The purpose of a gag bit is to enhance the upward, lifting action of the snaffle bit, so as to afford greater control, especially with a horse that may be inclined to bear downwards on the bit. It is a bit that is primarily seen in the more extreme equestrian sports, such as eventing and polo, where it is critical to maintain control of the horse in fast, high-energy situations.

The basic mechanics of a gag bit rely on an over-cheek rein that typically passes from a headstall downward through holes in the snaffle rings of the bit and onward to the rider’s hand. The over-cheek rein slides freely through the bit, giving the rider quite a bit of leverage. This leverage acts primarily upwards towards the corners of the lips, helping to elevate the head, though pressure is also exerted on the poll in a downward direction, keeping the head in a strong clamp between mouth and poll.

Eggbutt Gag or Cheltenham

An eggbutt or Cheltenham gag looks like a regular eggbutt snaffle, except that holes are bored into the top and bottom of the cheeks, allowing a rein to pass vertically through the rings. This type of bit combines the strong […]

Hitchcock Gag

A Hitchcock gag uses a slightly different mechanism than the more typical eggbutt gag. In this case the bit itself looks basically like a Boucher snaffle. However, pulley rings that attach to the bit and to the headstall make it […]