Your horses bridle is of paramount importance in every aspect of your horse training schedule.
Not only must it fit your horse perfectly, but it must encourage submission and acceptance of the bit without exerting undue pressure on your horses head.
The Horse Bridle
The vast majority of horse bridles are manufactured using leather.
Leather bridles are designed to be comfortable for your horse and to last a lifetime.
Ensuring your horses bridle fits properly is extremely important and almost equally simple.
Be sure you take a few moments to test the fit of each position in the bridle and to verify you’re not inadvertently causing your horse any pain or discomfort.
The Bridle Browband …
The browband is a strap that rests across the forehead of the horse, just a bit underneath the ears.
Its purpose is to prevent the bridle from being pulled back over the ears and down the neck.
It is important to make sure the browband does not pinch the horse; it should fit snugly without being tight.
If your horse has a wider head than normal don’t worry if the browband on your selected bridle doesn’t fit him properly, you can purchase browbands individually and fit them to your existing bridle.
Browbands are generally very cheap, so it’s not worth risking your horses comfort to save a little money.
Some western bridles forego a browband in favor of two ear loops attached to the headpiece.
The Bridle Noseband …
The noseband (also called the cavesson) is positioned above the nose, though its exact placement and function will differ depending on the style of bridle used and the riding discipline.
A noseband should allow at least two fingers worth of slack; anything less is too tight.
- On a snaffle bridle the noseband is generally positioned a bit above the bit and is present for cosmetic purposes rather than function.
- Other bridles such as the Kineton are somewhat harsh, designed to pull the horse’s head down for collection upon direct rein/bit contact.
Only you can decide what specific noseband best suits you, but keep in mind if you use a harsher noseband and it is set too low, a sharp yank can easily injure the fragile nasal bones or tissue.
The Bridle Cheekpieces …
The cheekpiece plays a vital role in the bridle since it determines the level of communication that will exist between you, your reins and the bit.
- If the cheekpiece is too loose the bit will rest low in the horses mouth, causing the bit to hit the horses front teeth and subject the tongue to uncomfortable pressure. Both results can be painful for the horse and you should ensure a proper fit for your horse bridle or it will negatively affect your horses performance.
- A cheekpiece that is too tight is little better since it will cause the bit to rest too high in the mouth and dig into the cheeks, causing a painful pinch. When this happens your horse will usually try and bite down on the bit and/or push it forward to alleviate the pain.
A properly fitted cheekpiece will allow one wrinkle in the corners of the horses mouth.
Also called a throat latch, this horse bridle piece rests underneath the upper jaw near the neck.
Its purpose is to hold the bridle in place and prevent the horse from rubbing the bridle off its head.
Make sure the throatlash does not fit so tightly that it constricts your horses breathing.
The general rule of thumb for proper clearance is three fingers width.
Although you don’t want to fit the throatlash too loosely as a loose fit will reduce its effectiveness, but it’s far better for you to err on the side of too loose than too tight.
Every Horse rider should know and understand how important the horse bridle is. Incorrect fitting and or bridles made from sub-standard materials can be a cause of equestrian injuries