Pelham Bits

Introduction to Pelham Horse Bits

pelham horse bit The pelham bit has two-rein capability. It has a large D-ring directly attached to the mouthpiece for a snaffle rein and a curb loop at the bottom of the shank for a curb rein.

pelham horse bitThe snaffle rein is used most often for general riding, lateral turns, and for raising the horse’s head.

When the curb rein is engaged, it magnifies pressure on the chin and  poll,  and it exaggerates pressure on the tongue (nutcracker effect of a two-piece snaffle mouthpiece) . The curb rein is used to refine the stop and teach the horse to lower his head for proper carriage.

It takes a skilled rider to understand the subtleties of when to use which rein (or how to pull the combined rein pictured) and have the coordination to handle them properly.




The Kimberwick is the most popular of the pure pelham bits. The Kimberwick slotted Dee (right) has a similar curb action but only one rein and, so is not a TRUE Pelham-style 2-rein bit.  However, it still combines both lateral direct rein and leveraged curb action. The curb action is minimal to mild because the shanks have short purchase arms and no actual lever arms to speak of. However, it is still a 2-piece snaffle with tongue pressure as well as curb pressure. (note: Kimberwick bits are illegal in dressage and show hunter classes. Due to the addition of curb action, they are commonly seen on ponies or where small riders need more control of strong horses.)

These bits are sometimes used to introduce a horse to curb pressure on his way to a curb bit. The curb “lever” is very short, so it produces mild curb action as opposed to shanked snaffles or “cowboy pelhams” and curb bits with 4″-8″ levers.

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