Now, you stretch your right "rein". What do you think will happen?

- The rope will slide through his mouth to the right. How much depends on how “hard mouth” the horse has, and how hard we pull in the rope. To "adjust" this, we need to put stops on each side of the horse's mouth, like full cheek.

I think that as long as we work with one rein, the snaffle has most influence on the sides of the mouth; on the ... Read more

The nose band

The origin of the nose band probably comes from the halter, so the nose band is older than the bridle. The nose band have been there for the rider to tie his horse up. That's why the nose bands had been there in most armies. The army riders also rode with a rope from the nose band/halter and around the horse's neck, to use while tying the horse up for the night.

We all know that a tight nose band is not good. Still plenty of riders over tighten the nose band, hoping their horse will get more obedient and more subtle or something else. It is fun that no matter how hard those riders tighten their nose bands, they still claim that a to tight nose band is not good. Though, they don't think they tighten it to hard but know a lot of ... Read more

Tight nosebands

When we do something to a horse there is usually a reason followed by consequences and we hope that the consequences give validity to the reason.

So many riders like to ride with a tight noseband that I feel we should all look more closely at the reasons why. Even the most conservative books on equitation recommend two fingers clearance after adjustment.

To keep the horses mouth shut. Why? To stop him putting his tongue over the bit! Why does he put his tongue over the bit? I believe that the tongue goes over the bit by accident because what he is really trying to do is to push the bit away because it hurts and occasionally it slips over. With a tight nose band it is less obvious and does prevent the tongue from going ... Read more

About cavesons

Apart from longeing, cavesons can be used for riding in the same way as a snaffle or side pull. The caveson can also be combined with a snaffle, and works well with a curb bit.

The caveson can be used to halt, bend, lift and lead a horse, and has basically the same functions as a snaffle. Some horses work best with a caveson, others with a snaffle. For horses with a "hard mouth", a caveson is often a good way to get the horse in favor of riding and the rider's hand again.

Cavesons may have a chain nose band, a solid steel nose band or a simple leather nose band. My experience is that a solid nose band is the best, since it is sturdier and although it will move slightly sideways, it stays in place on the horse's nose and ... Read more

To select curb bit

There is no reason to look for extreme variations of the curb in your bid to improve your riding experience. Certainly there are lots of variations and it can seem impenetrable, but you can follow some simple ground rules.

Where should I start?

If you are uncertain, you should first consult your coach or someone else you trust. What follows here is general advice; no guarantees!

As a first curb, I usually recommend the Portuguese curb. It works well on most horses and can be used alone, with two reins or together with a bradoon.

With the horse's reaction to this bit as a starting point, you can, if necessary, try other models.

Port

Most horses get on well with a normal (low) port. Some horses, ... Read more

Poll pressure and anathomic bridles

From time to another poll pressure is high fashion and told to be goos as it encourage the horse to lower his head. Other times, poll pressure is almost an ugly word, something that must be avoided. In Sweden, the latter is modern now.

Some companies have invented “anatomic” bridles that shall avoid avoid poll pressure on the horse. Those bridles are often used together with a snaffle. When you ride with a snaffle and stretches the rein, you lift the snaffle up against the corners of the horse's mouth. The more you pull in the snaffle rein, the looser the head piece becomes and the smaller the pressure of the poll gets. So instead of spending big money on those ugly but modern poll saving bridles, teach your horse to ... Read more