This type of horse bridle is knowns as a snaffle, which is the simplest and most usual type of bit used in horse riding. There are different types of snaffles with this fine example being one of the more straight forward design. During the Ancient Roman empire, iron and bronze were popular materials for making horse bits, but today stainless steel, rubber and plastic elements are preferred. The mouthpiece applies direct pressure to the horse’s gums, the bar sits in a gap between the horses front teeth and their back teeth. Straps would be attached to the rings, acting as the head straps and the reins by which the rider would be able to control the horse.
Horses were an integral part of Roman society, fulfilling many roles. Horses were used in the Roman military, primarily as cavalry. These breeds were trained for battle for both pulling chariots and carrying soldiers riding horseback making them an essential asset in warfare. Outside of the military they were used extensively in agriculture, transportation and entertainment. Horses would be used for farm work, pulling ploughs, carts and wagons, but also used for racing and in gladiator contests. Horses were selectively bred for strength and speed and were valued for their ability to perform specific tasks.