It is essential for new riders to learn how to properly put both a saddle and a bridle on their horse. The bridle is a tool that consists of the headstall, cheekpieces, noseband, bit and reins. It is used to allow the rider to direct and control the horse's movements. In order to be effective, the bridle has to be put on the horse correctly and properly adjusted to fit the horse's head.
Brush the horse's head and face down with a face brush to remove any dirt or other debris that could become trapped between the bridle and the horse's skin during riding. Trapped dirt can irritate the horse's skin and even create sores in extreme cases.
Remove the horse's halter. Restrain the horse by re-buckling the halter around the horse’s neck. If your mount is well-trained, you can either put the reins over your horse's head and around the neck, or loop a lead rope around its neck.
Position your body so that your horse’s head is over your right shoulder and your back is against its chest and neck. Place your right arm around the horse's head so that your hand is between the ears near the poll. Position the bridle in your right hand so that you are holding it by the crown, or headstall. Make sure the bridle is facing forward and properly aligned with the general shape of the horse's head.
Support the bit with your left hand and gently press it upwards into the horse's mouth. Most horses are trained to accept the bit when it is presented. If the horse does not open its mouth to accept the bit, you can slide one of your fingers into the corner of the horse's mouth into the area of the gum where there are no teeth, called the bars, and apply a slight pressure against the tongue and gum. This should encourage the horse to open its mouth. When the horse opens its teeth, slide the bit into its mouth with your left hand.
Position the crown piece of the headstall behind the horse's ears. Make sure the browband is positioned in such a way that it is below the ears and above the eyes, going across the horse's brow, and centered in the hollow below its ears.
Check the position of the bit and adjust the cheekpieces if the bit appears to be too tight or hanging loose in the horse's mouth. The bit should be positioned against the sides of the horse's mouth, creating no more than a couple of wrinkles in the skin in the corner of the horse's mouth.
Fasten the noseband, if the bridle has one. The noseband is typically a feature of English bridles and should be fastened so that you can comfortably fit two fingers in between the leather and the skin.
Fasten the throatlatch, if the bridle has one. The throatlatch goes around the horse's throat and should be fastened so that you can comfortably fit between two and four fingers between the leather and the horse's skin.
Once all buckles are adjusted properly, you should be ready to use the bridle.