More British snaffle bits shipped to India

December 4, 2010

A second shipment of snaffle bits has been made to India by a British group aiming to improve working horse welfare among indigenous horses in the country.

Horrific local bits which Friends of the Marwari / Kathiawari Horse UK are replacing with kinder snaffle bits.

The group was pleased to see this horse wearing a bit that was donated on the last delivery trip, at Balotra in March 2010.

More than 140 pony sized snaffle bits were given to influential Indian horse breeders, professional traders, riders and individual owners of horses, mostly of the Marwari and Kathiawari breeds, by the Friends of the Marwari/Kathiawari Horse UK (FOMHUK) group.

FOMHUK was formed in 2008 to promote the welfare and help bring worldwide awareness of Marwari and Kathiawari horses. These unique breeds can only be found in the desert regions of India and are distinguished by their curly touching ears.

With the success of the first bit delivery trip which took place in March 2010 at the Balotra Fair where 80 bits were distributed, the Friends gained the support of the Worshipful Company of Loriners (bit makers) who were inspired to help this simple but effective scheme.

Many Indian horses are ridden in severe locally made "snaffle" bits that are commonly used in India. The bits are often crudely filed, with sharp shapes on the mouthpiece (spikes and rowels) and cause immense suffering and injury to the animal. It is often a lack of education or knowledge on the part of the owner that causes them to use these cruel bits.

A self-funded party of three FOMHUK members flew to India on November 4, and travelled 350km by horse safari from Nawalgarh to reach the famous Pushkar horse and camel fair near Ajmer, one of the largest horse fairs held in Rajasthan. The team was guided by the active involvement of Rawal Devendra Singh Nawalgarh, a major breeder and Rajasthan representative for the Indigenous Horse Society of India.

At the fair, the FOMHUK team found a receptive audience amongst the breeders some which had travelled from the neighbouring state of Gujarat, and the team created quite a gathering each time bits were being donated. There was much explanation of the benefits of a kinder bit to the horses' mouth.

FOMHUK team member Janet Barber with a local horse at the fair.
"I put my newly purchased stallion in the eggbutt snaffle that you gave me," said Anish Gajjar of the Equestrian Club of Gujarat. "This made him much more comfortable in handling. Now that I've brought him home, I'm using minimum gear and the stallion is responding beautifully."

Rawal Devendra Singh Nawalgarh said he had received superb reports about the Bit Donation Scheme, "all very happy, they want us to continue."

FOMHUK chairman Caroline Moorey, who joined Janet Barber and Arthur Hill on the second shipment, said the team was very pleased with the positive reaction to the scheme at the fair. "We were especially pleased that our second trip was as well received as the first trip and delighted to see evidence that our bits from the first trip were still in use.

"We have to thank the UK public who have been so encouraging and generous. The beauty of the Bit Donation Scheme is its simplicity. People in the UK can actively help by donating their unwanted pony bits without it costing them a penny."

Examples of kinder home-made bits that are available, though in reduced numbers, and not
prominently displayed, amongst the cruel local bits.