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Snaffle vs. Double Bridle

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  • Snaffle vs. Double Bridle

    I've ridden lots of different horses, some who go better in either a double or a snaffle. For example, one PSG/I-1 schoolmaster I rode was much more correct in his contact in a snaffle than in the double. On the contrary, my horse is MUCH easier to ride in the double.

    My horse had some previously very bad rides (crank and spank school of training) and is now almost impossible to ride in a snaffle. He just has a very numb mouth. But because I don't want to ride in the double all of the time, I've been riding in a snaffle with a draw rein - warming up with the draw rein and then taking it off. This seems to be working on softening him up (and making him respect the snaffle more so) but purely out of curiosity.... are there some upper level horses that (I don't want to say can't...) are just too difficult to ride in the snaffle?

  • #2
    Snaffle and curb have totally different actions/useages. So it is important to reeducate the mouth so that the effect of each bit are specific. If the horse is problematic to staying up and open, restart with ground work in hand before riding imho.
    I.D.E.A. yoda

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      My horse is quite correct in the double.

      When I ask for lateral flexion, I ask for it with the snaffle, and he responds appropriately. While the curb is used when we're doing the collected work.

      He's completely different in the snaffle and the double. Even if I have zero contact on the crub (just hold it with my pinky) and ride completely off the bridoon (snaffle) he's so much better than in just a plain snaffle.
      It's as if he respects having the weight of two bits in his mouth more than just one.

      Comment


      • #4
        Sounds t me as though YOUR horse was introduced to and brought along properly to the double and already had good basics in the snaffle!! Well done!
        "Success comes in cans, not in cannots!"

        Comment


        • #5
          Because it is rarely a perfect world, I sent you a pm with my experience. Good luck.

          Comment


          • #6
            Well this is not reeaally in context, but I ride a 6 yr old who's been under saddle 18mos now, and she came back from the trainer in October after a year of $1700/month in fees (board+training) essentially dangerous to ride (Local BNR/T). Great. That's another story though, and she Did go there basically impossible to get on, so improvement at least.

            Anyhow anywho, this is a 1600lb well bred (powerful) holsteiner mare who would very much like to have her head in the clouds. Riding with a snaffle, I basically am tits up in the mushrooms if a mouse farts in the corner of the arena. If she's in the double, I am very much able to maintain the round and bend and save my own butt by keeping the situation much more under control. Now this is all getting MUCH better, but man am I happy to have my curb rein when things get sticky. We are going to do the jumpers, but are currently schooling pirouettes, renvers, travers, side pass, half pass, collection, extension, halt canter etc and I honestly don't know if she'll ever go nicely (consistently) in a snaffle. She is the epitome of 'difficult' and complicated, as I imagine a fair amount of top level horses are.

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            • #7
              Ummmmmmm, I'm just speechless.
              Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
              Now apparently completely invisible!

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              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by CaliZ View Post
                Well this is not reeaally in context, but I ride a 6 yr old who's been under saddle 18mos now, and she came back from the trainer in October after a year of $1700/month in fees (board+training) essentially dangerous to ride (Local BNR/T). Great. That's another story though, and she Did go there basically impossible to get on, so improvement at least.

                Anyhow anywho, this is a 1600lb well bred (powerful) holsteiner mare who would very much like to have her head in the clouds. Riding with a snaffle, I basically am tits up in the mushrooms if a mouse farts in the corner of the arena. If she's in the double, I am very much able to maintain the round and bend and save my own butt by keeping the situation much more under control. Now this is all getting MUCH better, but man am I happy to have my curb rein when things get sticky. We are going to do the jumpers, but are currently schooling pirouettes, renvers, travers, side pass, half pass, collection, extension, halt canter etc and I honestly don't know if she'll ever go nicely (consistently) in a snaffle. She is the epitome of 'difficult' and complicated, as I imagine a fair amount of top level horses are.
                I feel your pain. It's difficult to correctly school young horses, let alone young horses who have been "ruined" and essentially need rehab.
                I very much believe in the classical training methods, but like you said - I am tits up in the mushrooms with my horse in a snaffle haha. He's a tank, and although we're working towards eventually being able to have a harmonious ride in the snaffle.. it's difficult. I also had a lot of mental issues to work through. Instead of firing up, mine would just shut off. It was like a defensive technique. Now he feels SOOOO much better, but still, it's not perfect.

                If only it was a perfect world, eh?

