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  1. #21
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    Growing up in continental Europe, the bit most used for anything was a two piece snaffle.

    There were a few curbs, like the one on a double bridle with a bradoon, the military ones with a smallish port and Kimberwicks, with D sides to the curb mouthpiece, not real shanks.
    There was the rare Pelham mentioned, but those were used more in the Brisith Islands, we didn't have them and some specialist driving bits.

    We did have mullen mouth snaffles, again, snaffle being considered any bit with direct action from bit to hand, without shanks to provide any kind of leverage.

    When I came to the Eastern USA, again, we didn't have any other bits than what I was familiar with, but we did have more Pelhams and Kimberwick ones in use.

    Then I came to the West and saw my first snaffles with shanks and wondered how that worked, didn't make logical sense to me that such bits would be consistent in their actions.
    I did the bit in hand test with one, happen to be a Tom Thumb and an old timer, that had been very successful with ranch and roping/cutting horses helped with the rein handling.
    I still could not see those kinds of bit really doing anything consistent and, being asked by the old timer what I was looking for, the old timer laughed and told me yes, those shanked snaffles were very much useless and more of a West type bit, from CA and those state's type western riding.
    I asked why was that bit then in their tack room and was told the one that tried to use it realized it didn't work "worth beans" and when he left, he left that bit behind.
    That one may still be in the old bit box somewhere around here.
    That was several decades ago.

    Now, I have seen many, many people ride in them, most with horses objecting but still getting done what they are doing.
    So, to each their own, but at least do give all this a bit more thought, the next horses you ride will thank you.



  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    For me, when a horse is resisting painfully, it hurts for the horse, that has to bear the uneducated or less than polite hands behind whatever bit, no matter what you call it.
    Well, of course it does. But, the TT is for a well-broke horse, one that will take just about anything in its' mouth and go along nicely. They aren't the best bit out there but won't hurt a horse who's standing around or just moseying down the trail. I once read a woman's report on how a TT just hurts a horse by being in its' mouth. Really?? A performance bit it ain't. Somehow some 'trainers' got the idea the TT was the next step up from a ring snaffle before going to the curb. You'd think they'd figgure it out.
    GR24's Musing #18 - More a reminder than a muse, on the first of the month, do your boob check for any lumps or differences.



  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    Growing up in continental Europe, the bit most used for anything was a two piece snaffle.

    There were a few curbs, like the one on a double bridle with a bradoon, the military ones with a smallish port and Kimberwicks, with D sides to the curb mouthpiece, not real shanks.
    There was the rare Pelham mentioned, but those were used more in the Brisith Islands, we didn't have them and some specialist driving bits.

    We did have mullen mouth snaffles, again, snaffle being considered any bit with direct action from bit to hand, without shanks to provide any kind of leverage.

    When I came to the Eastern USA, again, we didn't have any other bits than what I was familiar with, but we did have more Pelhams and Kimberwick ones in use.

    Then I came to the West and saw my first snaffles with shanks and wondered how that worked, didn't make logical sense to me that such bits would be consistent in their actions.
    I did the bit in hand test with one, happen to be a Tom Thumb and an old timer, that had been very successful with ranch and roping/cutting horses helped with the rein handling.
    I still could not see those kinds of bit really doing anything consistent and, being asked by the old timer what I was looking for, the old timer laughed and told me yes, those shanked snaffles were very much useless and more of a West type bit, from CA and those state's type western riding.
    I asked why was that bit then in their tack room and was told the one that tried to use it realized it didn't work "worth beans" and when he left, he left that bit behind.
    That one may still be in the old bit box somewhere around here.
    That was several decades ago.

    Now, I have seen many, many people ride in them, most with horses objecting but still getting done what they are doing.
    So, to each their own, but at least do give all this a bit more thought, the next horses you ride will thank you.
    I just had a thought...you're in West/North Texas, right?? That may account for how you perceive the TT and similar bits. When a horse can just go along in a TT, he should be WELL broke, like kid broke and not in a hurry to do anything. A TT isn't for a horse learning to neck rein. That is for the light bosal and ring snaffle and then moving into a light curb and then moving on up to whatever level of performance you'd like. The weight of the rein on the neck, not much mouth actions. I've lived close to you in TX and then up here in the PNW where buckaroos are the norm. The difference is VAST in the way of breaking and training. Just like the differences in way the cowboy wears and shapes his hat. I mean VAST difference.

