Learn more about Bridle

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A bridle is a piece of equipment used to control a horse. The bridle fits over the horse's head, and has the purpose of holding the bit in the horse's mouth (the exception to this is a hackamore, or other type of bitless bridle).


[edit] Parts of the Bridle

Image:English bridle particular.jpg
The crownpiece runs over the horse's poll, and the browband over the forehead.
  • Crownpiece: The crownpiece or crown (headpiece - UK) goes over the horse's head and rests just behind the animal's ears. It is the main strap that holds the bridle in place and prevents the bit from slipping down. [1], [2]
  • Cheekpieces: Cheekpieces attach to either side of the crownpieces and run down the side of the horse's face, across the cheek. They attach to the bit rings. In a double bridle, two pairs of cheekpieces are used. [3]
  • Throatlatch: the throatlatch or throatlash (UK) is usually part of the same piece of leather as the crownpiece. It runs from the horse's right ear, under his throat, and attaches below the left ear. The main purpose of the throatlatch is to prevent the bridle from coming over the horse's head. However, many horsemen agree that the throatlatch is relatively unimportant. It is important, when bridling a horse, not to tighten the throatlatch too much, as it will place pressure on the animal's windpipe and constrict his breathing. [4]
  • Browband: The crownpiece actually runs through the browband. The browband runs from just under one ear of the horse, across his forehead, to just under the other ear. [5] Western bridle often do not have a browband, or have a browband that simply encircles one ear. [6] In certain sports, such as dressage, decorative browbands have become fashionable.
  • Noseband: the noseband encircles the nose of the horse. It is often used to keep the animal's mouth closed, or to attach other pieces or equipment, such as martingales. [7] [8]
  • Reins: The reins of a bridle attach to the bit, below the attachment for the cheekpieces. The reins are the rider's link to the horse, and are seen on every bridle. Reins are often laced, braided, have stops, or are made of rubber or some other tacky material to provide extra grip. [9][10]

[edit] Types of Bridles

Image:Bridle without bit.jpg
A bridle without a bit. It can be used to tie a horse too

  • English type or Snaffle bridle: the "English-type" bridle, or "snaffle bridle", is most commonly seen in English-type riding. Despite the name, a snaffle bridle may be used not only with a snaffle bit, but also with almost all other types of bits, including pelhams, kimberwickes, gag bits, and curb bits. The English bridle is almost always used with some type of noseband.
  • Western type: used for western riding, this bridle usually does not have a noseband. Many western bridles also lack browbands, or have a browband that only encircles one ear. [11]
  • Double bridles: double bridles use two bits at once, and require the use of two sets of reins. Double bridles are usually only seen used in upper level dressage, and for showing in certain countries. [12]
  • Bridles without a bit: can be used with an Hackamore or even without any other control device[13]. Various bitless designs still give good communication to the horse while generally offering more comfort. Some bitless designs are also often referred to as "side pulls".

[edit] Fitting a bridle

Also see bit and noseband for more information on fitting the bridle.

In order to effectively and safely use a bridle, proper techniques to fitting it to the horse need to be followed, and the length of each piece of the bridle needs to be individually adjusted to fit the horse's head. The width of the bit needs to be adjusted to the width of the horse's mouth so it is not too wide nor too narrow. When fitting the cheekpieces, their length should be adjusted so that the bit is held neither too high nor too low, to ensure good communication between horse and rider. The adjustment of the noseband varies, depending on the type used. However, it is generally adjusted so that it is snug. The browband should not rub the front of the horses’ ears, and also should not pull the bridle forward so that it rubs on the back of the ears. When tightening the throatlatch, the width of four fingers should be able to fit between the throatlatch and the horses’ cheek. Without properly fitting the bridle to the horses’ head, the horse may be uncomfortable, and poor fitting may also result in lack of control while riding or unclear communication.

[edit] Tying

Despite what is commonly seen in Western movies, horses should not be tied with the reins of their bridle to a solid object, as they could pull back and severely injure their mouth. This is also true for cross-tying a horse. Should a rider need to tie his horse, it is best to either remove the bridle and put on a halter, or to put a halter on over the bridle and tie the horse using the halter only.

[edit] References

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