February 16, 2021

Fixed Ring VS. Loose Ring Snaffle Cheekpieces

By Anya Neilson
Fixed Ring VS. Loose Ring Snaffle Cheekpieces

Do cheekpieces on bits matter? Yes! Today, we'll look at the function of the loose ring snaffle cheekpiece versus the fixed ring snaffle cheekpiece and the impact that they have on the rider's rein aids, and on the horse.

Loose Ring Snaffle Cheekpieces

Loose ring snaffles operate on transmitting direct pressure via the rein aids onto the horses' tongue and lower jaw without any leverage action occurring at the neck. The mouthpiece also moves freely around the side piece rings. The movement makes it more difficult for the horse to lean on the bit, and it is more sensitive to the rider's hands, while encouraging a relaxed jaw and mobile tongue for the horse. A loose ring bit will "warn" the horse before a corrective rein aid is made due to the nature of the free movement of the mouthpiece. The loose rings are able to swivel freely in a lateral direction, allowing for clear transmission of direct rein aids, which is particularly useful with young horses. Loose ring snaffles are appropriate for all disciplines and educational levels.

Fixed Ring Snaffle Cheekpieces

This includes all bits with fixed ring like an Eggbutt, Dee ring bits, Full Cheek or Hanging Cheek (Baucher). The mouthpiece is attached to a fixed, non-moving cheekpiece, and the bit action works in the same manner of the loose ring snaffle: by transmitting direct pressure via the rein aids onto the horses' tongue and lower jaw without any leverage action occurring at the neck. The bit stays centred in the horses' mouth and stays relatively stable in the horses' mouth, and while there is lateral pressure, there is no lateral movement of the bit. The bit stays "quiet" in the horse's mouth, limiting the amount of "warning" before a rein aid is used. Fixed ring snaffle cheekpieces are suggested for horses with sensitive mouth corners, and for horses who like to play with the bit. When the bit is pulled laterally through the mouth, there is some resistance on the opposite side, which can help encourage the horse to turn with less danger of pulling the bit through the mouth than exists with a loose ring snaffle.