The bit and the bridle work together to allow riders to control their horse and send signals to it while they are on its back. The bit is a piece of metal that is attached to the bridle and then placed in the horse's mouth to allow the rider to steer. Bits come in a variety of different shapes and sizes. They are designed to perform a multitude of purposes in terms of levels of steering and control. The snaffle is one of the most common and gentle bits available. Most young horses are first broken to ride using a snaffle bit.
How to Connect a Snaffle to an English Bridle
English bridles have the benefit of being almost universally identical when it comes to construction. Unlike western bridles, which offer a variety of different cheek-piece fasteners, you should now have to spend much time figuring out how to connect a snaffle bit to the bridle if you are familiar with the basic function of the English Bridle.
Locate the cheek-pieces on either side of the bridle. At the bottom end of the cheek-pieces, you should be able to see where the leather strap is folded over on top of itself and held in place with a keeper and a small metal hook. You will need to pull the end of the cheek-piece forward back towards the brow-band in order to dislodge the leather from the keeper. If the bridle is stiff, you may have to gently massage it with leather conditioner first in order to make it malleable. Once the leather is free of the hook, you can slide it backwards out of the keeper. Put the cheek-piece of the bit into the groove where the leather naturally folds, making sure the bit is facing the proper direction (it should bend inwards smoothly) so that it sits properly in the horse's mouth. Slide the leather end back into the keeper, creating a loop to hold the bit. Pull the leather far enough forward it can easily rehook on the metal hook, then pull it tight. Repeat on other side.
You attach the reins the same way, as they feature the same style of keeper. Make sure to place the reins below the leather cheek-pieces on the bit.
How to Connect a Snaffle to a Western Bridle
The primary difference between attaching a snaffle bit to a western bridle versus an English bridle is the type of keeper on the end of the cheek-piece. Western bridles will often have a small screw and post mechanism, sometimes called a Chicago screw, holding the loop on the end of the cheek-piece together. In order to remove the old bit and install a new one, you should use a screwdriver to remove the screw, place the cheek loop on the end of the bit into the leather loop and re-close it by screwing it back together. In some cases, western bridle cheek-pieces may be tied together with strips of latigo leather in place of screws, in which case, you simply untie them. Others have the same type of metal hook and keeper system as an English bridle.
In terms of how to connect a snaffle bit to the bridle, all bridles are more or less the same basic design despite small variables in the actual set up of the keeper. The most important part of bridle set up is actually making sure the bit falls in the correct location in the horse's mouth (in the open area between the front teeth and the molars) and that the bridle is sized and adjusted properly in order to provide your horse with a comfortable fit.