What's the difference? - Jointed v french link?


Active Member
May 7, 2004
West Yorkshire
Could someone please explain to me the difference between a jointed snaffle and a french link snaffle? What's the purpose of both? What do horses prefer?

(Just curious, I need to consider my choice of bit).


Gracie's mum
Jul 31, 2005
A French link has a lozenge in the middle which the bars fasten to so it is a softer bit than the nutcracker action of the normal snaffle.

J x

PS I am sure other more knowledgeable peeps will go into more detail, but a FL is softer on the mouth than a "normal" jointed.


The snaffle is one of the families of bits, and A jointed snaffle is just what it says - two pieces of metal joined by a 'joint' in the middle, which acts on the lips and corners of the mouth, the tongue, and the bars of the mouth. It has a 'nutcracker' action which some horses find objectionable, but as with all bits, it is only as kind as the hands of the rider.

A gentler option, which still works in the same way minus the nutcracker action, is a french link, or double-jointed snaffle. It has a rounded central plate which lies flat across the tongue. The action of the bit works in the same way as the single-jointed snaffle, but minus the painful nutcracker option. It's a useful bit for horse's with big tongues or narrow mouths, but personally I find horses prefer the french link to a single joint. Don't confuse a french link with a Dr Bristol, which has a squared-off plate in the middle, which is set on at an angle to press into the tongue!

Personally, I would choose a french link over a jointed snaffle any day, as the french link is just about the mildest bit you can buy. Having said that, any bit is only as gentle and effective as the rider's hands - I'd rather see a horse go sweetly in a double bridle with a rider with soft, light hands (like my two horses do) than to see someone sawing away on a horse with a french link snaffle!


Well-Known Member
Jul 12, 2004
A French link has a lozenge in the middle which the bars fasten to so it is a softer bit than the nutcracker action of the normal snaffle.
i cant agree with that, sorry. :rolleyes: For example, Paddy went terribly horrible in one (we thought it was a softer bit and it would be kinder) but he fought against it. :rolleyes: typical male ;) we put him back into his jointed snaffle and he settled straight away.
id say it all depends on the individual horse. i had a few issues with Paddy, but they were controllable, until my mum bought me a dutch gag (because my old horses owner reccommended one for my old horse. i was made to put it in and it created more problems than it was worth. whereas, you'll come across horses who are happier in a dutch gag than a jointed snaffle.


Salsa & Solstice Twilight
Sep 12, 2003
North Yorkshire
I agree with ponylover 88. Both my horses are in French Links now, and seem much happier in them, but different horses prefer different things. Jacob used to be in a jointed snaffle, and when he started misbehaving his old owner put him in a Dutch gag. When we bought him, I realised he found this type of bit painful and put him in a FL. His behaviour (especially his bucking) improved immediately. But I know of a friend who's horse much prefers a Dutch gag, and is a nightmare in anything else. Personally, I prefer FL snaffles to most other bits, as I'm not keen on the "nutcracker" action. But it all comes down to you and your horse.


Well-Known Member
Jul 12, 2004
chickflick1066 said:
So, what action does a hanging cheek have?
hanging cheeks like the snaffle ring on a dutch gag. it has that twisting effect of the mouth piece, and lowers the horses head. again, i tried Paddy in one of these and his head went too low. :rolleyes: poor lad didnt like it!:rolleyes: hes such a wimp

forgot to add before, Bertha was in a french link and went quite happily in it, til the madam got too strong for comfort on hacks and was taking off with my mum and put her back out!!:rolleyes:

happy highlande

New Member
Nov 20, 2005
You also need to consider the thickness of the tongue. My chap has a wide thick mouth, with a thick tongue. A jointed snaffle just doesn't fit in his mouth - he has a french link and goes well in it.

Proir to him I had a warmblood and Arab welsh X who were both perfectly happy in eggbutt jointed snaffles

So it really is(the right bit for the right) horses for courses.

Can you borrow the bits you want to try and see which one suits your horse?

Pink's lady

hanging cheeks like the snaffle ring on a dutch gag. it has that twisting effect of the mouth piece, and lowers the horses head.

Not really Unless the cheek peice is very long, the leverage on it is minimal. it's more designed to keep the bit still in the horses mouth.

Sustainable dressage has excellent description of how different bits work

If she's being strong (and it's a naughtyness problem, not a lack of schooling ;)) than I would suggest a kimblewick or a three-ring snaffle with two reins. Kimblewicks half way between a pelham and a snaffle and good for stronger horses without being severe. The three-ringed snaffle (dutch gag) is a useful bit in the right hands, with two rein. Have the top rein on the snaffle ring and it's just a normal snaffle. The second rein on a lower rein need only be used is the horse isn't listening. Sadly they're all too often ridden with just one rein, usually on the lowest ring :(
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