How to fit a bridle. Most people will understand the importance of a correctly fitted saddle and potential problems a poor fitting saddle can cause. However we rarely consider the fit of a bridle. The consequences of a poorly fitted bridle can cause discomfort for the horse at best. At worse it can cause sores, or the horse may develop resentment and behavioural problems. These are highlighted when you attempt to put the bridle on, or even whilst riding.
Which Bridle Should you Choose?Its always important to buy the best fitting tack for your horse or pony, but it’s not always easy. Many horses will be a combination of different sizes and unless you want to buy two bridles you will normally find that you – or more importantly your horse, has to “make do”. This is easy to avoid when buying a Pink Equine Bridle, as we offer a “Mix and Match” of sizes, enabling you to combine different sizes of virtually every part of the bridle, giving you a virtually bespoke solution at an “off the Peg” price. Simply state which parts you want to change, when checking out your order, which alternate sizes you would like and we’ll make you up a bridle.
A Bridle consists of several parts
- One Noseband
- One Browband
- Two Cheekpieces
- One Browband
- English Flash
- English Plain
- Swedish Flash
- Swedish Plain
Noseband Style – English Flash
Also known as a “Hanovarian Drop” or simply a Flash Noseband, it has an additional strap to the Plain Noseband that does up under the bit and around the mouth, it can be fully adjusted to different degrees depending on how much control you require over the horses mouth. The additional Flash strap is used for horses who may open their mouths or attempt to put their tongue over the top of the bit, this is the only difference between the Flash and Plain Noseband.
Noseband Style – English Plain
This noseband is also called a Cavesson Noseband, it is commonly used in snaffle bridles and consists of a single padded band that goes around the horses nose. It provides a comfortable fit without restriction to the horse’s mouth. It is ideal for horses who are generally quiet in the mouth and don’t generally fuss with the bit.
Noseband Style – Swedish Flash
Also known as a “pull back” or Crank noseband, this noseband is very similar to the English Flash Noseband. The difference of the Swedish Flash Noseband is that the back has a padded section with a buckle strap that provides an additional degree of tightening. It is ideal if you require a little more control over the horse’s mouth where a Flash Noseband would not be advisable or is not allowed in competition, it is helpful in preventing the horse from “crossing his jaw” thus evading a contact through the bit. Care should be taken to ensure this is not overtightened. It’s name as a ‘Crank/Pull Back’ noseband does sound severe, however it can equally be used without being tightened – as a plain noseband. Its also worth considering if your horse has sensitive skin and having the additional padding at the back is preferable. The additional Flash strap is used for horses who may open their mouths or attempt to put their tongue over the top of the bit, this is the only difference between the Flash and Plain Noseband.
Noseband Style – Swedish Plain
Also known as a “pull back” or Crank noseband, this noseband is very similar to the English Plain Noseband and is commonly used on Double Bridles. The difference of the Swedish Plain Noseband is that the back has a padded section with a buckle strap that provides an additional degree of tightening. It is ideal if you require a little more control over the horse’s mouth where a Flash Noseband would not be advisable or is not allowed in competition, it is helpful in preventing the horse from “crossing his jaw” thus evading a contact through the bit. Care should be taken to ensure this is not overtightened. It’s name as a ‘Crank/Pull Back’ noseband does sound severe, however it can equally be used without being tightened – as a plain noseband. Its also worth considering if your horse has sensitive skin and having the additional padding at the back is preferable.
Noseband Style – Grackle
The Grackle Noseband, also known as the “Figure 8” is designed to prevent a horse opening his mouth and crossing his jaw, the front crossover point of the Grackle is the main pressure point. The straps pass through a slotted leather circle, which has a removable sheepskin backing on our bridles. This is very important as it can be washed and cleaned to avoid it becoming hard through use and chaffing the horses delicate nose area. The grackle noseband should be fitted so that the sheepskin part sits in the centre of the nose and the two crossover straps sit on the hard bone part going down, avoiding the fleshy parts of the nose. It is ideal if you have a horse who doesn’t like the position of an English or Swedish Noseband, or the thickness of a Noseband as most Grackle’s have much narrower straps.
Noseband Style – Drop
The Drop Noseband prevents a horse opening his mouth to resist the contact, but has a more definite action than the Flash. Some horses respond well but others resent it. The low pressure point in front and pressure in the curb groove at the back is said by some to encourage a horse to lower his head. It can also act to stabilize the bit (and lower jaw) without pulling the cheeks into the molars like a cavesson/plain noseband can.
