A rope bridle is one way to train your horse as a more gentle alternative to a metal bit. The pressure created by the reins on either side of the nose band will act as the bit does in a normal bridle. Rope bridles can be challenging to make, sometimes requiring the mastery of a number of knots. With some practice, however, you will have an inexpensive way to make halters and bridles in custom sizes and colours. Because this rope bridle design is adjustable, it can be used on most horses.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 15 feet of rope (cotton or nylon)
- Friction tape (if using cotton rope)
- Lighter (if using nylon rope)
- Permanent marker
- Tape measure
Select the type of rope you plan to use. Soft cotton or nylon, measuring 9/16 of an inch in diameter, are recommended. Nylon comes in a wider variety of colours and styles and also doesn't fray as easily. It is important that the rope is twisted and not braided.
Measure 15 feet of rope and make a clean, square cut with your knife, leaving all the end fibres the same length. On each end, measure a half inch from the end and either wrap the end in friction tape if using cotton rope, or burn the ends with a lighter until they are melted together if using nylon rope. This keeps the ends from fraying. If you are using friction tape, be sure to wrap the ends two to three times and make sure to wrap the tape as tightly as you can.
Pick an end of the rope to start with. Measure 15 inches from the end and make a mark with your permanent marker. This will be the nose band of your bridle. At the point that you marked, make a gap in the rope by twisting the fibres apart. Take the long end of the rope and thread it through the gap that you've made.
Pull the long end through the gap until it creates a loop twice the width of the rope.
Twist the fibres just outside the loop to create another gap. Thread the short end of the rope through the gap and pull it tight.
Pick up the short end of the rope in one hand and place your other hand about two to three inches away. Untwist the three inch section of rope and push your hands together so the separate strands of rope create small loops. Work the loops into a straight line.
Feed the long end of the rope through the small loops from right to left. This creates an adjustable headstall.
Pass the long end of the rope through the loop you created earlier. This step finishes your halter. The next step is to add reins to your halter so it can be used as a bridle. Since this halter design also has a lead built into the side of it, you can either loop the lead around your horses neck and tie it to the nose band or, for split reins, attach another length of rope to the nose band of the halter.
Tips and warnings
- You should only ride your horse with a rope or bitless bridle if it has been trained to be ridden this way.
- A horse should not be left in the field with this type of halter on because a horse cannot escape it if the halter becomes caught.
- Rope halters and bridles should not be used to tie a horse because the ropes can cut into the horses skin if they try to pull.
- Rope halters and bridles should not be used on foals because their skin may be too sensitive.
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