English bridles place pressure on the horse's poll, nose and mouth to allow the rider to guide the mount's direction and pace. A gentle pull of the reins, combined with leg aids, tells a horse to collect itself for a jump or be prepared to change gaits. After a ride or before a competition, equestrians should preserve the bridle leather by pulling it totally apart, and cleaning and oiling individual pieces, recommends Susan E. Harris in "The U.S. Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship." Learning how to put the bridle back together correctly allows the rider to save money on new, expensive components.
Lay all the parts of your bridle flat on a table.
Pick up the crownpiece, holding it so that the two varied straps are on your left and the two short, even straps are on your right. The straps on your right will be of different widths.
Feed the two right straps through one loop of the browband. Turn the browband and feed the same straps through the other loop. Stop feeding just above the two varied-length straps on the left; adjust the browband so that it sits horizontally underneath an upside-down, "U"-shaped length of the crownpiece.
Push the long strap of the cavesson up through the left browband loop, underneath the crownpiece, and down through the right crownpiece loop. Adjust the cavesson so that the noseband sits perpendicular to the browband; buckle the ends of the cavesson together. Place the end of the cavesson into its keeper.
Buckle one cheekpiece to the wider right strap of the crownpiece using the second or third hole from the top. Ensure that the bit billet is turned in toward the middle of the bridle. Place the end of the strap into its keeper.
Buckle the second cheekpiece to the shorter of the crownpiece straps on your left using the same hole as the left cheekpiece. Make sure that the bit billet is turned in and place the end of the strap into the keeper.
Pull the long strap (the throatlatch) of the crownpiece on the left around to the right side of the bridle; buckle it to the thin, unbuckled crownpiece strap.
Hold your bit so that it forms a "U" in your hands. Place the right ring of the bit into the open end of the right cheekpiece and secure the billet into its keeper. Attach the left bit ring to the left cheekpiece in the same fashion.
Fasten the two reins together at the buckle. Attach the end of the left rein to the left ring of the bit and lock the rein billet. Affix the right rein to the right bit ring the same way.
- "The U.S. Pony Club Manual of Horsemanship"; Susan E. Harris; 1997
- ASPCA: Riding Equipment: The English Bridle
- OSU Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources; Bit Selection for Riding and Training Horses; David W. Freeman
- Hang your bridle on a chair or doorknob as you put it together to better visualise how the bridle parts fit together on your horse's head.
- When hanging your bridle in your stall or tack room, wrap it in the traditional hunter style to protect the leather. Place the rein buckle in the middle of the crownpiece, and fasten the noseband around the looped reins without buckling it. Pull the buckle of the loose throatlatch from left to right around the cheekpieces in front of the bridle, and continue pulling around the back of the bridle. Once the buckle reaches the front of the bridle the second time, fasten the throatlatch to its strap without buckling.
- Ensure that you fit your bit on the bridle so that you see a "U" shape when the bit hangs down. If the bit is placed on backwards, the "W" shape formed by the joints of the mouthpiece may harm your horse's mouth or tongue and cause pain.
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