Types of Gag Bits
- Gag Snaffle: similar in shape to a snaffle, with a mouthpiece and a ring on either side. Each bit ring has two holes: one on the top and one on the bottom. Gag cheekpieces, made of rounded leather or of rope, are run through these holes. The end on these cheekpieces, after passing through both holes, have a metal ring to which the reins are attached. When rein pressure is applied, the bit slides upward and rotates slightly in the mouth. Severity is determined by the ring size: the larger the rings, the more severe the gag. The gag snaffle includes the Balding gag, which has a loose-ring design, and Cheltenham gags which have an eggbutt design. A "gag snaffle" is not a snaffle bit, although it can be adjusted to act like one if the rider only attaches a rein to the bit rings and not to the sliding gag cheekpieces.
- Dutch/Continental/Three-Ring/Four-ring/Pessoa gag: Similar to the elevator, except the cheekpieces consist of stacked rings. There is usually only one ring above the mouthpiece, to which the cheekpiece is attached. The ring below that is attached straight to the mouthpiece, and acts similarly to a snaffle. The lower ring(s), of which there are usually two, are for a second rein to be attached, and they provide the gag action. The lower the second rein is placed on the stack, the more "leverage" (raising of the mouthpiece up along the cheekpiece) is applied. Dutch gags are useful because they provide options for the severity of the bit. The bridle cheek pieces are attached to the top rings to produce pressure.the lower the reins are fitted, the stronger the leverage action on the horses mouth.
- American Gag/Elevator: has the shape of an "H". It has one ring on the upper shank, to attach the cheekpiece of the bridle. There is a lower shank, for the gag rein, and a middle loop to which it is possible to attach a snaffle rein. The mouthpiece has the ability to slide up the curved sides of the bit as the reins are taken up, putting pressure on the corners of the mouth and encouraging the horse to raise his head. Unlike the Dutch gag, the American gag does not offer options for the height the reins may be attached. The American Gag bit applies pressure to the poll of a horse's head, to gain greater control of the horse. Using this bit for greater control should only be used as a last resort.
- Half-ring/Duncan gag: a particularly severe type of gag. Similar to the snaffle gag, except it has a half ring. The ring ends have holes, through which the cheekpieces run. Unlike the snaffle gag, however, there is no connection between these two holes to the outside of the bit, so only the gag rein can be used (if two were used, the snaffle rein would have to attach to the rounded cheekpieces).
Read more about this topic: Gag Bit
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