Eggbutt snaffle or loose ring: what’s the difference?

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  • Snaffles are the most widely used bits on the market, but what is the difference between a loose ring and an eggbutt and which horses do they suit best?

    Eggbutt snaffles

    How does an eggbutt snaffle work?

    “The traditional eggbutt snaffle tends to have a straight-arm, single-jointed mouthpiece and is designed to give stability for the horse to stretch forwards and down,” explains Gail Johnson from Horse Bit Hire. “The mouthpiece is designed to act on the outer edges of the tongue with a squeezing action and provide control.”

    With a mullen mouth eggbutt, both the mouthpiece and the cheek are designed to encourage the horse to stretch forwards into the contact.

    “However, there can then be issues with leaning and reduced control,” advises Gail. “An exception to this is the Myler mullen eggbutt which has the added advantage of independent side action due to the central barrel, meaning the rider can lift each side creating less of a rigid shape for the horse to fix onto.”

    What type of horse would benefit from an eggbutt snaffle?

    “An eggbutt cheek is often a good choice for a sensitive horse that needs the stability it provides to encourage him to confidently stretch into the bit,” Gail says. “Eggbutt cheeks are also a great choice for horses with lips that protrude from the face, as you can get a good snug fit without the risk of rubbing.” Grand prix dressage rider Stef Eardley adds: “The eggbutt can be easier to steer with than a loose-ring as the fixed bar action on the sides of the mouth are more precise.”

    Where to buy an eggbutt snaffle

    Shires Hollow Mouth Eggbutt Snaffle

    Shires Hollow Mouth Eggbutt

    Sizes: 4½–6in | RRP: £21.99 |

    The mouthpiece on this bit is fairly thick and being hollow, it is very lightweight.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk, viovet.co.uk, equus.co.uk or rideawaystore.com

    Shires Flat Ring Jointed Eggbutt Snaffle

    Shires Flat Ring Jointed Eggbutt

    Sizes: 3½–6in | RRP: £23.99 |

    With a thinner mouthpiece, this bit can be a little stronger, but it may be a more comfortable option for a horse with a small mouth.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk, viovet.co.uk, equus.co.uk or rideawaystore.com

    Loose-ring snaffles

    Loose-ring snaffle

    How does a loose-ring snaffle work?

    “The loose-ring is widely seen as the most popular cheek across all brands and designs,” says Gail. “It has more movement than an eggbutt as the mouthpiece isn’t fixed meaning there isn’t a fixed pressure on the tongue. The loose-ring is available in a variety of different diameters; the largest has the least chance of pulling through the mouth and is often used in racing, and the smallest have traditionally been used as the bradoon part of a double bridle.”

    Due to the ring being able to slide through the mouthpiece, the rider’s rein aid is not as direct as the eggbutt. This can also mean that there is more movement in the mouth, which can be distracting or uncomfortable for certain horses. Correct fitting of loose-rings is important to ensure the rings don’t pinch the side of the horse’s cheek.

    What type of horse would benefit from a loose-ring snaffle?

    This bit would best suit horses who are established being ridden into the contact and aren’t fussy in the mouth. “A loose-ring can suit a stronger horse as it gives more control than a fixed eggbutt,” says Gail. “It is also more suitable for a horse that may fix or lean onto a fixed ring.”

    Where to buy a loose-ring snaffle

    Shires Hollow Mouth Loose Ring Snaffle

    Shires Hollow Mouth Loose Ring

    Sizes: 3½–6in | RRP: £15.50 |

    This hollow mouth bit is much lighter than a typical solid one.

    In the UK? View now at amazon.co.uk, viovet.co.uk, equus.co.uk or rideawaystore.com

    Shires French Link Loose Ring

    Shires French Link Loose Ring

    Sizes: 4½–5½in | RRP: £18.99 |

    This snaffle has a traditional flat French link mouthpiece.

    In the UK? View now at viovet.co.uk, equus.co.uk or rideawaystore.com

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