A correctly fitting bridle is as essential as your saddle fit for horse comfort, but it can so often be overlooked. If a bridle is too tight or hasn’t been carefully fitted, it can impinge on the delicate bones and nerves which make up the facial structure. It’s easy to see the shape of the bones in a horse’s face, and therefore ensure bridles aren’t putting pressure on them, but impossible to observe the thousands of nerves which are present too. There’s also a lack of understanding of the importance of headpiece fit on the sensitive poll and ear area. A tight or poorly fitting bridle which puts undue pressure on any of these areas will cause discomfort to some degree – how the horse reacts depends on them.
Some symptoms, such as head shaking, unwillingness to have the bridle put on and ignoring aids, might look like bad behaviour when they are simply signs that the horse trying to rid itself of discomfort. Just as concerning is the emerging evidence of the impact poor bridle fit has on the horse’s whole body and how it moves. Pressure on the nerves of the face can lead to shortening of gait, reduced range of motion in joints and unwillingness to engage the topline.
Owners may automatically think their pony, cob or horse will automatically require the corresponding size, but head sizes can vary enormously between breeds, so a more tailored approach is sensible. If you’re starting the process of buying a new bridle, we have some tips to help you measure your existing one so that you can be confident you get a perfect fit.
- Put the bridle on but leave the noseband and throat latch undone while you check the bit height. The bit should sit comfortably in the corners of the mouth and produce just one wrinkle in the lips.
- The noseband should hang so that when it’s done up, it is 2cm (or two finger-widths) below the cheekbones. When a cavesson noseband is done up (with the buckle at the back, sitting between the two jaw bones), you should be able to fit two fingers underneath it.
- The browband should sit comfortably in the slight depression below the horse’s ears and not be so loose it bumps their head as they move, but not tight at all. The aim is for it to lie flat without having any impact on the position of the headpiece.
- Finally, do up the throat latch and ensure you can fit a fist between the leather strap and the horse’s cheek.
If you’re not sure your existing bridle is exactly the right fit, drop us a line. We create totally bespoke bridles for our customers and can offer a wide range of advice to those who want to ensure their off-the-shelf bridle fits their horse perfectly. Elevator bridles are designed to eliminate pressure points and ensure your horse can work without pain or discomfort from a bridle.