-The most important question you need to ask when buying a bridle is does it fit? If the proportions of your horse’s head don’t match that of standard sizes, you need a range that will let you mix and match.
For instance, some Thoroughbreds have relatively small muzzles and need full-size headpieces, but cob-size nosebands. Similarly, many native ponies have broad foreheads and need full-size browbands.
Some ranges are now available in mix and match options, and they include the Dressage Deluxe collection, made especially for the brand by Jeffries.
- Bridle fit is as important as saddle fit. Fitting guidelines are that the browband should be long enough not to pinch the base of the ears, the noseband shouldn’t rub the facial bones and there should be at least a hand’s width between the throatlatch and the face.
- Designs that give a wider bearing surface at the poll have become popular. These are made to allow the noseband straps, which go up and over the head, to pass over or through the headpiece, rather than underneath it.
- Your bridle should complement your horse or pony’s head. Workmanlike heads need workmanlike bridles with flat nosebands and browbands, while fine heads are suited to finer leatherwork – though it should never be flimsy.
- Don’t choose a noseband because everyone else uses it, choose it because it helps your horse’s way of going. Many horses go happily in a plain cavesson, but if you need to use one that fastens below the bit as well as above it, you have several options. All are designed to discourage the horse from opening his mouth too wide, not to fasten it shut: a noseband that is too tight will only cause discomfort and resistance and if a horse can’t relax his jaw, he can’t work on the bit correctly.
- Flash nosebands have a fairly vague action, which some horses prefer. Choose a bridle with a substantial enough noseband not to be dragged down when the bottom strap is fastened.
- Drop nosebands are back in favour and have a more definite action. A high ring Grakle is often a good bet for a young horse who is teething, as there is no pressure on the cheek teeth. Whatever you use, check competition rule books if necessary, as not all designs are permitted in all disciplines.
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