Snaffle Bit Types: Uses, Differences & Tips

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Snaffle bit types are many, and all of them comprise a bit mouthpiece and rings on both sides; it works when you apply direct pressure. This bit is mainly used to maintain adequate communication between the rider and a horse.

Years ago, I learned how to ride a horse, and at that time, I was introduced to all the equipment you need while horse riding. First, when I saw the ring-type thing, I asked my sir what it is? He explained me, and then I understood the snaffle bit meaning.

You need a bridle to which reins and a bit will be attached, it is a headgear used to control a horse while riding. To know more about its type, you have to go through the entire discussion.

The way to use a snaffle bit

The most commonly used one is the eggbutt snaffle bit. Firstly, you need to connect it with the bridle and fix the bit with the horse’s mouth. While riding, when you pull the reins, the bar of the horse’s mouth feels the pressure. The area where there are no teeth but the lips and the tongue is the bar of the mouth.

The snaffle bit fits perfectly within the front and back teeth gap, which helps to crop grass and then grind them. Using it, the pressure is not being applied on the pole of a horse. So, that’s how you can use a bit while riding a horse.

Difference between the loose ring and eggbutt snaffle bit

Both the bits are good in their own ways. Let’s see the differences below:

  • Eggbutt snaffle has a single jointed mouthpiece and a straight arm, whereas the loose ring snaffle bit is round and available in varieties of diameter.
  • Eggbutt has comparatively less movement than a loose ring. It prevents rotation and allows stability to stretch down and upwards.
  • A loose ring lets the jaw relax but pinch the sides of the mouth; on the other hand, eggbutt doesn’t pinch which the horses tolerate.
  • Eggbutt is relatively easy to guide with than the loose ring as the action of the fixed bar is more precise.
  • A loose ring is better for stronger horses as it allows more control than the fixed eggbutt.

So, these are some of the dissimilarities between these two snaffle bit types. You can take the one which will suit your horse and wear which the animal will feel comfortable.

Western bits

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Western Sweet Iron Mouth Dog Bone Snaffle
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These bits are popular for horses of all sizes and ages. The Western snaffle bit is joined in the middle and is very smooth. It can be used for training young horses or old school ones, and basic training operations. 

These snaffle bit types are huge as there are so many available options. Depending on their sizes, categories, brands, colors, shipping or delivery days, and price range, you can buy them. So, you can easily choose one from such a classification of bits based on your taste and your horse’s comfort.

Full cheek bit

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Sweet Iron Full Cheek Snaffle Bit
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There are upright cheekpieces that prevent the ring of the bit from sliding into the horse’s mouth. It also encourages turning the horse, and if the full cheek snaffle bit is used with keepers or bit loops, it’ll have a more accurate position in the mouth.

This cheek bit is suitable for beginner riders and newly trained horses. It fits comfortably in the horse’s mouth and prevents sideways movement of the mouthpiece. The snaffle bit also improves the deliverance of the maneuver and turnout.

Dissimilarities between snaffle bit and curb bit

A lot of people think both the bits are the same, but it actually is not. Snaffle bit works when you apply direct pressure, and curb bit works off with leverage. Let’s see some clear differences between them below:

  • Snaffle bit separates the rotation or leverage while curb bit doesn’t.
  • Using snaffle bit, when you pull off the rein, the horse feels an equal amount of pressure in his mouth and responds, but curb bit needs to create leverage to do so.
  • Snaffle bit directly connects to the bar of the horse’s mouth, whereas curb bit connects at the end of the shank.
  • When you pull the rein using a snaffle bit, it creates pressure on the mouth, and using a curb bit; you’ll be pulling down and up on the base of the shank nether the mouth.

So, that’s the dissimilarities between snaffle bit vs curb bit. Both the bits are different for the reasons mentioned above. Snaffle bits have many types, and some also have characteristics of both the bits. Thus, a curb bit is not always harsh, and a snaffle bit is not all the time mild.

Hopefully, now you can recognize either bit and use it accordingly.

Types of snaffle bits for riding a horse

If you try to research the snaffle bit types, you will find various kinds of them. But now you don’t have to suffer searching for them because I’ll mention all categories of bits for you below:

English snaffle bit types:

  • Eggbutt French link snaffle.
  • Full cheek double snaffle with twisted wire.
  • D-ring snaffle with a smooth bar and single joint.
  • Loose ring Mullen snaffle covered with polymer.
  • Double bridle: Weymouth and Bridoon.
  • Pelham bit with a copper link.
  • English shank bit.
  • Kimberwick with medium port and roller.

Western snaffle bit types:

  • Mullen mouth curb bit with shanks.
  • Gag bit.
  • Ported curb bit with jointed angle shanks and roller.
  • Hanging cheek snaffle with copper lozenge.
  • Correction bit.
  • Cathedral bit with sweet iron.
  • Chain bit with cavalry shanks and port.
  • Tom thumb.

So, these are some types of the snaffle bit, and you will find them in many online shops like Amazon, The Saddlery Shop, The Horse Bit Shop, Smith and Edwards co., NRS, etc. You can get your desired snaffle bit from these online shops and enjoy fantastic horse riding.

Side effects of snaffle bits

Usually, it doesn’t hurt the horse while riding as applying direct pressure is lighter than with leverage. But again, there are certain kinds of snaffle bits made with twisted wires and sharp steel; these are extremely harsh to the horse. Such snaffle bits manufactured by harmful elements may also cut the mouth of the horse.

So, be careful while you choose a snaffle bit for your horse, and avoid purchasing rough or thin surfaced snaffle as it damages the horse’s mouth.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What are the varieties of snaffle bits?

Answer: There are five varieties of snaffle bits, and they are eggbutt, full cheek, D-ring, half cheek, and loose ring.

2. How should I choose my snaffle bit?

Answer: While choosing, you have to consider your horse’s training level and your own experience while choosing a snaffle bit.

3. Which one is the harshest snaffle bit for horses?

Answer: The wire mouth bits have huge configurations, and among them, the thin wired bit can be very harsh as it may cut the mouth of your horse.

4. Which is the kindest bit for a horse?

Answer: Every bit can be harsh in the wrong hands and kind in the right ones. In soft hands, a loose ring bit can make your sensitive horse happy.

5. What is a Tom Thumb bit?

Answer: It is a bit that is a hybrid between the direct pressure one and the leverage bits. Sometimes a western snaffle bit is called Tom Thumb.

6. What is the work of a shank bit?

Answer: It is a cheekpiece of a curb bit and a part of the bridle, which allows support to sum up with the pressure of the rider’s hand placed on the bit. 

7. Can a horse eat wearing a bit?

Answer: It is hard for your horse to chew wearing a bit because it rests on the tongue and thus, interferes in the action of chewing, which may cause problems if swallowed.


Now you know about all the snaffle bit types, so you can easily get one for your horse which won’t be harsh and be comfortable for your animal. You have to consider the peace and relief of your horse wearing a bit while on a trail.

If you purchase any type of bit and fix it on your animal you will see the bit has either hurt the horse or cut his mouth with sharp edges after riding for a while. Thus, the horse will never want to go on a ride carrying you on his back.

Besides considering your comfort, you have to be sympathetic towards your animal also as he will accompany you throughout the whole ride. If you care for your horse, he will also love you in return.

So, get the snaffle bit which will perfectly fit your horse, and you can also enjoy the whole ride having fun.

I hope, you will follow the discussion and take steps accordingly. Have a great trip indeed!

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