Fitting bridles

If a martingale or breast plate with martingale attachment us used, it makes sense to put the bridle on first.

When putting a different bridle on, or putting a bridle on a different horse for the first time, it is worth holding the bridle up alongside the horse’s head as this will let you know if any major adjustments need to be made before putting on the bridle. It will also give you a rough idea if the bit will fit.

Main points

Main points for fitting a snaffle bridle

  • The bit should be the right width for the horse’s mouth – too narrow and it will ‘pinch’, too wide and it can be pulled from side to side which will not allow the centre of the bit to lie in the correct position, making it not as effective and uncomfortable for the horse. Normally, 0.5cm at each side of the mouth is fine.
  • The bit should be at the correct height - 2 wrinkles should show at the corners of the mouth for the snaffle bridle. More than this is too high and uncomfortable, Less than this is too low and the bit will be uncomfortable and less effective. The following video shows how to correctly fit a bit to a horse's mouth.
  • The throat lash should be adjusted so that there is enough room for a hand to fit between the horse and the throat lash.
  • The noseband fit will depend on the type of noseband, generally cavessons – height - 2 fingers width below the cheekbone and you should be able to slip two fingers width between the noseband and the horse.
  • A noseband should never be fitted so low that it restricts the horse’s breathing
  • The browband should lie flat against the horse’s forehead. Too big and it will flop forward, too small and it will pinch the horse’s ears and the bridle will more prone to slipping off over the horse's ears. The following video shows how to put on the bridle.


Types of martingales

There are many types of martingale; the most commonly used is the running martingale. Watch the following video on how to correctly fit a running martingale.

The double bridle

The double bridle

The double bridle has 2 bits – ‘bridoon’ (snaffle bit but with smaller cheek rings) and the curb bit.

Main points of fitting a double bridle.

  • The bridoon should lie above the curb bit.
  • The curbchain should lie flat and generally come into effect when the curb bit shanks are at 45 degrees.
  • The curb bit will also have a lip strap attached to it, which is threaded through the central link on the curb chain and attached to the other side of the bit. This prevents the ‘shanks’ of the curb bit from moving about too much, it also prevents the curb chain from getting lost if it becomes unattached.


How to fit a pelham

This video shows how to fit a pelham. This bit can be used with 2 reins or if a ‘rounding, is used with one rein.

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