Tack & Gear

Snaffle Bit Adjustment

Adjusting the snaffle bit.

Improve communication with your horse with these snaffle bit adjustment tips from horseman Ron Ralls.

EquiStat $1 million rider Ron Ralls has a certain preference when it comes to snaffle bit adjustment in his horse’s mouth. Ralls adjusts the headstall so the bit hangs about a quarter-inch off the corners of the mouth.

To test the placement, Ralls takes both of his hands and lightly pulls each side of the bit —where the mouthpiece connects to the bit’s sides or rings—away from the corners of the horse’s mouth. When the bit easily moves forward about a quarter-inch, Ralls feels it’s adjusted correctly.

Should the horse open its mouth, the bit may look as if it’s hanging a bit. But to Ralls, it’s in the correct spot if when the mouth is closed, the bit is not causing a wrinkle in the corners of the horse’s mouth.

“If I slack the reins, I want that pressure to come out of the corners of the mouth a little bit, I don’t want it staying up there tight,” says Ralls.

Ralls’ preferred placement allows a horse to feel the release from rein pressure, which is ever-important in the training of any performance horse, be it a barrel horse or reined cow horse.

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