The truth about the Baucher Snaffle Bit- rattling the cage…


Frequently on horse forums I see people talk about the poll pressure that’s applied by Baucher bits. It makes me shake my head because the Baucher is a snaffle bit, as defined by the FEI — by definition that is a bit that applies only direct pressure to the rein.

This posting from Bitbankaustralia does an excellent job of explaining the Baucher and how it functions.

In my opinion, calling the Baucher a leverage bit make work as a placebo. If the rider thinks the bit is stronger than it is (by applying poll pressure), then it helps them ride better because they are more relaxed. However, the baucher is NOT a leverage bit. It’s main benefit is that it sits very quietly in a horse’s mouth because of the way it is suspended from the cheek pieces. Many horses appreciate the reduced “noise” of the bit; they prefer a bit that moves very little.

My Trakehner, Kroni, hated bits that moved too much in his mouth — a loose ring snaffle, no matter how gentle the mouthpiece was torture to him — so I rode him in a Baucher much of the time. If I didn’t believe the mechanics of the bit, I would need to trust my horse. Kroni hated poll pressure of any kind — when I tried him in a Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle he started to rear (that bitless set up exerts poll pressure when you pull on the reins), so I know he wasn’t experiencing any poll pressure with the Baucher.

The Baucher is a very useful bit to have in you bit box, but does not work in the same way as an elevator or a pelham.

bitbankaustralia

The Baucher is one snaffle bit that certainly gets a lot of discussion amongst riders, on forums, at gear checks and I feel is one very misunderstood horse bit!  The questions always are- does the baucher bit apply poll pressure or not, is it a leverage bit and should it be permitted to use as a snaffle in competition?

So here are my thoughts on the Baucher.

Myler bit with baucher cheeks A Myler MB02 snaffle bit with Baucher Cheeks

The Baucher (boo- SHAY,  BOW-sher, BOW-cher; there are a number of ways people pronounce it) bit can also be known as the “hanging cheek” snaffle.  It is sometimes put on upside down in error, to look like a half spoon bit.  Correctly used, the small ring is used to attach the bridle cheeks to, and the larger ring for the reins. The bit is, in its simplest form, a fixed cheek snaffle, meaning that the…

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4 thoughts on “The truth about the Baucher Snaffle Bit- rattling the cage…

    1. Liz Goldsmith

      Bitting is part science, part art. Different bits act on different parts of the horse’s mouth — the tongue, the bars, the lips — and with a true leverage bit, you also get pressure in the chin groove and the poll. A lot of horses are pretty simple when it comes to bitting and go fine in whatever you have on hand. When you run into the picky ones, you start to have to learn about how each bit works and why one will work better than another. Lots of people say that it’s all about the rider’s hands, but that’s not entirely true. Bad hands can make a mild bit more severe, but if you are riding a horse that needs more room for it’s tongue in a bit that doesn’t give any, he’s not going to like it no matter how good your hands are. Ask me how I know that :)!

  1. I appreciate your comments on bitless bridles and poll pressure- Compressing the superficial cranial nerves against the skull is anything but mild, and can cause permanent nerve damage. I grew up calling the things ‘war-bridles’ and they were used to subdue unruly horses. A lot of them ended up with partially paralyzed lop ears and droopy lips . Bitless bridlers beware: If your horse is stopping, shaking his head or rearing, he is in pain regardless of whether or not there is anything in his mouth.

    1. Liz Goldsmith

      Unfortunately, people believe the marketing literature which states that bitless bridles are more humane, gentler, etc. But they don’t take the time to understand how they work. My Trakehner made me learn a lot about bitting because he came to me with some physical and mental quirks. Ultimately, I ended up riding him in a simple sidepull design and he was completely agreeable. I even hunted him in that set up. I most certainly couldn’t do that with Freedom (he thinks riding in a side pull is great fun and completely ignores it) but for the right horse, that’s how they like you to “talk” to them.

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