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

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 mouthpiece cannot move or rotate on the rings, like with an eggbutt.

The fixed cheek of the Baucher works similar to any fixed cheek style, giving the mouthpiece more stability and “stillness” than a loose ring, which some horses will find confidence in and prefer to a loose ring.  The fixed cheeks also sit flat against the head and with the extension above, help prevent the bit sliding through the mouth- almost like a full cheek.

Poll pressure?  The thinking is that with the small ring above, the bit rotates as the reins are pulled, and the small ring holding the cheeks moves to apply pressure to the poll.  Maybe, BUT if so, it could only be very, very mild.  Unfortunately, most bit manufacturers still actively promote the Baucher to work through this perceived poll pressure.

If the bit rotates in the mouth as described, the cheeks will apply some resistance to the poll area, but here is a bony structure.  Before the bit can rotate further and apply any significant pressure, I would argue that the lips will stretch and the bit move higher in the mouth first.  You need less force to stretch the lips than press onto the bony structure of the poll with any significant force.  Often though, in action the bit hardly rotates at all.

Is it a Leverage Bit?

Lever action

How a “Lever” works- the length of the spanner allows you to loosen the nut easily and with little force. The Nut is the Pivot Point, and the longer the leaver, the more force can be applied.

There is NO leverage action in a baucher.  I give a detailed explanation of Leverage bits and their action in this month’s guest blog spot for horsenation.com, but essentially in order for a “lever” to come into play, there needs to be a pivot point (the mouthpiece), an extension below the pivot point where the force is applied (shanks and reins) and optionally, an extension above the pivot point (the purchase).

See the difference in the bits in the diagram below?  The the Eggbutt and the Baucher  have NO extension below the pivot point, and the reins have no direct purchase point on the rings and are allowed to slide. The reins will generally slide and sit on level with the mouthpiece.  The Kimblewick, (similar in shape and size to a Baucher), and the Pelham DO have a clear extension below, with the reins fixed below the mouthpiece.  The Kimblewick and the Pelham exerts leverage force, making the rein aids stronger for the horse.

The red is the mouthpiece, which becomes the pivot point for a leverage bit, when there is an extension of the cheekpiece below it.

The red is the mouthpiece, which becomes the pivot point for a leverage bit, when there is an extension of the cheekpiece below it.

The Baucher does not use leverage force, and simply transfers the rein aids in a direct manner, similar in action as an Eggbutt or Loose ring, or Full cheek etc.

Riders and gear checkers should see the Baucher more as a cross between an Eggbutt and a Full cheek, rather than view it as a kind of Kimblewick.  There are a lot of horses and ponies that go particularly well in the Baucher bit, they are happy and comfortable in the still contact, a novice rider will benefit from the stillness as well if their hands are not 100% stable.  There is no more poll pressure applied than if using a Full cheek with keepers, and there is certainly no leverage force.

Should it be allowed as a snaffle?  In my view, yes.  The EA and FEI classify the Baucher as a snaffle bit.  By this definition, as described above it is a direct action bit, as with all other snaffles, with the same amount of pressure in the same direction as the rider’s aids. The Baucher is therefore legal to compete in as snaffle in EA Dressage and showing, as well as jumping and xc phases.  Almost all state Pony Club bodies also permit the Baucher as a snaffle for all events and rallies.

However, in 2010 the NSW PC for some reason decided to rule that the Baucher is not permitted in pony club dressage competitions.  The minutes of the committee meeting unfortunately do not elaborate as to the reasoning why the bit is banned, and I have been unable to find out the reasoning for the ban, apart from a comment from a rider that the committee had deemed the bit to be “harsh”.

Without wanting to rattle any cages too much and get into a debate about “harsh” bits and kind bits, I will simply conclude that in my view, and the view of equestrian Australia, British Dressage, USA Dressage and many, many other international ruling bodies, the Baucher is a snaffle bit, therefore permitted in competition as such.  Why the NSW PC should go against this, is not clear.

(If you are a NSW PC member, and would like to challenge their ruling on this bit, please email me and I will be happy to offer support.  As I am not a member of NSW PC, I am unable to address this issue with the committee personally.) 

(NB: as of 8th October 2013 I have been informed that PC NSW has reversed this ruling, and the Baucher is now PERMITTED where a snaffle is required for PC Dressage competitions!- Anita, edited 8/10/13)

I hope that this post has helped create a better understanding of how the Baucher bit works, and how it does not work.  To view some of the Bauchers in the Bit Bank range, click here.  If you would like more information, or have any specific questions about the Baucher or any other bit, email me at anita@bitbankaustralia.com.au, or post your question on the Facebook page to share with others!  Do you disagree with me?  Post a comment below- I’d love to hear your thoughts!

http://www.bitbankaustralia.com.au/baucher/

Give your pony a kiss from me- I hope they are not all as hairy as mine!

Anita

(with apologies for my dodgy diagrams!)

