What is a Waterford?

The Waterford snaffle looks like a line of ball-and-chain link. It usually comes with plain loose snaffle rings although you can also buy Waterfords with full cheeks or gag-type rings.

It is a flexible bit that moulds round the horse’s mouth, creating an even pressure. It is moveable in all directions and horses find it difficult to lean or take hold of it, giving the rider good levels of control.

Martyn Welsh, bitting expert at Equiport, adds: “Strong horses seem to accept the Waterford rather than a Pelham or curb-type bit as its action is broken when the horse goes to set its jaw. The bit is very loose in the horse’s mouth so they seem to mouth more with this bit.”

Who uses it?

Fiona Jonason, who is based with leading eventer Polly Stockton in Cheshire, is currently using a Waterford on her advanced ride Zinzan Tiger. Fiona initially rode Zinzan Tiger in a Waterford when he was a seven-year-old, before switching to a snaffle with a lozenge last year, but has now returned to using a Waterford.

“I did ride Zinzan Tiger in the Waterford last year, but only for schooling at home, as he can get quite strong,” explains Fiona. “Through the winter, I’ve been riding him in a Waterford and because he’s been jumping so well in it, I decided to leave it in for competition.

“The Waterford suits him because he’s prone to cocking his jaw, but this bit stops him latching on to it.”

Anyone else?

Other riders who have been spotted using a Waterford include show jumpers Liz Edgar and Nick Skelton.

Where can I buy one?

At any leading saddlers — prices start from as low as £12. Equiport has a range of Waterfords and they cost from £55-£90. Contact (tel: 01606 351685) www.equiport.co.uk

  • This feature was first published in Horse & Hound (5 April, ’06)