Bridles, are often thought to be an easy purchase. They are needed for any aspect of ridden work, so are considered a basic necessity.
But, what if bridles aren't just a quick fix? What if more measurements and key points need to be taken into account? Could you comfortably tell me that you know exactly where and how tight/loose each piece should be on your horse? Are you sure your bridle isn't putting pressure on them?
I often get calls from clients asking me to check a bridle, with them often thinking they are totally crazy. In fact, they are the more sensible by asking me to check the fitting. No one should be put off of asking.
I am going to go on the basis of Standard Cavessons & Crank Nosebands. For more detailed bridles like Kinetons, Grackles, Doubles and Flash's - these require a closer attention for the fitting, so please feel free to message me or your local retailer regarding fitting.
Let's start with back coming front - the Throatlash.
Tight or not? Answer: No. Why? It will interfere with collection and breathing. How tight/loose should it be? A closed fist away from the side of the cheek. Any tighter, and you will comprimise the neck position and breathing flow.
Check pieces/Poll side straps: A correctly fitting bridle should have the buckle UNDER the corner of the eye. Why? Because most bridles tend to move (a good thing) and what you would seriously like to avoid is the buckle taking out the eye. If your buckle is further up than the corner of the eye, your cheekpieces are too large. They should also be totally parallel and lie BEHIND the horses cheekbones, NOT on top or infront. This will cause a pressure sensitivity on the facial nerves and perhaps some shyness.
Browband: Just a fashion item, so it doesn't really matter right? No. Be sure, your browband does not PULL the bridle onto the back of the ears. Ideally a slightly (not too much) looser browband is ideal. What you have adorned is your choice ;)
Noseband: Crooked? Too high? Again; no. The noseband needs to be approx 1cm below the cheekbones. Any higher, and the pain you create is similar to having a wisdom tooth out, without aneasthetic. What if it is lower? It can cut off the airway as it will no longer be sitting on the bone.
The buckle which is given very little importance, needs to sit right inbetween the jaw bones. This avoids any pressure points on the actual bone, and sits happily in the fleshy muscle inbetween. The tightness of each type of noseband should see 2 fat fingers (3 slim ones) behind and infront of a correctly fitting noseband. Your fingers should NOT be placed flat but on the side against the nosepiece.
What about a Crank Noseband? The pad of a Crank should NEVER meet with the front part - this means your noseband is too tight and will cause pinching and sores.
That really is it - those checks would take any rider/groom 5 minutes to perform. Having a correctly fitting bridles also helps with your horses concentration and less distraction from any pinching any other fitting may have caused.
5 minutes of time, for a whole world of comfort and possibilities. Please ensure your bridle is correctly fitted before each ride, especially leather as they can stretch. Should you be in the process of purchasing a new bridle, your local retailer should be able to correctly identify an ill fitting bridle and fit your new one accordingly.
Until next time
Jayde :D X
*Bridle pictures is the Busse Glory Bridle with an ALMOST correct fitting. This bridle is available for purchase*