National Finals Rodeo qualifier and multiple pro rodeo champion Dona Kay Rule’s go-to bit is a simple D-ring snaffle with a smooth mouthpiece and Don Dodge cheek.

Using the Bit

“I like a D-ring over an O-ring for a horse that’s started and has some saddle time, because you get more of a pull on the corner of the mouth and you get a direct pull straight back—it doesn’t allow that little bit of slide you get with an O-ring. [With a D-ring], if you’re going to do a lateral move, only one part of the snaffle will bend and give a clear message to the left or right. You can also tap them with your hands and tuck their chin and release with a snaffle.”

Mouthpiece: Two-Piece Smooth

“[A smooth mouthpiece] tells me where I’m at. If it’s enough, then I never change from it. If it’s not enough and they’re pulling on me, then either A) I haven’t done my job; or b) I need to go to a twisted to get more attention. Typically, I haven’t done my job well enough in communicating clearly. I would stay with this for a little longer if I was having trouble, maybe a 10-day span, before I moved on to anything else.”

D-ring snaffle
Dona Kay Rule’s go-to D-ring snaffle. Photo by Blanche Schaefer

Curb: Any Kind of Strap or String

“The curb can be a basic piece of string or leather on a snaffle—a snaffle is anything without a shank or leverage. If you got in a jam and had to really drag one’s head around if they’re bucking or running off with you, [a strap makes sure the] bit won’t slide all the way through their mouth. that is the only function of a curb strap on a plain O-ring or D-ring snaffle.”

This article was originally published in the September 2019 issue of Barrel Horse News.


Blanche Schaefer is an avid barrel racer and managing editor of Barrel Horse News. Email comments or questions to [email protected]

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