A curb chain is either a single or a double link chain which forms part of a curb bit. There are many types of curb bit, so curb chains are used with pelhams and double bridles which are probably the most commonplace, and also bitless bridles or hackamores.
The curb chain sits in the chin groove and is designed to keep the curb bit stable and also to provide pressure in the chin groove when the rein acts on the shank of the bit. Some curb chains on English bridles will have an additional link hanging down called the fly link and these bridles have a narrow leather strap called a lip strap, which runs through the fly link and attaches to either side of the shank. As well as applying pressure in the chin groove, the curb chain also acts on the mouthpiece of the bit, increasing the pressure on the bars of the horse’s mouth.
The curb bit does not work without the curb chain, so it is an essential part of the bridle and also very easy to lose! It is attached on either side of the bit to curb hooks. Some curb chains are covered in a soft sheep-skin or in orange rubber, sometimes even gel. These coverings are designed to maximise the horse’s comfort and ensure that pressure is applied evenly and there are no pinch points.
As well as being easy to lose, curb chains do need to be fitted correctly and may have to be adjusted on purchase as they tend to come in standard sizes and could, therefore, be too long for your bridle. When pressure is applied on the curb rein and the shank is moved to an angle of 45 degrees, the curb chain should slide gently into the chin groove, exerting pressure, whilst remaining flat at all times.
Browse a great selection of Curb Chains and Covers Online at Greg Grant Saddlery, with Free Shipping for orders over $100 within Australia!