    As an aside, I can truly say I've not had a horse object to a TT as a saddle horse for trails and plonking around.
    GR24's Musing #18 - More a reminder than a muse, on the first of the month, do your boob check for any lumps or differences.



  4. #24
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    I've had this argument before- with a 4H leader that should know something. Any bit that has shanks and works on leverage is a curb, regardless of the mouthpiece. I understand that when someone says "Tom Thumb snaffle" they are talking about a short shank curb with a broken mouthpiece. That still doesn't make it a true snaffle.



  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by shakeytails View Post
    I've had this argument before- with a 4H leader that should know something. Any bit that has shanks and works on leverage is a curb, regardless of the mouthpiece. I understand that when someone says "Tom Thumb snaffle" they are talking about a short shank curb with a broken mouthpiece. That still doesn't make it a true snaffle.
    Regardless what people want to call any bit, we need to understand how they work and why.

    That we considered snaffles a direct action bit and curbs one with leverage was one way to distinguish them by their function.
    Today, there are so many more bits out there, we really have to say what else any bit it is, just saying it is a snaffle or curb will still have the listener guessing.



  6. #26
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    Bluey I know you didn't ask about spade bits specifically, but here is an awesome video featuring Les Vogt explaining the mechanics of them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYlW9mz9jFw

    Since you're asking about leverage bits you may find it interesting, there are some more videos of him in the related.



  7. #27
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    Curbs have many names...Frog, the aforementioned Santa Barbara and Half-breed, low-med-high ports, spade, Billy Allen, thumbprint, sweet iron, chain, cathedrals, etc. The mouthpiece describes the bit, otherwise, you're saying a 'curb', but what kind??

    Ring snaffles/straight bar/chain/even a slight port has 'ring' somewhere in there. Off-set, slip ring, D-ring, etc.

    Oh, well, as I said before, this is one of those discussions, no one will change their minds. Heh....
    GR24's Musing #18 - More a reminder than a muse, on the first of the month, do your boob check for any lumps or differences.



  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by goneriding24 View Post
    As an aside, I can truly say I've not had a horse object to a TT as a saddle horse for trails and plonking around.
    Probably because a horse just plonking around isn't being asked to really DO anything with that bit, so its not resisting. Tom Thumbs are a nutcracker for a horse's mouth.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by SuckerForHorses View Post
    Probably because a horse just plonking around isn't being asked to really DO anything with that bit, so its not resisting. Tom Thumbs are a nutcracker for a horse's mouth.
    Exactly. But the rider has to have a set of hands, no matter what. Just being aboard a horse going down the trail, something is going to happen (law of averages, of course) and horse will trip, spook, shy, etc and the rider will have to grab rein. But, hopefully, the rider has enough educated hands/seat not to grab the bejeezus out of the horse's mouth. Even in an emergency, grabbing rein/mouth to save your life can happen. So, to my mind, any bit is going to hurt Horse. It's in the hands/seat/situation.

    I once did a trail ride at Lexington, KY horse park (just to say I rode at the big horse park!). All the horses had TT's in their mouths. The riders were the usual bag of potatoes in the saddle, I'm not critizicing, just people who rent the horse once a year. Not once did I see anyone even touch the horse's mouth. No one knew how to use the reins. The horse's were on automatic. So, for the TT to hurt a horse just by being in the mouth, oh, duck pucky!!

    Personally, I'm into the fancier, nicer bits and don't use TT's anymore. I own some but they are wall decoration. I wish I could afford Garcias, good luck with THAT!! http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=...bits&FORM=IGRE

    Sorry for the ramble, but, you know me...get to talking and, well, we are talking bits and horses!!
    GR24's Musing #18 - More a reminder than a muse, on the first of the month, do your boob check for any lumps or differences.



  10. #30
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    One of my favorite references on bits is Horse Control and the Bit by Tom Roberts (1971).
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  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by caradino View Post
    I have always ridden english disciplines, and was taught that a snaffle bit is, generally, any bit without a leverage component with any mouthpiece, and a curb bit is any bit that includes a leverage component, again with any mouthpiece.

    I was speaking to an older gentleman the other day who rides western, and I suggested that his horse may go better in a snaffle as opposed to the long-shanked curb he had him in, since the horse seemed to have a very sensitive mouth and tended to get light up front. (that's a whole 'nother can of worms...) The gentleman said, "Oh but I do ride him in a snaffle! See? A snaffle." and showed me the bit, which was a long-shanked curb with a jointed mouthpiece. His understanding seemed to be that anything with a jointed mouthpiece was a "snaffle" and only bits with straight or ported mouthpieces were curbs, regardless of leverage. He also seemed to think that a straight or ported mouthpiece was more 'severe'.

