In horsemanship, there is a long history in both the tack and the technique. A few basic pieces of tack are absolutely necessary for any task that you wish your animal to perform. These include the saddle, stirrups and English bridle. The bridle provides much of the control and communication between the rider and her mount. While different configurations are best suited for different tasks, each bridle follows a basic design.
The basic English bridle is composed of a series of straps that go around the head of the horse. The main strap or headpiece goes around the head, resting behind the ears. The other straps attach to the headpiece. These include the cheekpieces, throatlash, browband, reins and bit. Some bitless bridles also have a noseband that provides the control in place of the bit. Other things can also be attached to the bridle depending on the riding circumstances. These include bit hobbles, blinders and even ornaments.
There are several styles of English bridle and each is suited to a different task. The most common style used in most casual English riding is known as the snaffle bridle. The Pelham bridle is also well known and features a single bit and two reins. There is also the double or Weymouth bridle which has two bits and two sets of reins. This is a more formal rein and is most often seen in dressage competitions and horse shows. Finally, a rider can use a bitless bridle or hackamore. This design eliminates the bit entirely and instead uses a nosestrap to provide the pressure needed to maneuver the animal.
Like many things in the equestrian discipline, the English bridle is custom fitted to the horse that wears it. There is no one size fits all approach as each horse is different in size and shape. The bridle relies on gentle and precise pressure and an ill fitting bridle can make the horse uncomfortable and also lead to a confusion in communication. Fitting the horse’s bridle properly is, therefore, extremely important.
Prices vary among styles and brands of bridles. Most establishments that sell horse tack should either carry or be familiar with the most popular brands. Some of these are Vespucci, Keiffer, Passier and Stubben. It’s a good idea to check competitors to determine the best price for a rider’s particular needs. With the proper bridle, the rider can ensure they are always in tune with their mount, facilitating better communication between the horse and rider.