All About Bridles
Bridles are an essential piece of gear when it comes to riding horses. Yet, when you to select a bridle for your horse there are so many options. Is your horse a cob? Do you need a snaffle bridle? Or a dressage bridle or one of the many other kinds? Let’s break it down.
The bridle serves various purposes. While some parts are decorative others are essential tools in your horse riding experience. The average English bridle is made up off six parts: crown piece, browl band, two cheek pieces, the noseband, the bit, and the reins.
The crown piece and the cheek pieces make up the part of the bridle that goes up over the horses head and down the cheeks to the bit. It’s important to have good fit here so that the bit isn’t pulling against the horses mouth or hanging to low and hitting their teeth or sliding through their mouth.
The nose band is not a necessary piece of the bridle, but it does provide a function when used. It helps keep the horse from opening their mouth too much and disengaging from the bit. It can also transfer pressure to other areas of the horse’s head.
The browl band serves no real function other than stylistic. It should however still fit properly. If it is too tight or sitting in the wrong place it can cause the horse discomfort. However , if it’s too big it doesn’t cause any functional issues, but isn’t as aesthetically pleasing.
The reins are of course how you engage contact with the bit and the horses mouth.
Types of Bridles
The snaffle bridle is your basic English bridle. It can be used for hunters, jumpers, dressage, or eventing. In reality, the dressage bridle is actually just a snaffle bridle with stylistic designs that are specific to the dressage discipline. Function wise they do the same thing. Within snaffle bridles you might see things that talk about padded bridles or raised bridles. These are stylistic differences that make the bridle look more substantial for horse’s with larger heads.
Additionally you will see different types of nosebands on a snaffle bridle. These include a figure-eight noseband, a flash nose band (pictured at the very top of the page on a dressage bridle), and a crank noseband. These nosebands are intended to help keep a horse’s mouth closed during work. They can be restricting though, and are not appropriate for every horse. Check with your trainer to make sure a different type of noseband is appropriate for your horse.
Double Bridle or Weymouth Bridle
These bridles are found in upper level dressage. They allow the rider to use to two different bits at once on their horse. Again make sure you’ve checked with your trainer to see if this type of bridle is appropriate for your horse.
Bitless bridles are bridles that do not utilize the bit. Instead the bridle is designed to put pressure elsewhere on the horse’s head. Bitless bridles are not appropriate for all horses, however, some horses will thrive with them, so always check with your trainer.
This bridle is getting a honorable mention. It is essentially a snaffle bridle, but one that has been remodeled to be the gentlest and most comfortable for the horse. I don’t have much personal experience with this bridle, but research says it’s very good for horse’s with sensitive mouths. I’m thinking it might be good for my horse!
Hopefully this basic primer has helped you understand the differences in bridles. Good luck in your future bridle shopping!