    I thought this was just a singular misunderstanding, but then I saw the same terminology used in a catalog that sold western tack that I was flipping through this morning.

    Is this a thing?! Do western riders really talk about bits that way?! If so, how is a REAL snaffle differentiated from a "curb with jointed mouthpiece snaffle" ?
    This thread is getting a lot of action (at least for the Western forum ) so I thought I'd play too.

    I was taught basically the same way the OP was. Snaffles have no leverage and curb/shank bits do have leverage. A snaffle doesn't necessarily have a broken mouthpiece just as a curb/shank doesn't necessarily have a port.

    IMHO snaffles are meant to be ridden with two hands and shanks are meant to be ridden with one hand. Nothing grinds my gears more than watching someone yank around in their horses mouth in a shank with one hand on each rein. If you need more contact (which is fine, sometimes when schooling you do), you need to use a bit designed for direct contact because a shank definitely is not.

    That being said, shanks definitely have their place in the horse world. A well trained western horse should be ridden with one hand in a shank. The well trained horse should neck rein and/or move off leg so direct reining isn't necessary and the occasional bump with a shank is fine because it is done equally with both reins because both reins are in one hand.
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  12. #32
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    Snaffles have no leverage and curb/shank bits do have leverage. A snaffle doesn't necessarily have a broken mouthpiece just as a curb/shank doesn't necessarily have a port.

    IMHO snaffles are meant to be ridden with two hands and shanks are meant to be ridden with one hand.
    yes, that's my understanding. A curb has leverage, and a snaffle does not.

    A curb bit has lever action because it has a lever- the shank- and a fulcrum- the mouthpiece. If the mouthpiece isn't a solid bar (it's jointed or flexible), it can't really act as a fulcrum. Therefore no leverage. It's a snaffle bit.

    If you're trying to ride western-style, using indirect rein signals, you can't transmit an indirect rein signal down a jointed mouthpiece.

    Adding shanks to a bit with a jointed mouthpiece creates a completely nonsensical bit of tack.



  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by wendy View Post
    yes, that's my understanding. A curb has leverage, and a snaffle does not.

    A curb bit has lever action because it has a lever- the shank- and a fulcrum- the mouthpiece. If the mouthpiece isn't a solid bar (it's jointed or flexible), it can't really act as a fulcrum. Therefore no leverage. It's a snaffle bit.

    If you're trying to ride western-style, using indirect rein signals, you can't transmit an indirect rein signal down a jointed mouthpiece.

    Adding shanks to a bit with a jointed mouthpiece creates a completely nonsensical bit of tack.
    That I bolded, already told to me by old timers western riders of note 40+ years ago.
    Some times, old timers seem to have been right after all.

    Don't believe me?
    Test this for yourself, put the bit on one hand ... already explained how in a previous post.
    Then come back to tell us what you learned from the experiment.



  14. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by wendy View Post
    yes, that's my understanding. A curb has leverage, and a snaffle does not.

    A curb bit has lever action because it has a lever- the shank- and a fulcrum- the mouthpiece. If the mouthpiece isn't a solid bar (it's jointed or flexible), it can't really act as a fulcrum. Therefore no leverage. It's a snaffle bit.
    The second paragraph contradicts your first paragraph.

    You're saying that a bit with shanks, but a jointed mouthpiece, does not have leverage. It does, because of the shanks.

    Therefore, its a curb because of the shanks and curb chain, not because of what is in the horse's mouth.
    "If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple payments..."



  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bluey View Post
    Growing up in continental Europe, the bit most used for anything was a two piece snaffle.

    There were a few curbs, like the one on a double bridle with a bradoon, the military ones with a smallish port and Kimberwicks, with D sides to the curb mouthpiece, not real shanks.
    There was the rare Pelham mentioned, but those were used more in the Brisith Islands, we didn't have them and some specialist driving bits.

    We did have mullen mouth snaffles, again, snaffle being considered any bit with direct action from bit to hand, without shanks to provide any kind of leverage.

    When I came to the Eastern USA, again, we didn't have any other bits than what I was familiar with, but we did have more Pelhams and Kimberwick ones in use.

