A bridle that fits well and is adjusted correctly will help your horse be relaxed and comfortable. Correct fit and adjustment also ensures your rein cues reach your horse accurately. Since each part of the bridle works in conjunction with every other part, one improper adjustment will throw your cues off, which causes confusion for your horse. According to world renowned horseman Jack Brainard in his book If I Were To Train A Horse http://bit.ly/2BxlQoD “nearly all horsemen, almost through generations of their ancestry, will tell you that you need a little wrinkle on the corners of the horse’s mouth. Some even tell you the horse should smile a little. Nothing could be farther from the truth. A wrinkle in the corner of the horse’s mouth feels no better to him than it would to his rider. Make sure when you adjust your bit, especially the snaffle, there is no wrinkle.”
Guidelines for correctly adjusting your bridle:
- You can tell when the cheek pieces on your bridle are adjusted correctly because the bit will be in the proper position in your horse’s mouth. When fitting a bridle, begin by adjusting the cheek piece buckle(s), so the bit rests loosely in the mouth. Tighten the buckle(s) one hole at a time (if you have buckles on each side tighten them evenly) until the bit is positioned correctly and is level in the mouth.
- When a bit is positioned correctly it should be snug against the corners of the mouth. It should not be tight enough to cause wrinkles or loose enough to be hanging below the corners of the mouth and potentially bumping teeth. With snaffles, the curb is attached to each snaffle ring between the mouthpiece and rein. The curb will help to keep the snaffle rings from being pulled through the horse’s mouth when turning or doubling. The curb should hang loosely. With a leverage bit, the curb is always attached in the bridle ring where the headstall is attached. It should be adjusted to make contact with the chin when the reins are pulled slightly.
- The browband must comfortably hold the cheek pieces in position without being so tight that it pinches the base of the ears. The browband keeps the cheek pieces in place so the bridle doesn’t slide backward. If a bridle slides backward, it causes pressure on the bit, which is uncomfortable and can cause your horse to gap its mouth.
- The throatlatch holds the cheek pieces on the face if a horse tries to rub the bridle off. It should be adjusted so you can easily slip your hand between it and the horse’s cheek.
My handmade headstalls and bridles are designed with closely spaced adjustment holes to allow very minor adjustments to be made. The buckles are secured in place by extra stitches hand sewn just below the buckle. Headstalls come in single ply leather, doubled and stitched harness or latigo leather, basket stamped and leather with rawhide braid. If you have any questions call 817-312-5305 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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