Tack Tip Tuesday: Full Cheek vs Fulmer
The world of bits can be confusing. With endless different combinations of mouthpieces and cheekpieces and names some bits can start to look the same. The Fulmer and the Full Cheek is one of those bits. Even a google search will not give you a straight answer on which is which. They look similar, act somewhat similar but are two different styles of bits.
Let's start with the Fulmer. The Fulmer is a unique bit, that isn't super common in North America but is popular in Europe. The Fulmer is a type of full cheek snaffle.
"The mouthpiece and the full cheeks are forged or cast in one piece (i.e. there is no swivel joint at the cheeks). That’s one of the key differences from an ordinary full cheek snaffle. Another difference is that the Fulmer snaffle has loose ring that go through a hole in a projection outside the full cheeks. Finally, the Fulmer always has a slight bend at the top of the cheek to accept bit keepers which hold the bit in alignment.
Americans and the English call this bit the Fulmer snaffle because, Robert Hall, an Englishman who had studied at the Spanish Riding School, popularized it at his Fulmer Riding Academy. In Australia, this bit used to be known as the "F. M. snaffle" after Franz Mairinger, a Spanish Riding School rider who emigrated to Australia after World War II. As the coach of several Australian Olympic eventing teams, Mairinger popularized the bit among sport riders there. Although Mairinger called the bit a Podhajsky snaffle, it became known as the "F. M. snaffle". Ironically, the Australians already had an almost identical bit that was used by their cattlemen. That is why the bit is sometimes called the Australian loose ring snaffle." - Horses and Dressage
The Fulmer bit is a loose ring and a standard full cheek combined. It will allow for the movements and cues similar to a loose ring, but with the extra guidance and pressure of a full cheek.
Comparative to a standard full cheek, you will notice on how the connection to the mouthpiece if different. It a fixed swivel on a standard full cheek and on the Fulmer the cheek is solid and the movement comes from the ring.
The full cheek I use in this #TackTipTuesday is a keys snaffle. This type of bit isn't used for riding, but for letting young horses get use to having a bit in their mouth. It is an older style of bit and not as common any more, which is why I find it a neat one to have in my collection!
At the end of the day these bits work very similar. I wouldn't say one is better than the other, but this is where horsemanship becomes an art of feel and listening to your horse. Their preference will tell you which bit they prefer.