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The Curb Bit

About the Curb Bit

The curb bit is used most of all by western riders, and differs from the snaffle bit in several ways.

When you pull on the reins, it amplifies the pressure on the bit. This differs greatly from the snaffle bit, which reflects the exact amount of pressure that you put on the reins. For example, one pound of pressure on the reins would only put one pound of pressure on the snaffle bit.

What does this mean for your horse? It means that more pressure will be placed upon the horse with less effort from you.

A curb bit works on several parts of a horse's head and mouth. The bit mouthpiece acts on the bars, tongue and roof of the mouth. The shanks add leverage and place pressure on the poll via the crownpiece of the bridle, to the chin groove via the curb chain, and, especially with a "loose jaw" shank, may act on the sides of the mouth and jaw.

Just like with any other bit, make sure it is made of a high quality material. If it is poorly made, then you may find you hurt your horse more than you actually help it, which you certainly don’t want! Remember - the purpose of the bit is to communicate with the horse, not to damage it in any way.

Fitting a Curb Bit:

Place a curb bit lower down in a horse's mouth than you would a snaffle bit, just touching the corners of the mouth, or creating a single slight wrinkle in the lips. The lower you place a curb bit, the more severe it is. This is because the bars of the mouth get thinner and consequently pressure is more concentrated.

Adjust the curb chain correctly: it should lie flat against the chin groove and only come into action against the jaw when the shank is rotated. Don’t make it so loose that the shank exceeds 45 degrees of rotation.

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