Pink Equine Nosebands are available in the Tyffany and Diamond Ranges with One Strap and One Buckle, however (if purchasing the noseband separately) the Sport Range offers two options, One Strap One Buckle or Two Buckles. The Bridles have Two Buckles on the Noseband as the design allows you to change nosebands without removing the bridle completely, a useful option if you need different nosebands for different disciplines (or Phases, if Eventing). We have also found the Two Buckle system particularly useful for young horses that are bridle shy or have not been bridled before as you can put the bridle on the horse in parts (carefully of course!). Please ensure that if you are purchasing a noseband only, that you choose the buckle options that will fit with your current bridle, in general most bridles will require the One Buckle, One Strap option, if in doubt though, please do not hesitate to ask. You can also compare your current noseband to the images at the side of this section, choose the one that matches your style.
A Browband is the part of the bridle that goes across the horses forehead, its use is to work in conjunction with the headpiece to keep the bridle in the correct place. The right browband will highlight the best features of your horses head. You should be able to fit no more than two fingers underneath a browband. A well fitting browband should sit across the horses forehead and should not droop down. Pink Equine offer several types of browband, padded, crystal and coloured crystal. .All are made using top quality leather and only genuine CRYSTALLIZED ™ – Elements. Whilst many competitive sports (such as Show jumping or Eventing) are happy for you to fully embrace your love of colour or crystals, it’s always wise to consult the rule book before entering any competitions to double check that it’s allowed. The Sport Range has a thin delicate browband that features coloured stitching, piping and if desired, crystals. The Diamond Range has a thin browband with crystals set onto the front, this range is ideal for horses with delicate heads, its available in a V or Wave Shape. The Tyffany Range is very popular with Dressage and Showjumping it has larger stones set into the browband and is offered in a Wave or Straight Design.
Headpiece – Comfort Padded
This headpiece has additional padding over the horses sensitive poll area, it is generally more used in competition bridles and in conjunction with double bridles. Its function is to alleviate potential pressure on the poll area.
Headpiece – Sport Range Cut Away
This headpiece has part of the Noseband Strap integrated into the design, it is also cut away behind the ears with the padding extending out making it soft for the horse and particularly useful for a horse that is sensitive around the ear area. This image shows the fancy stitch and piping that sets this bridle apart, however if colour isn’t your thing, it can be purchased in plain black or brown.
Cheekpieces – Buckle
All Pink Equine Bridles feature Buckle Cheekpieces, the buckles are set facing outwards so they don’t interfere with the horses soft nose area and this also means they are easy to adjust. This image shows the fancy stitch and piping that sets this bridle apart, however if colour isn’t your thing, it can be purchased in plain black or brown.
Trying on a Bridle
Steps when Trying on a Bridle
- Assemble the Bridle to the Approximate Size of your Current Bridle, if you don’t have one make up the bridle to the centre holes but do not put the keepers through so you can adjust it when on the horse
- If you are concerned about how your horse may react have an assistant with you and make an initial sizing over a headcollar first which you can then remove to make smaller final adjustments.
- When the bridle is on adjust the browband so that it sits just below the horses ears each side, ensure that the browband is set such that it doesn’t pull the headpiece into the back of the ears.
- Adjust the throat latch (strap that goes under the chin) so that you can fit four fingers (sideways) between the strap & the horses cheeks, but no more.
- Adjust and fasten the noseband so that the noseband is neither too tight or too loose around the horses nose. You should be able to fit two fingers in between the horses nose and the noseband.
- If your bridle has an additional flash strap, secure this around the horses nose so that the buckle rests a few centimeters under the tab that attaches it to the main part of the noseband. This is to ensure that the buckle doesn’t pinch the sensitive area around the mouth.
- Once you are happy with the fit, secure the strap ends into the keepers to ensure they don’t flap around. If any of the buckles are tightened on either the top or the bottom hole, then you should consider changing that part. Otherwise follow the checklist below.
Follow this simple checklist to ensure you get the right bridle fit for your horse.
- Does the browband look too small, tight across the horses forehead, or pull the headpiece inwards so that it pinches the horses ears. Or does it look too large – check to see if you can fit more than two fingers underneath.
- Can you fit 4 fingers (sideways on) underneath the throatlatch (strap that goes under the chin) when its done up around the second or third hole. If you cannot achieve this fitting with the headpiece you have, you should consider changing that part.
- Do the Cheekpieces sit straight along the top edge of the horse’s cheekbones, without cutting into the cheeks or interfering with the eyes. Does the bit sit in the horses mouth with no more than a couple of wrinkles. If the bit sits too low or too high, then you may need to change this part.
- Does the noseband sit on the nose as it is designed (described above) and are the straps that come down the side of the face, in line with the cheekpieces and with the end of the strap sitting neatly inside the keepers. If not then you should consider changing this part.
- Does the Flash strap (if you have one) do up so that there is around 5cm or less left on the end of the strap once tightened. If not then you may need to consider changing this part.
We hope that you have found this guide useful. If you are finding measuring a little tricky or would like a second opinion on the fit, you can always email us a picture of your horse wearing the bridle (close ups preferable) and ask our thoughts on it. We’re more than happy to help. You can email us on [email protected] Our main aim is that both you and your horse or pony are 100% happy with your purchase and we’re here to help.