Tack: Auxiliary Equipment
By Karen Nelson
This is considered a lunging rig, however it is sometimes used for riding as well. It is
designed to prevent a horse from raising its head past a certain point, and when
properly used, can help a horse to develop its back muscles, helping it to learn to
carry itself with a round back, and can correct a horse that resists training by
raising its head and hollowing its back.
How it is Put On:
The Chambon connects between the legs to the girth, so a saddle or lunging surcingle is required. A cord is connected
to either side of a snaffle bit, through rings on the strap that is connected to the crown piece and then through the
leather strap that connects to the girth. The cord should not be fixed to the leather strap, but rather should be able to
slide side to side as needed to maintain even pressure on both sides of the bit. The main pressure is on the poll via a
thick leather band which puts pressure over a wide area reducing the chance of nerve damage to this area. The length
of Chambon is adjusted via a buckle on the leather strap that attaches to the girth.
How it Works:
- If the horse raises its head, the horse feels pressure on its poll and mouth. The below picture shows where the
Chambon works on the horse; the red at the poll and at the bit are where the Chambon "corrects" the horse if it tries to
raise its head. The bit is pulled back towards the poll.
- If the horse lowers its head and stretches its neck out, the Chambon should not
have any effect on the horse.
-It is important to note, that the Chambon has the same effect if the horse has its
nose tucked in, or poked out. It is NOT designed to be a "head setting" device, it is
only meant to encourage the horse to lower its head in response to pressure
behind the poll.
The Chambon should be adjusted based on the horse's age and training, and should be tightened slowly once the
horse understands to give to poll pressure. The horse should not be forced to hold its head below its withers, as it will
be unable to use its back with this posture.
When used properly, this device is very friendly and straight forward to the horse; any downward movement of the
horse's head/neck is rewarded with instant release, however it is important that the horse understands to give to poll
pressure for this to work without causing the horse to panic when it first feels the device tighten. Unlike many other
lunging devices, the Chambon allows the horse to stretch its neck with the rhythm of the walk and canter, and allows the
horse to use its back at these gaits as well as at the trot.
The Chambon encourages the horse to stretch its topline and the Nuchal Ligament that runs along the spine. By
stretching this ligament, the major back muscles (the longissimus muscles) are able to relax and work freely.
Using the Chambon while lunging over poles and Cavaletti can be used to increase the strength training aimed at the
CONS/RISKS of using the Chambon
1) If the horse does not understand to give to poll pressure, then the horse may resist violently to the feeling of
pressure up on the mouth and down on the poll. Rearing may be a consequence. The Chambon should ALWAYS be
done up in the arena and not on cement in case the horse panics.
2) As this device works so well, it is easy to over do it, and cause back strain. Limit how tightly it is done up, and how
long it is used for, and increase the tension and time as the horse's fitness increases. It is important that the horse is
encouraged to stretch, but not allowed to over do it and potentially damage the Nuchal ligament.
3) This is NOT meant to be used with a rider as it is meant to encourage the horse to round its back and tighten its
stomach muscles. Add a rider and the horse's back is put under extreme stress. The weight of the rider will also
discourage the horse from reaping the benefits of this device. As a rule of thumb, I don't ride with any devices that
attach to the bit that is not under control of the rider in case of emergency.
4) If the horse is not encouraged to track up and use its hind end actively, then the Chambon will effectively pull the
horse onto its forehand and will not have the desired effects. To use the Chambon properly, the horse must be
encouraged to track up correctly.
5) The pressure on the bit is up towards the poll, which can pull the bit up into the teeth, and does not teach the horse
to give to the bit pressure that a rider would impose. This is not a device that trains the horse to listen to the rider's
hands, but does help the horse develop the back muscles needed to carry a rider in a healthy manner.
6) The Chambon cannot correct a horse that sucks its head up and back, and contracts its neck in an extreme manner.
Working over poles in the Chambon can help this type of horse however, as the poles will encourage the horse to
stretch and drop its head.
An experienced handler is important to ensure the Chambon is being used correctly and doing the job it
was designed to do.