I am interested in a butterfly snaffle to transition my horse to trail. What is the active mechanism and what is the suggested rein positioning?
Is the goal to get a horse who neck reins or to put more “stop” into the bit or some other goal? What is the difference you are anticipating between a “trail riding bit” and a snaffle bit? Do you have a “hot” horse or a cool temperament?
I have not personally used a butterfly bit, but from the look of it, it seems fairly straight-forward. It is a two-piece snaffle with a little bit of purchase and shank? You didn’t say if your horse already uses a snaffle bit for some other discipline. If so, and if it is a simple snaffle mouth, this bit should work the same if you placed your reins on the center ring (not the usual position) – no curb chain, no curb pressure, no poll pressure. Placing the reins on the lower rein loop should produce more poll pressure. Adding a curb strap will produce even more poll pressure and more curb pressure.
I would probably recommend a Kimberwick slotted D bit if you want this type of transition: from two-piece snaffle to curb bit. It has a shorter purchase, so curb pressure is minimized in the beginning. The amount can be adjusted by the slot of the D-ring that you choose for attaching the reins and the use of the curb chain or not. Even better: a 3-piece snaffle mouth with this type of bit will further alleviate tongue pressure for a horse who has already mastered the two-piece snaffle.
Unfortunately, there are hundreds of bit configurations – many just “duplicates” of other styles with different brand names – and many are marketing ploys. If you have a trainer you trust, take their advice. If you are doing natural horsemanship training on your own, consider dispensing with the bit altogether and going to a side pull. Unless you want really sophisticated signals, a well-trained trail horse needs very little bit cue to perform.
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