Saturday, July 20, 2013

Bit by bit

Horses, history and humour - well, I'm afraid if you're after humour this post probably isn't going to cut it. Horses, and a bit of implied history, yes.


Just seen these ridiculous descriptions on a couple of saddlery sites:

"Filet Bouche

"Filet Baucher

“The Filet Baucher uses pressure on the poll as the cheek piece has an extra ring above the snaffle ring where the bridle cheek pieces are attached to, this poll pressure encourages the horse to lower the head and come on to the bit especially useful for horses that have a high head carriage.”

“Stainless steel. With hollow jointed swivel mouthpiece and Increases poll flexion by adding leverage. Enables to keep horses from putting too much weight on their shoulders”.

Seriously? If I ever meet the person who wrote this rubbish I will hit him with a dictionary and then choke him with a gag snaffle.


The horse world must not only have a short memory, it must also be gullible and totally illiterate.

The Baucher snaffle is named after FRANCOIS BAUCHER, radical dressage exponent, (1796–1873). He was a French riding master who took great pride in his ability to produce a horse quickly. His insistence on training for straightness by “flexing”the forehand and hindquarters sideways, very early in training, sounds extremely forceful. (Disengaging, anybody?)

The Fillis snaffle is named after JAMES FILLIS, Victorian horse trainer (1834-1913) who was an English-born French riding master who trained with Baucher in France, and introduced his methods to England. He taught for 12 years as Ecuyer en chef of the St. Petersburg Cavalry Riding School. He trained horses in a German circus in 1892.

Alois Podhajsky and other dressage masters wrote of these men, but if you can’t get their books, both JAMES FILLIS and FRANCOIS BAUCHER are discussed by Wikipedia.

"Fillis Snaffle £67.60"

“This is an excellent bit for horses who have a dislike for bits in their mouths as the square link is severe--"

Really? Gotta love that logic.

"-- but the action from the cheeks on the poll is very gentle. The horse prefer the gentle poll action to the severity of the mouthpiece This bit offers a nutcracker action combined with pressure being exerted on the poll. The normal pattern has a small cheek, ideal for use with small ponies.”

I would never put anything across MY tongue that had studs projecting under its mouthpiece, let alone the Fillis snaffle they want you to shell out almost 70 quid for. And there is no poll action with a snaffle bit. Not even if you were to write grammatically.


Only cynical marketing hype would make claims that five minutes’ straightforward observation can refute. It’s plainly ignorant to combine the names of two controversial riding masters FILLIS and his mentor BAUCHER, produce the mangled cod-French name of FILET BOUCHE and slap it onto a simple and unpretentious bit.

The hanging cheek snaffle (to give it its accurate description) has NOTHING to do with a cut of beef. Except, perhaps, the expectation that if it bears a pseudo-French name you will spend a lot of money to purchase it.
Look for a simple hanging cheek snaffle, it will set you back £20 at most.


You may have gathered that I've been studying bit design and action--not with a loriner (that's a bit maker) but with my own Fell pony's mouth. Ruby was very patient with her nosey owner and let me take a lot of photos. She only objected to me testing the most severe curb-rein effect of my Liverpool bit - so I only took a couple of pics and then let her off that one.

I've looked at single-jointed snaffle bits and the two curb bits I use for driving. They are both LONG documents so you may prefer to read them separately rather than in this post.


No comments: