The results are, in some instances, straight forward and in others help to resolve long-standing debates. For example, the action of the Baucher/Hanging Cheek snaffle bit on the poll has been unresolved with a clear division between two schools of thought, the first, that it causes pressure on the poll, and the second, that it alleviates pressure on the poll.
The results of this particular study determined that over a rein tension range of 0-3 kilograms the Baucher exhibited a poll-relief effect and at rein tension beyond this range little more than pre-tension was produced. The Baucher therefore appears to be a cheek, amongst some others, that produces a poll-relief effect - quite the opposite of producing extra poll pressure! (see Figure 1 below).
For all other cheeks the results fell into five categories of intensity. Not all cheeks have a straight-forward effect and therefore the data presented specifies poll pressure produced over the most common rein tension values of 2-4 kilograms seen during normal (flat work) riding.
Measurements were recorded independent of rider or horse ability and therefore the results simply indicate the force placed on the poll in response to forces applied through the reins based on cheek-type. Tests were repeated three times and in some instances in multiple horses to ensure that results consistently fell within a reasonable range of values. As one might expect, horses have varying degrees of elasticity in the mouth as well as other factors that are difficult to control for.
The preliminary data presented in this document will be updated as the study progresses in depth and scope – some cheeks, such as the Eggbutt and Butterfly Pelham are undergoing further testing.
Poll pressure numbers were calculated as percentage of the total forces applied through the reins. A poll pressure index of 1 means that approximately 10% of the total rein forces applied are transferred to the poll. For example, when 4 kilograms of rein tension is used, 400 grams of pressure will be applied to the poll of the horse during that tension.
Note that some amount of poll pressure exists due to the bit hanging on the bridle and therefore, poll-relief means that this “pre-tension” is removed and no additional poll pressure means that all forces applied through the reins are distributed onto the tongue and lips.
Measurements were recorded independent of rider or horse ability. Data were taken from the most common rein tension used (2-4 kgs) for normal riding. There may, in some cases, be a slight poll-relief effect or slight poll pressure effect at rein tensions below 2 kg. however, those are rarely used in real-world settings and don’t necessarily need to be taken into consideration. Note that these values will not be exactly the same in every single horse, however they will fall within the given range.
Levered bit measurements were taken over all rein tension values. Typically, there are very few values above 2 kg. These will be marked **
All bits were tested based on the cheekpiece. The Waterford was tested separately due to its rather unique and distinctive multi-joint design – no effects due to this mouthpiece were found.
Loose ring snaffle bits can apply poll-pressure due to a pulley action caused by the ring dragging down through the bore hole. The slight variations between ring sizes is a subject of Neue Schule’s ongoing research endeavors.