Hunter Bit Decision


Of course you should always ride your horse in the bit that lets him perform at his best. And you must be in control of your horse for that to happen. But while pelhams are common in equitation and medal classes where precision and boldness are rewarded, many judges believe that a show hunter, especially one ridden by a child or an amateur, should be able to jump his course in a snaffle. A snaffle gives the impression that a hunter has a soft mouth and a compliant disposition. True, it may all be an illusion, as the actual mouthpiece of a snaffle bit can range from soft rubber to double twisted wire. Yet in a division where manners are emphasized, the appearance of a kindly nature is important. So whenever possible, reach for some sort of snaffle when tacking up your hunter.

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Cindy Hale’s life with horses has been filled with variety. As a child she rode western and learned to barrel race. Then she worked as a groom for a show barn, and was taught to harness and drive Welsh ponies. But once she’d taken her first lessons aboard American Saddlebreds she was hooked on English riding. Hunters and hunt seat equitation came next, and she spent decades competing in those divisions on the West Coast. Always seeking to improve her horsemanship, she rode in clinics conducted by world-class riders like George Morris, Kathy Kusner and Anne Kursinski. During that time, her family began raising Thoroughbred and warmblood sport horses, and Cindy experienced the thrills and challenges of training and showing the homebred greenies. Now retired from active competition, she’s a popular judge at local and county-rated open and hunter/jumper shows. She rides recreationally both English and western. Her Paint gelding, Wally, lives at home with her and her non-horsey husband, Ron.


  1. I ride my Appendix QH in a French link D ring and I ride my Thoroughbred in a French Link D with copper rollers. These are both versatile bits but they are appropriate for most events.


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