Twisted Wire Bits

twisted wire snaffle bit

Generally speaking, twisted wire bits require a horse with more training and experience and a rider with a softer, more experienced touch. While fat, thick mouthpieces spread the bit pressure over a larger area, twisted wire bits concentrate pressure, making it more intense in a smaller area of the mouth.

A wire snaffle is rarely used as an every-day bit. They are frequently used to “polish” or “sensitize” a horse.

Everyone gets lax and stale when they have learned and practiced an exercise over and over. Horses begin to “lay down on the job” sometimes. When you find that your horse is not responding as quickly as you like, you may need to go to a bit whose function is to remind him quickly and decisively what his job is when the cues are given (“sensitize” him). ie: You may change from a smooth snaffle to a wire snaffle to add more bite to the bit with less rein pressure. He will soon learn (surprisingly) that his bit still has authority, and he needs to quicken his response before he is handled by the reins. The reminder will keep him fresh when he goes back to his regular smooth mouthpiece.

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That being said, some experienced trainers will start with a twisted wire snaffle to teach a young horse to respond quickly with a minimum of pressure. Communication is clean and response is fast. Then the horse can go to a smooth snaffle and remain very responsive and “light”.

Be very certain that the hands behind a twisted wire snaffle are very light and well educated, as it can be a very aggressive bit if used by a heavy-handed or inexperienced rider.

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2 thoughts on “Twisted Wire Bits

  1. I just recently bought a horse that they have used nothing but a twisted wire snaffle. I have been riding for years and have always used smooth snaffles on all the horses i have ridden, with no problems(or I have been lucky). The horse in question though has become unresponsive to or gets agitated to any pressure from the bit, so i was wondering if going to a less aggressive bit would be better.

    1. Perhaps his becoming “unresponsive” is the key. This bit, like other harsh bits, is frequently used INSTEAD OF patient training or when other bits have damaged his mouth beyond recovery, and he has only small areas of sensation left. If he was handled or trained by someone who skipped through the steps of giving him a solid understanding of stopping when requested or turning with a supple body, the bit was the go-to piece of equipment. After “unresponsive” comes a painful bit cue, which causes the agitation.

      I can’t imagine the “average” horse with the “average” rider ever using a twisted wire snaffle bit. It is very aggressive, putting all of its corrective power into a sliver-thin pressure area in the mouth. It can be used for a very short time to sensitize a horse to the bit if he has become lazy with his response to it. It might be used by an EXPERT trainer to start a horse. It’s pin-point accuracy and small pressure area in the mouth can sensitize a horse to respond quickly without causing fat-bit pressure all over the mouth or having his bars deadened by constant dragging.

      Unless the horse has a damaged, dead mouth from abuse with other bits, there is no other time I can think of to use it on an everyday basis – especially if you are not experienced with it.

      Replace it with a nice, smooth, double-jointed snaffle. Or even take the bit off altogether and go to a bosal or side-pull. If he is well-trained, there will be no trouble. However, if the bit was a substitute for training (often the case) you will find his problem areas soon enough.

      You may have to go back to the beginning with more ground training to get to know his strengths and weaknesses as you bond with him. Then change the bit out.

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