WHEN you think of show horses, you usually imagine them going in a double bridle or eggbutt snaffle. But the Wilki snaffle — as used on Royal International champion and HOYS reserve Trevaylor Tiger Lily — is common in pony showing. We find out why

What is it?

THE Wilki snaffle has a plain, jointed mouthpiece, like a normal eggbutt snaffle, but it also has fixed loops on the snaffle ring for attaching the reins and cheekpieces.

It has been around for more than 20 years, and was designed by Peter Wilkinson of Fylde Saddlery to solve a specific problem.

“A lady brought me a lead-rein pony that poked its nose, to see if I could find a solution,” says Peter. “I watched the child ride and, as with many very small kids, she struggled to keep her hands still — particularly when she rose to the trot.

“This bit was designed along the lines of a hanging cheek snaffle, so any pressure from the child’s hands was turned into poll pressure on the pony rather than bringing in the nutcracker action of a plain snaffle.”

Who uses it?

KATIE Carter, who produces Tiger Lily, is one of many professionals for whom the bit has a permanent place in the tackroom — but she doesn’t always use it on this particular pony.

“Tiger Lily wore the Wilki snaffle to win at the Royal International and HOYS, but in between times she was ridden in a plain snaffle,” explains Katie. “It certainly isn’t a short-cut to proper riding, but younger children don’t have the knowledge to ride a pony from leg to hand and they don’t always feel whether a pony is going correctly.

“The Wilki does give them a little more say in the matter. My four-year-old daughter will ride her pony in this bit next year to give her a bit more control.”

Do any other disciplines favour the bit?

NOT really — it’s mainly the preserve of the showing community.

Where do I get one?

A Wilki snaffle costs from £28. Contact (tel: 01995 670332) www.fyldesaddlery.co.uk

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (7 December, ’06)