The chambon is used to encourage the horse to work in a longer, lower outline, using the muscles over the back, quarters and neck. It’s ideal for the early stages of a horse’s education or in retraining. “It’s effective for horses who go in a hollow outline, with their head up, back dropped and quarters trailing,” explains expert instructor and dressage trainer Tara Osborn. “By encouraging the longer, lower frame, the horse will learn to use his back muscles and engage his quarters. It must be introduced slowly and the horse must be encouraged forward into the contact to get the best results.”
What is it?
A cord clips to each bit ring and then passes upwards and through a loop on each side of a poll strap. From here, the cords drop downwards to attach to a single strap that passes between the horse’s forelegs and loops onto the girth or roller.
When should it be used?
For lungeing or loose schooling on the flat.
How does it work?
The chambon acts on the poll and, via the bit, on the corners of the mouth. When the horse raises his head higher than desired, the bit is raised in the mouth and poll pressure is applied. As soon as he lowers his head the pressure is removed. In effect, the horse works the chambon.
What is it good for
- Developing suppleness of the back
- Encouraging a longer, lower frame
- Developing muscle over the back and loins - particularly good for strengthening those used for show jumping
- Strengthening the hindquarters
- Developing looseness in the paces through suppleness in the back
- Developing topline muscle
What can go wrong?
If fitted too tightly, the horse will draw his neck back and become overbent. If the chambon is too loose, the horse will trail his quarters and little muscle development will be achieved. Finally, the horse shouldn’t be allowed to slop along so no connection to the contact is made. Any of these mistakes will lead to the horse working on his forehand.