Online Tack and Horse Equipment Guide: Pelham Reins


Pelham bit and bridleThe Pelham is the most popular leverage bit used in hunters and hunt seat equitation competition. It is designed to use two sets of reins along with a curb chain. One rein attaches to the upper ring on the shank, aligning with the corner of the horse’s mouth. It’s appropriately called the snaffle rein because it relays direct rein cues from the rider with minimal support from the curb chain. The lower rein is affixed to the bottom ring on the shank. Referred to as the “curb rein,” it causes the shank of the Pelham to rotate in the horse’s mouth, activating the curb chain.

  • An experienced rider with educated hands adjusts the contact on each set of reins as needed.
  • The snaffle (upper) rein is always wider than the curb (lower) rein. Originally it was made from smooth bridle leather, however, it’s now common practice to use a standard laced or plaited snaffle rein.
  • Regardless of design, the snaffle rein has always buckled in the middle. That allows the rider the option of using a running martingale.
  • Traditionally the curb rein was always sewn together, since it would never be run through the rings of a martingale. Contemporary curb reins frequently have a buckle, though.
  • A Pelham should never be used with only one rein unless it’s with a bit converter. This is a short leather strap that buckles to both the upper and lower bit rings on the shank, forming a half-moon shape. A single snaffle rein is then attached to the bit converter. Though this may simplify the challenge of handling two sets of reins, it does blur the distinctions between the snaffle and leverage actions of the bit.

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