A bridle is a critical piece of tack that is used to control a horse's face, mouth, and neck. Bridles vary considerably depending on discipline and handler preference.
The Weymouth bridle, also called a double or full bridle, is a bridle with two bits and four reins. The first bit is a bradoon, similar to a modified snaffle bit. The second bit is a simple curb bit. The Weymouth is practical for riding, and competing in dressage and other formal equestrian events such as eventing. Advanced riders should only use the double bridle. In the right hands, this bridle can enhance performance; in the wrong hands it can seriously damage the horse's reigning ability.
The Pelham bridle, used by English riders, is a bridle with one bit and two sets of reins. The bit is a cross between a curb bit and a snaffle bit with double rings on each side for attaching both sets of reins. Because the bit's shank puts pressure on the horse, most refer to it as a curb bit. English events and for English pleasure riders use the Pelham. Because this bridle is less severe than the Weymouth but still has two reins, it is often used in place of the Weymouth. Many beginner cross-country and eventing riders use Pelham bits as well as polo players.
The English snaffle bridle is the most uncomplicated bridle. It consists of one bit and one set of reins. This bridle is seen in many English disciplines as well as with hunter jumpers.. The English snaffle bridle always has a cavesson noseband and, despite the name, is used with many different types of bits. Some bits it can be used for include, the snaffle bit, kimberwicks, gag bits, and curb bits.
Common Western Bridles
The common western bridle is used in almost all western riding events as well as pleasure and trail riding. This bridle is remarkably straightforward and normally consists of a headstall with a throatlatch and one bit. The bit can be either a snaffle or a curb. The most common bit, however, is the curb. The common western bridle can be used with closed or split reins. Competitions such as roping or barrel racing compete with closed reins, while most ranch, show, and pleasure riders’ use split reins. Other reins such as mecate and romal are sometimes seen with a common western bridle.
Split Ear or One Ear Bridle
The western split ear bridle has pretty much the same uses as the common bridle. The main difference between the two bridles is that instead of one leather strap going behind the ears, the split ear bridles strap is split so the leather strap comes in front of one ear. Some split ear bridles are simple leather straps for pleasure and trail riding others, however, have elaborate silver and leather detailing for events such as western pleasure.
The hackamore is a bitless bridle that controls the horse by its nose. There are many variations of the hackamore the most common, however, includes a bosal that encircles the horses nose. A bosal requires the use of mecate reins tied to the bosal under the horse's chin using a fiador knot. The hackamore is commonly used to train your colts but is seen, occasionally, in western showing.