    Then I came to the West and saw my first snaffles with shanks and wondered how that worked, didn't make logical sense to me that such bits would be consistent in their actions.
    I did the bit in hand test with one, happen to be a Tom Thumb and an old timer, that had been very successful with ranch and roping/cutting horses helped with the rein handling.
    I still could not see those kinds of bit really doing anything consistent and, being asked by the old timer what I was looking for, the old timer laughed and told me yes, those shanked snaffles were very much useless and more of a West type bit, from CA and those state's type western riding.
    I asked why was that bit then in their tack room and was told the one that tried to use it realized it didn't work "worth beans" and when he left, he left that bit behind.
    That one may still be in the old bit box somewhere around here.
    That was several decades ago.

    Now, I have seen many, many people ride in them, most with horses objecting but still getting done what they are doing.
    So, to each their own, but at least do give all this a bit more thought, the next horses you ride will thank you.
    Good post, Bluey. Your oldtimer was exactly right. There is a good article online about how bad Tom Thumbs are (not to confuse them with the "tom thumb" short-shanked "English"-style pelham)!

    You have to remember that a lot of people who ride with western tack in this country do not really ride western. They really do not ride at all, they just get on a horse and go places. I am not talking about all the people who actually ride western.

    If you think western Tom Thumbs are illogical (and you are right), take a look at some western tack catalogs if you haven't already. To go by some of their bit descriptions, we dressage riders could forget all our hard work influencing the horse with seat and legs and back shoulders, and order one of their western bits that are made to make the horse break at the "pole," lift his shoulder, bend his ribcage, stop raising his head when you pull on the bit, and "get his back end up under him." All that with one bit!
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  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by caradino View Post
    I have always ridden english disciplines, and was taught that a snaffle bit is, generally, any bit without a leverage component with any mouthpiece, and a curb bit is any bit that includes a leverage component, again with any mouthpiece.

    I was speaking to an older gentleman the other day who rides western, and I suggested that his horse may go better in a snaffle as opposed to the long-shanked curb he had him in, since the horse seemed to have a very sensitive mouth and tended to get light up front. (that's a whole 'nother can of worms...) The gentleman said, "Oh but I do ride him in a snaffle! See? A snaffle." and showed me the bit, which was a long-shanked curb with a jointed mouthpiece. His understanding seemed to be that anything with a jointed mouthpiece was a "snaffle" and only bits with straight or ported mouthpieces were curbs, regardless of leverage. He also seemed to think that a straight or ported mouthpiece was more 'severe'.

    I thought this was just a singular misunderstanding, but then I saw the same terminology used in a catalog that sold western tack that I was flipping through this morning.

    Is this a thing?! Do western riders really talk about bits that way?! If so, how is a REAL snaffle differentiated from a "curb with jointed mouthpiece snaffle" ?
    I'll join the crowd and say this is a big pet peeve of mine. Snaffle bit is not a broken mouthpiece, it is direct action. Curb is leverage...

    just had this discussion of a friend who is looking for a "comfort snaffle" for her TWH. Mylar bits are advertised this way....drives me nuts, they should know better..... Schneiders has a whole section called "shanked snaffle".... no such thing!
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  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by goneriding24 View Post
    Well, I'm one of 'those' people who think a jointed mouth is snaffle is a snaffle is a snaffle. Texas Tech University Ranching Heritage Center may still have an old book from the 1800's which says a snaffle is a broken mouthpiece, no matter the shank or lack thereof. A curb is a solid mouth and shanks.
    So what is a solid mouth and no shanks? My answer is it is a snaffle because the shanks mean leverage which is a curb action, no shanks is direct or snaffle action.... mouthpiece is not the defining thing...you seem to agree with this in your statement below...

    and yes, the half breed, spade etc mouthpieces pretty much are curbs but that is becasue there would not be any point in making a mouthpiece for a snaffle bit in that configuration... they are meant to go with a leverage (curb) bit, or one with shanks on it...



    I say RING snaffle to say it's a broken mouth with a RING. Tom Thumb snaffle to say it's a broken mouth with SHANKS.

    So, when you say "It's a Santa Barbara or Halfbreed" you know you're talking about a curb, has shanks.
    yes, relevant part is "has shanks", meaning curb by definition. and the descriptive term is about the mouthpiece.... since curb bits can have many different mouthpieces...incliding broken ones....



    The mouthpiece is the part you're talking about. It describes the bit. A low port, med port or high port bit is....a curb. A spade is....a curb. Works on leverage. A bit, whether broken or straight bar or even slightly curved is a snaffle (direct pull) because you said RING.

    Bluey, have at it... :-)
    again you say works on leverage, this is definition of curb, so yes... And a shanked bit with a jointed mouthpiece works on leverage as well, so it is a curb!

