Butterfly Bit?

Miniature Horse Talk Forums

Help Support Miniature Horse Talk Forums:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.


Well-Known Member
Jan 19, 2009
Reaction score
I don't know much about driving and I assume that Butterfly Bits are fairly common in driving, so I'm very unfamiliar with them.

What exactly is a Butterfly Bit? Is it a leverage bit? How is it different from other bits?
We use a french link butterfly with Mingus, and he goes very well in it.

Depending upon the mouthpiece, which setting you use, and whether or not you use a curb chain, the butterfly can act either as a leverage or a non-leverage bit.

Since we use a jointed mouthpiece, there is no leverage, even if we were to use a curb chain and lower setting, as any action is lost since the sides move independently (although I suppose he would feel a "massage" from the chain and on the french link joint).

With a non-jointed mouthpiece and no curb chain, the first setting gives just a slight amount of curb action. Add a curb chain and you have a little more leverage. Switch to the lower setting and you have still more leverage. So, as with a Liverpool, you have several options in one bit.

Aside from its effectiveness, it is a beautiful bit -- good industrial design is always to be appreciated!

I could be just plain wrong, but I don't think the butterfly bit is allowed in AMHR. I'm not sure about AMHA.
I checked the link and didn't see a photo. The term 'butterfly bit' is a new one on me. Does anyone have a photo?
"Butterfly" actually refers to the cheek design. It is also called a "Post" sometimes.

My Butterfly is a two-loop one. The bit pictured here would only be used on a "big" horse. Only in extreme circumstances would you use the bottom loop on a 3-loop Butterfly or Liverpool. It "tells" the judge that your horse is difficult to handle.

Maybe in Susanne's French (double) Link Butterfly the leverage might be reduced in a lower setting, but in a single-jointed leverage bit, the affected pressure points would actually increase. Solid mouth bits do not necessarily affect the corners of the mouth and lips like a jointed bit do, and therefore depending on the design of the mouth, more pressure points can be affected than in a solid mouth leverage bit.

I would not use a leverage bit without a curb chain or strap, as the bit can actually rotate all the way around in the mouth, creating more pain than the pressure on the chin would.

Since we use a jointed mouthpiece, there is no leverage, even if we were to use a curb chain and lower setting, as any action is lost since the sides move independently (although I suppose he would feel a "massage" from the chain and on the french link joint).
Even when using this bit with no chain or strap, there is much more pressure felt by the horse, as the design of the bit is such that there will be a small amount of leverage even in the snaffle position, as well as poll pressure.

If you are not using a chain or strap, (and definately should with any leverage bit) why are you even using this bit, instead of an "ordinary" snaffle? Curious?? Were you to use this bit "properly", with the chain or strap, even WITH the double jointed mouthpiece...the result will certainly be much more than a simple "massage". The operative word would be very likely changed from massage, to message.
I can see where a single-jointed butterfly would certainly be stronger than a french-link, but the fulcrum required to truly apply leverage does not exist with the double joint of a french link. I had already observed this in person, and then read a discussion about this on CD-L...I believe it was Jeff Morse who brought up the lack of leverage with broken mouth bits, but I'd have to go back through their archives to be sure.

Notice that I didn't say that the french link has NO effect -- but it has no true curb effect, as in putting pressure on the poll and chin. You can't have leverage without a fulcrum.

As for why I use it, I bought it for the options, but we started at the mildest setting and have never needed anything else. We haven't had a problem with the bit turning, but I can see where it could so we'll put the chain back on.

I could just as easily drive Mingus with a half cheek french link, but he likes the butterfly and multiple bits are not in our budget.
I was wrong -- it was Hardy Xantke who brought this up.

From archive #126527:

As I stated before, I think I'm more a software man than a hardware guy, and I don't claim to be an expert on hardware, but I have one opinion which is

different of what I often see: I don't believe in any curb bits with a broken

mouthpiece. In my opinion, the only good reason for a curb bit with a broken

mouth piece is in a pair, when one horse prefers a broken snaffle, and you

want to have both bits look the same from the outside. But then use the

curb-bit with the broken mouthpiece ONLY on the plain ring setting, without any

curb-action. Because the moment you try to use curb action on broken mouthpieces,

when you take some contact with the reins, the bit folds together, making

the curb chain MUCH longer, and with that you lose the proper curb-action. Keep

in mind, a properly adjusted curb-chain should allow a rotation of the bit

up to about 45 degrees. Anything shorter is more severe, but anything longer

is also more severe, as it rotates the bit too much, pushes it up in the mouth

and adds poll pressure. So in my opinion curb-bits with broken mouthpieces

defeat the purpose of a curb-bit. So why do we see so many curb bits with

broken mouthpieces out there? I think because many don't properly understand the

different bits, and think, if a snaffle with a broken mouth piece is good,

and a curb bit is good, why don't we combine both, and it should be even better

(same as many of the cross-breedings we see out there) and forgetting that

combining both perhaps may not result in anything better, but may ruin the

good, but separate qualities of both (also same as with many cross-breedings).

Flame away

Now, this quote obviously makes me look silly for even using a butterfly, but as I said, we own it, Mingus likes it and goes well in it, so it works for us.
Well, he certainly is more than entitled to his opinion; but I respectfully disagree.

For a horse that likes a french link, (I have one that insists upon it) or bean...yet you wish for the option of a bit more "handle", then this is what you need...whether it gives as much leverage as an unbroken mouthpiece or not. As far as a leverage bit with a single jointed mouthpiece...that, IMHO, can become an instrument of torture in a nano-second, and should never be used off of the "snaffle" setting...ever. I have been unfortunate enough to see what that bit did to the roof of their horse's mouths in the hands of a few western riders that should never have held a rein on their own till they learned to ride...

it has no true curb effect, as in putting pressure on the poll and chin. You can't have leverage without a fulcrum.
Because of the very nature of the design on this bit, the mouth itself acts as the fulcrum, even without the chain. Notice how the cheek-piece of the bridle is higher than the rings of the bit? When you pull the rein(s) the bit HAS to put pressure on the mouth and poll...alibet not as severe as when you use the chain or strap...but it is there just the same.

So no, it doesn't make you silly at all...me neither,
as I too plan to use the french link butterfly with one of my mares, as soon as I get the proper fitting one from Iowa Valley.
There is just no way she will allow any other mouthpiece on her bridle, and yet she is a ball of fire. I just want that tiny bit of extra handle on her when I drive her fresh in the spring...so will use the "snaffle" setting as you do, with the chain.
Any time you have a purchase (the cheek piece above the mouthpiece) on a bit, you will have leverage with a bit of pressure on the poll. That is the reason Baucher bits were made. They have a direct action connection to the mouth, like using the "snaffle" setting on a shanked bit, but with the purchase, it will pull a little on the poll.

Personally, I don't like to combine any configuration of jointed mouthpiece with a leverage shank at all. There are too many pressure points affected. If you are only going to use it in the direct action setting, then it is fine, but why pay extra when you can buy a regular Snaffle or a Baucher?

I can see in Susanne's case where it is not worth it to buy another bit, though.

I was considering a baucher as well, but having never actually seen one used, wasn't sure if it would be the same as the butterfly on the first setting.

Live and learn...LOL! Then again, I haven't found a french link butterfly that fits her yet, so I might go with a baucher afterall now that I have heard it would be the same.
amhr will allow butterfly or liverpool bits in draft and chariot classes

tippy drives in a french link butterfly with a curb chain and the reins on the lowest ring (from miniexpress) in chariot and out on our trail drives. i like the extra handle it gives. she will happily drive in a half cheek french link snaffle as well

Latest posts