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Types and Uses of Equestrian Bridles

By now I’m sure you will have guessed that am a bit of a bridle bit junkie. I’m so hooked on learning more about bridle bit that I search ALL day some days. Well yesterday, I found a fantastic article about bridle bitand I wanted to share it with you.

Check it out below and then come back and click on the link at the end of this sentence if you wanna know more about bridle bit.

This informative article discusses the types and variations of equine Bridles and also their applications in the equestrian world.

Hackamore – This is a bitless bridle which is effective in controlling the horse via pressure points on the horses head and face. Reins are attached to the nose band/nose piece. This form of large leather bridle is often a good choice for horses with sensitive mouths and helps maintain good control of the horse. However, most shows don’t allow the use of Hackamore bridles.

Pelham – For use with a single pelhon bit, this English type bridle allows the use of either a snaffle or curb rein.

Double – As the name suggests, this bridle uses 2 bits; a Bradon and a Weymouth. Each has their own set of reins. Due to the potential severity of this bridle and the skill it can require for use it is more commonly used in high levels of riding.

Western – As you would expect these bridles are usually worn in ‘western’ scenarios. They don’t have a noseband and are frequently seen without a brow band. The missing brow band is often replaced with a single ear design that wraps around one ear for security, helping to keep the bridle on.

Gag – This bridle is for use with ‘Gag’ bits. The cheek pieces are rounded and pass through both top and bottom holes of the bit attaching directly to the reins. Pressure on the reins slides the bit up or down the cheek pieces putting pressure on the corners of the horse’s mouth. This bridle if not used with caution can have a severe action. A common bit used in Polo, Rodeo and Show Jumping.

Halter – Commonly used by trail riders, for endurance riding and on ranches. This bridle has a ‘halter’ design and quick release cheek pieces. This is a brilliant safety feature for when wanting to tie up horses and for relieving the horse of the bit without having to remove the whole bridle.

Snaffle – One of the most commonly used bridles in English Riding. This bridle uses one bit, usually the Snaffle bit and one set of reins. It can be used with and other bits that use single reins.

There are many variations of bridles and they can be very specific for their purpose. Some bridles provide pressures on areas of the horse’s head, e.g. poll or lips, which assist in controlling the horse.

Parts of the Bridle – from top to bottom

Headpiece – A strip of leather that sits just behind the horses ears, the straps at either end are, on either side, the cheek pieces. The strip of leather on the horses off side is the throat lash; on the nearside is the throat lash attachment.

Brow band – Additional security to prevent the cheek pieces slipping back. Noseband attachment and headpiece run through either end of the brow band. Decorative jewellery or colourful ribbon can be sewn on to brow bands for decoration, often matching the rider.

Cheek pieces – Either side of the horses face, are found on either end of the headpiece. They are used to attach the bit to the bridle.

Noseband – Attached through the ends of the brow band and follows the same line over the horses head as the headpiece. Used to keep the mouth / jaws closed, or for attaching certain martingales.

Throat lash – Fitted as a strap under the horse’s throat for additional security. Should not be fitted tightly.
Reins – Attach to the bit, below the cheek pieces attachments. They are the rider’s form of contact to the horses head. They can be made of rubber, plain leather, braided or laced leather or non-slip material useful for when riding in wet conditions.

There are other attachments or accessories that can be worn in conjunction with these basics; these include Bit Guards, Curb Straps, Lip Straps and Blinkers. All of which will be added if and when they are needed. There are also a range of pony show bridles.

Fitting and Safety
Horses should never be tied up using the reins of their bridle. If they were to pull back severe injury to the horses head and jaw can occur.

A correctly fitted bridle is essential for the horses comfort and the riders’ control. A correctly fitting bridle will help when trying to develop a good working relationship between horse and rider.

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