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Bit Keepers for a Full Cheek Snaffle?

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  • Bit Keepers for a Full Cheek Snaffle?

    Are bit keepers necessary for a full cheek snaffle? I'm thinking about switching my standard french link eggbut out for a full cheek with a bean and a figure 8 when out in the field and jumping. Hoping for a tiny bit more responsiveness without going to a bigger bit.

    So what are the purpose of bit keepers? Do you use them?


  • #2
    They add bit stability much like a baucher. Without them the bit is much like a D ring.
    chaque pas est fait ensemble


    • #3
      Whether you need them for "bit effect" is a matter of debate. Some people prefer the bit stability imparted by the bit keepers, others like to ride it "loose" which is basically the same effect as a D ring.

      Personally, I wouldn't ride in a full cheek without keepers. If you don't use them, your horse is now armed with two big pointy sticks that it can accidentally shove through its leg boots/polos/girth/your stirrup/breastplate strap/etc. And I've seen it get ugly and dangerous when that happens.
      Head Geek at The Saddle Geek Blog http://www.thesaddlegeek.com/


      • #4
        Like jn4jenny, I won't ride in a full cheek without bit keepers. As she stated, there are a lot of ugly things that can happen if the bit doesn't have keepers.
        Homeopathy claims water can cure you since it once held medicine. That's like saying you can get sustenance from an empty plate because it once held food.


        • Original Poster

          I was wondering about the ugly stuff that can happen with a full cheek. Although I imagine that some of that ugly stuff can happen even with keepers.

          This may need its own thread, but any suggestions on a slight move up bit from the french link eggbutt? I was going to add the figure 8, but I don't want to move up to too much bit, and the next bit in my small inventory is a 3 ring elevator. Mare is strong and just not as responsive when cantering in the field.



          • #6
            IMO...the 3 ring elevator with two sets of reins - top (snaffle) and bottom ring is where I go!! You ride in a snaffle, educate with the bottom ring...and go back to the snaffle. Reward/punishment effect. I call it a "Snaffle with clout!!"
            I never felt that a full cheek with keepers made "that" much difference. And yes...without keepers (even with them) a full check can become a deadly weapon for your horse!! I had one horse who came to me wearing one and the minute I put the bridle on, he immediately tried to hook me or the closest screw eye and try to rip the bridle off!!!
            Breeders of Painted Thoroughbreds and Uniquely Painted Irish Sport Horses in Northeast Oklahoma


            • #7
              a Dr Bristol is a good step up from a french link. Its even dressage legal, you get a bit more tongue pressure from the plate edges.

              I will always use keepers. Years ago the horse I was riding didn't have them and the arms of the bit caught the laces in my helmet. He jerked his head and me up off the ground. When he lowered his head & me we came untangled he went flying backward. Scared the crap out of both of us!!


              • Original Poster

                Well, I may just go the route of elevator with 2 reins. I used one rein on this same 3 ring elevator as a kid...but it was on a freight train of a horse that was anything but sensitive. I'm pretty sure one rein will not be smart with this horse.

                I'll give it a try sometime this week.

                Also, I do own a Dr. Bristol, but it is currently loaned out. Argh.


                • #9
                  My horse hated the elevator bit I tried when I tried to step up from a snaffle. What's worked for me is:

                  - Mikmar circle shank (there's no nose rope with this, so it's a mild bit with a tiny bit of leverage)
                  - Waterford loose ring
                  - Pelham with two reins (he respects the curb chain a lot so I rarely have to use it).

                  I'm not a huge fan of full cheeks because of the potential issues but I do keep them in my bit box because they are useful. I use keepers when I ride in them.

                  I also ride in a Miklem bridle which I think does a good job of stabilizing the jaw without tying the horse's mouth shut.
                  Equine Ink - My soapbox for equestrian writings & reviews.
                  EquestrianHow2 - Operating instructions for your horse.


                  • #10
                    I don't use keepers when it's on my figure-8 bridle. I've found the cheeks get caught when I use them with a flash, so the keepers go back on.

                    Considering the bottom halfs of the cheeks are "exposed" no matter which configuration you use, you're still at risk whether you have them on or not.
                    Road to the T3D
                    fri [fri:] fritt fria (adj): Free
                    skritt [skrit:] skritten (noun): Walk


                    • #11
                      I ride my dressage tests/flat work in a full cheek and I always have keepers on. Even with them on there is possibility for disaster! My gelding has a horrible habit of rubbing on absolutely EVERYTHING and even though we're working on it, he still gets a quick rub in once and a while. When I first bridled him with the fullcheek, he went to rub and caught the pocket on my sweater, almost took it off! Luckily he has a really good reaction to the "head down" cue, but it was a bit scary.

                      When I'm schooling in the field or jumping (with our running martingale) I switch to a D-ring.
                      All that is gold does not glitter;
                      Not all those who wander are lost.
                      ~J.R.R. Tolkien