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Pelham Info


It has elements of both a curb bit and a snaffle bit. In this respect a Pelham bit functions similar to a double bridle, and like a double bridle it normally has "double" reins: a set of curb reins and a set of snaffle reins.
Because it has a bit shank and can exert curb-style pressure on the horse, it is considered a curb bit.
Like all curb bits, a Pelham bit has a mouthpiece, shanks with both purchase and lever arms, a ring for rein attachment at the bottom of the shank, and a curb chain.

A Pelham works on several parts of a horse's head, depending on which rein is applied. The mouthpiece acts when either the snaffle or curb rein is applied and puts pressure on the bars, tongue, and lips of the horse. The curb chain and design of the mouthpiece can alter the degree of pressure placed on the horse's mouth. 
The roof of the mouth is affected if the bit mouthpiece of the Pelham has a high port or if it is jointed. Pressure on the poll occurs when the curb rein is engaged, and pressure is directly related to the length of the upper shank (purchase arm) in relation to the lower shank (lever arm). All Pelhams apply some pressure on the poll. Pressure is applied to the chin groove by the curb chain when the curb rein is used. Direct rein pressure from the snaffle rein may put some pressure on the sides of the horse's mouth, depending on the specific bit design.

Curb chain
The curb chain applies pressure to the groove under a horse's chin. It amplifies the pressure on the bars of the horse's mouth, because when it tightens it acts as a fulcrum.

Adjusted correctly, the chain links lie flat and hang loose below the chin groove, coming into action against the jaw only when the shanks have rotated due to rein pressure. The point at which the curb chain engages varies with the individual needs of the horse, but contact at 45 degrees of shank rotation is a common default adjustment.

The pelham bit has several uses. In the English riding disciplines, it is used in place of a double bridle, when it is desirable to have double reins but not two bits. The pelham bit is also used for polo, when the action of a double bridle is desired, but the rider's ability to make rein adjustments is limited.In training, a pelham bit sometimes is used in both English and western disciplines to transition a horse from a snaffle bit to a curb bit or double bridle.

Sometimes, a bit converter, also known as a pelham rounding, is used so a pelham can be used with one pair of reins. This is most often seen with beginners and for riders in the cross-country phase of eventing. However, use of a converter is illegal in most other horse show classes but not all.

Horse shows
In horse shows, a pelham bit may be used in some disciplines but is prohibited in others. In the Australia and United States, use of a pelham bit is prevalent in hunt seat equitation, and occasionally in show jumping and eventing. Use of this bit is legal, but not common, in show hunter, and English pleasure. In the United Kingdom, this bit is often used in place of a double bridle in show hunter, show hack, Riding Horse, show cob and mountain and moorland classes, but it is forbidden in equitation and novice classes. The pelham is not permitted in dressage at any level. The pelham is never legal for use in any western riding discipline, where either a snaffle bit or a curb bit is used.

Variations of the pelham bit are often seen in driving in situations where a bit more control is required that can be obtained with a snaffle alone or with a combination of snaffle and overcheck. Shank designs and size are governed by the rules for various forms of competition and very considerably across disciplines from combined driving to draft horse showing.

In polo, a pelham bit is one of the two bits most commonly used (the other being a gag bit). Double reins are held in one hand. Neck reining is used almost exclusively, and riders have little or no need to adjust the reins while riding. Draw reins are commonly used, on the snaffle ring. The rein lengths are adjusted so that the rein used normally is the snaffle rein, with the curb rein only coming into effect when needed. Such techniques are not legal in show disciplines and are exclusive to polo.

The angle cheek pelham was formerly used in the Australian Light Horse and other cavalry units as it was designed to suit as many horses' mouths as possible. The Australian design had one side of the mouthpiece smooth and the other serrated. Various rein attachments were also possible with this bit.

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