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Tiki View Post
                  Ummmmmmm, I'm just speechless.
                  About what?
                  Share your input. Being vague doesn't help anyone.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Egads, I am in awe that so many folks think the horse is behaving better because of the bit or bits. Rethink the impact of the bit and/or bits you are using....that is the reason.
                    www.hartetoharte.org
                    Ask and allow, do not demand and force.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Eh, I love a double bridle - two bits are better than one, haha. I think it's interesting the attitudes people sometimes have on one side or the other of this debate. I find it funny that it's even a "debate" honestly = )

                      ALL horses are different. Maybe in an ideal world, every horse would be able to school his GP tests in a snaffle with perfect contact and impossibly light aids.

                      I can understand the argument that a curb is not a good bit considering what kind of contact is aimed for in dressage. I can also understand the argument that a well schooled dressage horse should be able to work correctly in a curb because that's what's required. I personally like the refined communication you can achieve in a double bridle, and I think they are usually very appropriate for upper level work.

                      I have no qualms with people sparingly using a curb for a bit for added control, just like I think "gadgets" like a martingale (or perhaps even draw reins) also have their place in training despite some of the hard core anti-gadget folks. Even the most talented pro using the "ideal" dressage methods can still run into issues with a very difficult or spoiled horse. Obviously you try to discover the root of the problem and go back to that point and fix it, but gadgets can sometimes be useful in the retraining process (though, obviously, sprithorse, that doesn't mean their behavior has been "fixed.")

                      Horses are individuals and sometimes you have to stray from the straight and narrow to get things to work. I'm sure even the revered old dead guys could share some experiences on that front = )

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A curb is not for added control, it is for finesse of balance/bend etc.
                        I.D.E.A. yoda

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          let me ask though, if the horse is properly trained, and respond well to his/her rider, why would the rider need double bridle for balance and bend?
                          I always wonder, because if you have a good relationship with your horse, dont you think the pair can do higher level of dressage without two bits ?

                          i have seen some riders in the higher dressage or even jumpers (because we all do work on balance and bend no matter what discipline we show in) who could get really nice bending from their horse just with a snaffle and never used a double bridle.

                          my question is, if some people can teach without double bridle, why not everybody is doing the same? what is so great about double bridle that someone could miss out if for example, double bridle would not exist ?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Sorry..but I think too many people use a double as a crutch or easy way out. I've seen too many people put one on because they "can't get the horse round" in a snaffle.

                            My rehab gelding was tossed into a double too soon IMO. So we are going back to basics in a snaffle. He must learn to stretch and reach for the bit and carry himself before I would ever consider him ready for a double bridle. (FWIW he's probably about 1350 pounds if not a little more)

                            I use a Herm Sprenger Duo snaffle bit on him and it was made all the difference in the world. He still gets very defensive when you take up the reins..shortens his neck and throws his head (teeth, etc have all been checked/done) So we spend alot of time with stretching, bending.

                            He was a chiropratic mess when I got him....now he is maintaining as he is using his back correctly instead of being jammed in a double to "create the round frame".

                            I'm not referring to any post on this thread..but I think too many people go to the double as a quick fix/too fast. I had one trainer tell me "You need to put the double back on him" about a year ago (he had only been back undersaddle after a suspensory injury for 3 months) because he wasn't "staying round" No thank you. He has to learn how to use himself in a snaffle first.

                            We do hill work, gymnastic work, long and low stretching days...and we might spend a little time collecting 30 minutes per week.

                            I think the double has it's place and I own two of them...but won't go there until work can be achieved through fourth level and possibly PSG in a snaffle.

                            Just my two cents.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Pixie0304 View Post
                              let me ask though, if the horse is properly trained, and respond well to his/her rider, why would the rider need double bridle for balance and bend?
                              I always wonder, because if you have a good relationship with your horse, dont you think the pair can do higher level of dressage without two bits ?
                              It's about "taking it to the next level." And actually, if you look at some old old old pictures, it was taken to a level beyond, with a horse going in only a curb. This demonstrating how clearly the horse understood the aides of the leg and seat... the bridle was pretty much superfluous.
                              If we have to nail on talent, it's not talent.
                              Founder, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I'm convinced it mostly tradition. Like shadbellies and top hats. With Saddlebreds we used full bridles and it was no big deal. Didn't use the curb much anyway. If riders are depending on the curb for control there is definately holes in training. As ideayoda said it's more for finesse and not really necessary.
                                Groom to trainer: "Where's the glamour? You promised me glamour!"

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