About American Gags – by Abbey Bits
The American “Gag” has been an addition to the UK tack room for over forty years. With its origins in the American Tennessee walking horse disciplines, it has been used for horses in fast work.
A true Gag bit, now more commonly referred to for greater clarity as a Running Gag, will be fitted onto specially modified bridle cheeks that allow the bit to slide upwards upon them with a strong lifting action.
The American “Gag” has long metal cheeks that extend below the mouthpiece with the rein attached to the bottom ring. As this contact is taken up a strong leverage action will be applied with the mouthpiece as the fulcrum. This will place a focused downwards pressure across the mouth tilting the mouthpiece forwards. A downward pressure will also be applied over the poll through the bridle.
It is possible to use two sets of reins on this bit by attaching a second set to the Dee at the side of the mouthpiece. On just this top rein it will have an action similar to that of a Snaffle.
The long cheeks above and below the bit can aid with directional guidance and help to a degree to keep the mouthpiece central. Care needs to be taken to make sure that the horse’s lips do not get pinched as the lever action is brought into play. Bit Guards will help to prevent this but if used a wider bit will be required to allow space for them. Generally, it is a bit for the experienced horse and rider when in fast work.