    And you agree that a straight bar can be a snaffle if it has a ring, so why can't a shanked bit with a broken mouthpiece be a curb since it works by leverage?
    Last edited by foggybok; Aug. 7, 2012 at 12:26 AM.
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  18. #38
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    Bits are NOT categorized (snaffle, curb, etc) by the mouthpiece, they are categorized by the primary ACTION they have on the horse's mouth.

    You can have direct pressure on bars/lips (snaffle), leverage (curb- which also acts on chin groove, poll, and sometimes hard palate), or lifting upwards on the lips (gag). They can all have exactly the same mouthpiece and will have completely different actions. If that weren't the case, then not only would a single-jointed "ring" bit be a snaffle, but so would a single-jointed bit with shanks, and a single-jointed 3-ring bit (gag), and a single-jointed pelham, and a single-jointed kimberwicke. And if I lined those all up, would you call them all a snaffle?

    And if a single-jointed bit is a snaffle, then what makes a curb? A straight or mullen mouth? Because that can also be seen in "ring" bits, pelhams, kimberwickes, and gags. In fact, pretty much any mouthpiece style can be seen in each class of bit. And those mouthpieces that are primarily a curb-type (medium or high port) are so because the port doesn't really do much when direct pressure is involved. They are much more functional when you have a curb chain so you can cause the port to rotate in the mouth and push on the hard palate.

    Honestly, in the end its semantics. But I think it ends up hurting the horse because people hear that snaffles are "soft." Based on the definition of snaffle = direct pressure, they are softer than the same mouthpiece on a curb/gag. But when people start using the term snaffle to mean single jointed, and still apply the theory that its soft because all snaffles are soft, the horse loses out because the bit can become quite harsh (relatively, of course) when paired with a harsher class of bit.

    And honestly, I'm not sure where people got the idea that a single-jointed mouthpiece was soft to begin with. I'd much prefer a mullen mouth, french link, or even a straight bar or low port. I like to avoid the nutcracker action.



  19. #39
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    Do any of you know how a snaffle bit came to be called a snaffle? I just looked up the definition of the verb "to snaffle" and this is the definition the Merriam-Webster online dictionary gave:

    transitive verb
    : to obtain especially by devious or irregular means
    I was hoping for a definition that would have something to do with "direct action" or "curbing effect" or something, but what I did see has now made me wonder about the history of the name of the bit. I guess you could stretch "irregular" to mean "indirect" -- but "devious"?
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  20. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by foggybok View Post
    So what is a solid mouth and no shanks? My answer is it is a snaffle because the shanks mean leverage which is a curb action, no shanks is direct or snaffle action.... mouthpiece is not the defining thing...you seem to agree with this in your statement below...

    If there is the word 'ring' in there, it's some sort of direct pull. D-ring snaffle, offset ring snaffle. I do believe mouthpiece is the defining thing.

    and yes, the half breed, spade etc mouthpieces pretty much are curbs but that is becasue there would not be any point in making a mouthpiece for a snaffle bit in that configuration... they are meant to go with a leverage (curb) bit, or one with shanks on it...





    yes, relevant part is "has shanks", meaning curb by definition. and the descriptive term is about the mouthpiece.... since curb bits can have many different mouthpieces...incliding broken ones....





    again you say works on leverage, this is definition of curb, so yes... And a jointed mouthpiece works on leverage as well, so it is a curb!

    Snaffle 'mouthpiece'. Broken.

    And you agree that a straight bar can be a snaffle if it has a ring, so why can't a broken mouthpiece be a curb since it works by leverage?
    Broken mouthpiece = snaffle mouthpiece. I know it gets tiresome but I'm still in the camp the mouthpiece is the descriptive name. As an aside, it sounds awkward when people say (example coming up) a shanked broken mouth bit. Hey, it's a Tom Thumb!! A western rider should know what that is automatically, whether they agree with the bit or not. I don't agree with some of these bits on the market nowadays (talk about a substitute for good horsemanship!) but I sure know what they are (well, 90% of them. It's hard to keep up)

    As I said above, none of this will change anyone's mind. Again, I never heard of this stuff till about 25 years +/- years ago and then it gained steam. When a lot of the Natural Horsemanship stuff started really getting going. Altho, I think CA thinks as I do about bits. I think we're repeating ourselves, I know I am.
    GR24's Musing #18 - More a reminder than a muse, on the first of the month, do your boob check for any lumps or differences.



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