Did you know that bridle fit is every bit as important as saddle fit? If your horse’s bridle fits poorly, he’ll be uncomfortable, distracted, and unable to do his best. As an added bonus to properly fitting your bridle, your horse will also look his best while wearing it! Follow these simple rules for fitting an English horse bridle, and you’ll have a happier, better looking mount as a result.
As improperly adjusted pieces of English tack go, nosebands are among the most frequent problems. Too tight, and your horse will be feeling pressure on his face for the duration of your ride, and that will lead to problems. It might even be dangerous for you, as he may ultimately try to take evasive action to get away from the constant pressure.
In general, your noseband should be placed at a position located two fingers’ width below the horse’s cheekbones. The supportive strap that suspends the noseband behind the ears should be about half an inch behind the cheekbones, about in line with the bridle’s main cheekpieces. On a non-crank (standard) noseband, tighten it to the point where you can fit two fingers between the jaw and the leather. Any tighter is too tight, and any looser, the noseband will flop around and distract your horse.
If you use a crank noseband, tighten it so that it touches your horse’s face all the way around, but no more. You should not see any wrinkles or notice any points where the leather is digging into the horse’s flesh.
The throatlatch should be tightened just enough so that the bridle will not come off the horse’s head. You should be able to fit a closed fist between your horse’s throat and the leather. Too tight, and it will interfere with his action and his breathing.
The browband should be positioned so that the crown of the horse bridle fits comfortable behind the base of the ears, without rubbing. Your horse should be able to swivel his ears in all directions. At the same time, a browband that is too loose will either droop and possible get in front of the horse’s eyes or gap up in the middle of his forehead.
Cheekpieces and Buckles
Adjust the cheekpieces so that you can see one or two wrinkles at the corners of your horse’s mouth. This will ensure that the bit is placed in the proper position. If possible, adjust the buckles so that they are within an inch of the horse’s eye. If they are in any other position, the bridle you are using is probably the wrong size for your horse. Measuring his head before ordering can help ensure that you are ordering the correct size. If your horse seems to be between sizes, get the larger size and have it shortened once it arrives.
Your horse bridle should be comfortably snug, kind of like your favorite pair of jeans. Once you have adjusted the bridle, it should fit well for its lifetime.