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Types of Bit: Pelham, Double, Snaffles, Gags and Bitless by Bimol Bee

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Types of Bit: Pelham, Double, Snaffles, Gags and Bitless by
Article Posted: 05/17/2012
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Articles Written: 1564
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Types of Bit: Pelham, Double, Snaffles, Gags and Bitless

Speaking about Bit and Snaffles it’s necessary to say that bits may work on different zones of the horse's head: bars, the tongue, chin groove, corners of mouth and lips, side of fact, roof of mouth, poll and nose. In fact, there’re several types of bit all of which work on different zones of the horse and offer a different result. Five types of bit include: Snaffles, Double, Pelham, Gags and Bitless.

Snaffle bit is represented by a prolonged piece of metal that is held in horse's mouth by means of reins. This item has the shape of a ling metal stick with two rings on both sides. Snaffle bit is used to better control the horse in the process of riding. With time the horse becomes so accustomed to a bit that doesn’t notice it.


Double bridles consist of three parts: the curb bit, the bradoon and and the curb chain. They can be easily distinguished because a bradoon has a link and round rings, a curb bit has cheeks and no link, and a curb chain is represented by a piece of metal chain attached to one side of the bit lying in the chin groove.

The principle of work of double bridles consists in the offered pressure to two parts of the horse - the poll and the chin groove. This pressure provides with better head carriage and horse’s control. That’s why further refinement is applied at a definite stage of training when the horse needs advanced dressage. These doubles are used when hunting, showing, or jumping.


A Pelham is a bit where the two bits of a double bridge are united into one. Pelham bits have one rein with roundings or two reins for better refinement. This bit can have such variations: jointed, straight bar or tenderly curved (mullen), Kimblewick (a single reined bit with two rein positions), with a port (a turned up section in the middle of the bit). Rugby Pelham can be applied with a sliphead, the way a double bridle is. It looks like a double and can be perfectly used for the show ring. As a rule, Pelhams are very severe and require enough experience to be used correctly.


Gags are very similar to snaffle bits being more severe however. They involve a lever action working on the poll. Gags can be easily noticed when a horse crosses the country showing jumping or playing polo. Gags are considered illegal for dressage. They may have different variations. There’re gags with straight bar (like snaffles), as well as those with single joined or double jointed mouthpieces added to a number of cheeks and rings.

It’s highly recommended to use gag snaffles with two reins in the same style as of a Pelham. Using this type of bit with one rein doesn’t offer any benefit to the horse. It only lets the rider use the lever action.

Generally speaking, gags are severe and can lead to problems if used in a wrong way. It should be used sympathetically and properly in order to offer the best level of control, that’s why gags should be used by only skilled riders.


A bitless bridge or Hackamore is a type of attachment that offers enough control to the rider with no need to use a traditional bit. These bits lye are located outside the horse's mouth. Bitless bridles can have various levels of severity. They are determined by the length of the shank between the nose and reins, and the width/paddying of straps around the head.

If your horse hates traditional bits or has a damaged mouth, you’re highly recommended to use Bitless bridles. But remember that they aren’t allowed in dressage competitions because of their severity.

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