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Curb Bits: How Does this Type of Horse Bit Work?

A curb bit to some is the answer for a fractious horse, but to others it is a sure recipe for disaster. While some agree that if used in small quantities it does have its merits, they are also quick to point out that a curb bit should be used on a horse only when working in a collected mode.

The goal is to have the animalís entire body respond, even though you have more pressure in its mouth than if you were using a snaffle bit. In order to ascertain this heightened power, it is advisable to experience it yourself first hand. To this end, relieve your horse of its bridle and place your fist directly between the curb chain and the mouthpiece.

The pressure this will put on your fist may surprise you. This is a good illustration for the fact that while a snaffle bit two ounces of pressure on the bit itself will give you an equal force of pressure on the

mouth,Picture of a Curb Bit the curb bit will actually multiply your two ounces by as much as four times! Thus, it is wise to know the kind of pressure your horse will feel before actually applying it to the animal.

It is not surprising that horse enthusiasts eye the curb bit with a bit of trepidation. The tool itself consists of a mouthpiece which as a shank located on either side. You will be able to attach a bridle or curb chain to the upper shank, while the reins can be attached to the lower shank. What makes this devise so functional is the fact that it gains its power from rotation, allowing one shank to go back and the top to go forward. The chain will squeeze the jaw, subsequently letting the bridle apply pressure to the poll.

Considering the kind of power you will be able to exercise with the curb bit, you will need to be wise in selecting the right kind of bit for you. There is the Pelham which is nothing more than a curb bit with a curb rein as well as a snaffle rein, thus being useful as either bit. Of course to fully use it to your advantage you will need to refrain from pulling on both reins simultaneously. The other device on the market is the Kimberwicke which is considered a gentle kind of curb. Last but not least is the full bridle which is simply a combination of a snaffle and a curb bit. The goal of this setting permits the snaffle to exercise control of the animal while the curb portion permits the horse to remain collected. This latter implement is perhaps the hardest kind to use and should only be done by someone well trained in using such instruments of control. Of course, if applied incorrectly, even the mildest kind of curb can be harsh!

When you are ready to pick out a curb, keep in mind the size and shaping of the mouthpiece; for example a smooth port that angles backward a little is more easily accepted by a horse than other kinds, including a straight bar. Similarly, if it is too large it will rock from side to side, creating a possibility for injury and lack of control. It may take a bit of tinkering to figure out just which mouthpiece will work best for your animal. By way of suggestion, a curb bit should have a somewhat thick mouthpiece but it should not be overly. Additionally, stay away from the bits that exert pressure downward, since it will injure the animalís tongue. Even the selection of material is important. Aluminum Ė although cost effective Ė should be avoided because of the bad taste it will leave in the animalís mouth.

Once you have selected the appropriate curb bit that will work for your horse, take some time to properly fit the curb chain. This fitting should permit the bit to rate back 45 degrees; while there is no hard and fast rule of thumb, there is the general suggestion that two fingers between the curb chain and the animalís chin are a good place to start. Additionally, make sure that there are no knotted or twisted materials underneath the animalís jaw.

To gage your success with this bit, you will want to observe the animal when you are stopping: if it is throwing back its head, the bit may need to be adjusted or replaced with one that fits better.

Read the next horse riding tips article on Riding in a Storm.
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