Advertisements

23 responses to “The truth about the Baucher Snaffle Bit- rattling the cage…

  1. Dear Anita!
    I am the distributor of Myler bits in Scandinavia. And I hear the comment about the Baucher beeing a leverage bit very often. I also see this misunderstanding among professionals in the horse bit world. Thank you for your great explanation and drawings. I hope it is ok to link to this page, when people ask me. We do apreciate the Baucher bit a lot, and we have even designed new combinations of mouth piece and Baucher for the Scandinavian market. Have a great time – down under 😉
    Regards, Pernille Bendix, Little Creek Western Company, Denmark

  2. Reblogged this on EQUINE Ink and commented:
    Frequently on horse forums I see people talk about the poll pressure that’s applied by Baucher bits. It may help the riders to think the bit is applying poll pressure, the baucher is NOT a leverage bit. It’s main benefit is that it sits very quietly in a horse’s mouth. My Trakehner, Kroni, hated bits that moved too much in his mouth 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.
    Remember that the FEI classifies the Baucher as a snaffle bit, which means it applies only direct pressure, not leverage.

  3. I agree and disagree. All bits are leverage when placed inside a horse’s mouth. Snaffle bits exert pressure when the connecting area inside the mouth rises into the roof of the mouth. Clearly it takes small amounts of leverage to make the bit bring pressure. It is not the type or style of bit that matters, it is the person with their hands on the reins. A snaffle can be a very harsh bit in the hands of someone who doesn’t know how to properly use it. The harshest of bits can be comfortably used with soft hands and tiny movement of the reins. The bit you show isn’t harsh, provided it isn’t misused. But, it is a leveraged bit. Your diagram doesn’t reflect the action that takes place inside the mouth when both reins are pulled and the bit flexes into the roof of the mouth, i.e. leverage. If you don’t believe me, place the bit flat on a wooden bench and sit on it. No big deal, now pull the ends together and sit on the pointed part of the bit. Ouch!! . Anything in the mouth feels much larger and harsher than it does to the eye. Bottom line – all bits apply leverage and any bit mishandled can be harsh and abusive. The discussion over what is or is not a leverage bit is symantic argument over what consitutes leverage. We contend leverage is applied pressure using mechanical devices, nothing more and nothing less. The real issue, like most things in life, is not the inanimate object that everyone wants to make the focus of the discussion, but instead the genuine issue that no one wants to address is the lack of experience and training of the user. Just my thoughts.

    • Hi Horsesfortrail,
      When I use the term Leverage i mean it in the scientific explaination of the increase of force through the use of a lever. Yes, using a bit gives you “leverage” in terms of “influence”, but a snaffle in use does not increase the force to what you have in the hand. With leverage bits- pelham, shanked bits, dutch gags- the use of the lever (shank) INCREASES the force felt by the horse to what the rider has in the hand. A lever gives the rider a mechanical advantage, the direct action while applying pressure, yes, does not.

    • My hope for this blog is that it helps riders become more educated about the equipment they are using, why they are using and how it actually works. I agree with you that rider education is the key. 🙂

  4. Just recently bought a new horse that was previously worked in a spanish snaffle with a hump in the middle and i was wondering if this is a good alternative? Thanks

    • Hi Remy, As I discussed in the post above, the two bits are very different- The “spanish snaffle” or more correctly the Kimblewick is a leverage bit, whereas the Baucher is a direct snaffle. You may be better looking for a simple mullen eggbutt snaffle. This would be similar in the unjointed mouthpiece and the fixed cheek, but it will not apply any leverage.

  5. I’ve recently started riding my dressage horse in a Myler Baucher after my instructor recommended it to me. In the past I’ve always ridden him in a plain loose ring snaffle. I do like the baucher but I’m wondering if I need to be using it in a slightly different way to the loose ring if that makes sense. My horse at times feels a bit set in the myler baucher and I find it harder to soften him off in this bit compared to the loose ring. In saying that I seem to be able to keep him straighter in the myler baucher. It’s certainly interesting how they go in different bits. I’d be keen to hear if I should be adjusting my contact using the myler. Sometimes you can get into the circle of he feels strong so I’m going to be strong as well.

    • Hi Jenny, have a read of my blog the Eggbutt Vs the Loose ring- the Baucher being a fixed cheek will give you the stability that you feel, rather than the play with the loose ring. Choose what helps you achieve the most in your training for where you are at now.

  6. Another point of importance with the FB is that it returns to a neutral point in the mouth. It hangs on release where as with many other snaffles there is still some weight resting on the tongue. The fulmer also has this effect (if ridden with a keeper)

  7. Heres my concern. I have a kimberwick (Non uxter) which if not inspected closely could EASILY make someone think its a baucher. If I have one others do as well.

    • Hi Frank,
      Are you referring to the possible confusion between the two from a non thorough gear check leading to the kimberwick being used in dressage competition?

  8. well put and supported, I think a lot about bits and the only thing I see about a boucher is a possible slight gag bit effect if pulled hard enough to rotate the bit in the mouth.

  9. Pingback: Winter Break Training Projects 2017 Edition | Chronicles of a "Mini-Pro"·

  10. I recently purchased a baucher bit with headstall and side pull pulleys, this is a very old peice the bit is nickel. I was wondering if anyone could direct me where I might purchase a new one?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s