Here at Elevator Equestrian, we love leafing through our favourite weekly and monthly horsey magazines, and particularly enjoy reading about horse welfare and comfort and its impact on performance at competitions. As our brand was founded on the principle that horse comfort should come first, we firmly believe that a happy horse will always perform better than one who is in pain or anxious. Elevator’s founder Lorraine worked tirelessly to find out why her beloved mare wasn’t happy to be ridden and their discovery has helped to transform bridle design and made countless horses more comfortable.
We’ve spotted a few pieces in Horse & Hound about horse comfort and wellness recently which were interesting, including one which pondered the revolutionary idea that horses need to be able to touch as well as see each other to be happy. The researcher managed to persuade a police force to remove the bars between their horses’ stables and – in their words! – after ‘a ruckus’ the horses were much calmer on patrol than before. Could contact like that be key to stopping ‘naughty’ behaviours like spooking?
There have also been several pieces focusing on pressure, pain and performance rather than behaviour which have caught our eye. One looked at the damage caused by bitting and found that a disturbing 30% of the horses and ponies surveyed in one study had current or past injuries to their mouths from bits. While more attention is being paid to mouth conformation and the action of what look like ‘kind’ bits on the bars, lips and tongue when a contact is taken, there’s clearly more work to do.
There was also a long vet clinic article looking at how to detect the subtle signs of pain so that we can act promptly and promote better performance and longevity at the higher levels. The article looked at the hints a horse might give that they have neck or back pain caused by a poorly fitting saddle, as well as common injuries and conditions seen in sports horses. It was a really interesting read but one thing it didn’t mention was pain or issues caused by bad bridle fit! We’ve known about the possible consequences of poor saddle fit for some time, but it’s now recognised that a badly fitting bridle can cause myriad issues. Some might be what you expect – headshaking, unwillingness to be bridled – whereas others are more surprising, such as shortened stride length and poor hindlimb engagement. If you’re aiming for peak performance in any discipline, surely you would be trying to avoid any of those and make sure your horse’s bridle is 100% comfortable?
At Elevator we try to share as much information about the subject as possible so that our followers and customers can make informed decisions about bridles and nosebands and keep a lookout for problems. Make sure you follow us on social media to keep up to date with new research and information around bridle fit and design, and take a closer look at our original Elevator Performance Bridle to learn more.