<The simple jointed eggbutt or loose-ring snaffle has been largely superseded in showing circles by more sophisticated alternatives. The "Wilkie" snaffle, designed by Peter Wilkinson of Flyde saddlery is one bit that is proving popular, especially in lead-rein and first ridden classes.\r\n\r\nThe suitability of this bit, where the cheekpieces and reins are attached to half-moon sections at the top and bottom of the bit ring, has been endlessly discussed. The bit appears to have an action similar to a gag, but its designer emphatically denies this is the case.\r\n\r\n"It exerts leverage on the poll, which helps a small child bring the pony's head in, so it is completely opposite to a gag which raises the head," maintains Peter. "People think that an ordinary snaffle is a mild bit but, in bad hands, it is far from mild.\r\n\r\n"Many children cannot keep their hands still in rising trot, so at each stride, the pony gets jabbed in the mouth, pinched and nipped by the snaffle. My bit acts on the poll first when the reins are pulled, providing a safety margin of around 2cms before there is any action on the pony's mouth.\r\n\r\n"When jumping my bit enables the child to bring the pony's head down so it can measure its stride well before the fence and, if the child gets left behind, the pony's mouth doesn't suffer.\r\n\r\n"I consider it is one of the mildest bits you can get and, far from being a short-cut, it prevents children from spoiling ponies' mouths."\r\n\r\nPeter, who also designed the "magic" bit, has plenty of first-hand experience on which to call. He rode as a child and has been involved with show ponies for more than 30 years with his children and grandchildren. He is also a respected BSPS and Ponies (UK) judge of show ponies.