Shop for a western bridle, and you’ll be faced with an incredible array of choices. So, which one is best? Much depends on what type of activities you and your horse will be participating in, along with your personal preference.
Selecting the Right Size
The first step in choosing a western bridle is to decide which size to shop for. Luckily, most western bridles are adjustable and will fit nearly any horse. If you’re looking for a pony or draft horse bridle, be sure to make that distinction, since these equines require special sizes. Finally, if you’re riding a small-statured horse, you might find that a cob sized western bridle fits best.
Picking a Material
While most bridles are made of leather, you can easily find a synthetic western bridle if you prefer the look and durability of a material such as nylon. If showing your horse, consider something a bit fancier such as special hair on hide styles or a leather western bridle embellished with silver, crystals, or special tooled leather details.
Choose a Western Bridle Style
When compared with the snaffle bridles and double bridles commonly used for English riding, Western bridles often have a minimalistic look. Western show bridles feature configurations that are similar to everyday bridles used for western riding, but they are much flasher than the kind used for taking a trail ride, participating in barrel racing, or taking part in other events in which the horse’s role is highly athletic. Basic styles to consider include:
- Full Browband Western Bridle: This type of bridle features a headpiece that runs horizontally across the horse’s forehead.
- Futurity Knot Western Bridle: The futurity knot bridle is similar to the full browband western bridle, but it has a decorative knot in the middle of the browband.
- Split Browband Western Bridle: A split eared browband has two browpieces, one of which goes around the base of each of the horse’s ears.
- One-Eared Browband Western Bridle: The one-eared browband offers a minimalistic look, with just a single browpiece that goes around the base of one of the horse’s ears.
- Bosal: While you can technically go bitless and use a bosal or hackamore with any type of Western bridle, a bosal looks best when used with a Bosal hanger, which is a simple strap that rests behind the horse’s ears. Mecate reins are a must when riding with a bosal!
Unlike English bridles, Western bridles normally don’t have nosebands. Many styles do have throatlatches, and most come with matching split reins. At SaddleOnline, the majority of Western bridles come complete with reins and a matching breastcollar.
Select a Bit
Just about any bit will work with a western bridle. You can choose a traditional curb bit, a snaffle bit, or a bitless hackamore, which works via pressure on the horse’s nose rather than inside its mouth.
Once your bridle arrives, be sure to fit it to your horse correctly before setting out for a ride. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and conditioning, and your new western bridle will serve you well for years to come.