How To Bridle A Horse - Page 2 of 2
This page covers opening the horse's mouth, finishing bridling, and how to remove a bridle.
Bridling, Step Three
Use your thumb to encourage the horse to open his mouth to accept the bit. Do this by sliding your thumb into the interdental space, as shown in the photo.
Horses that have been bridled a great deal will open their mouth when your thumb slides in. If the horse does not open its mouth, you can wiggle your thumb around or gently tap the tongue or gums as a reminder of what he is supposed to do.
Below: Slide your thumb into the interdental space to encourage the horse to open its mouth.
Headstalls from Etsy. Article continues below.
Bridling, Step Four
When the horse opens its mouth, raise your right hand up and back (toward the horse's ears) to lift the bit inside the mouth and past the front (incisor) teeth.
Use your left hand to guide the bit, and to keep the curb strap (if the bridle has one) behind the chin.
As in the previous step, be careful not to bump the horse's teeth with the bit as it enters the mouth.
Below: The bit is just entering the horse's mouth. The fingers of the left hand are guiding the curb strap and the bit, and the right hand is slowly lifting the bridle.
Bridling, Step Five
Now slide the crown of the bridle over the horse's ears. It's usually easiest to do one ear at a time.
Do NOT scrunch or smash the horse's ears in this step - they don't like it, and it could cause them to pull away, or hit you in the face with their head. Instead, fold the ears straight forward or straight back.
Below: The bridle in the photo below is a style with a brow band. Some bridles are a "one ear" or "two ear" style, meaning they have small loops for the ears to fit through instead of the brow band. When bridling, regardless of the style of bridle, fold the ears forward or back to fit behind the brow band or through the ear loops, and avoid smashing the ears.
After the horse's ears are in front of the crown, straighten and neaten the forelock, making sure there aren't any tangled hairs.
It's also a good idea at this point to just step back for a second and look things over, making sure there are not any buckles or cheek pieces too close to the eyes, etc. It's also a good idea to step to the other side of the horse and make sure everything looks OK on that side, too.
When you're sure everything is fine, buckle the throatlatch (if the bridle has one), remove the halter from around the neck (if you left it on) and you're finished!
- If the weather is cold, warm the bit before putting it into the horse's mouth. You can take the bridle inside a warm building or vehicle, or simple slide it beneath your coat close to your body for a few minutes.
- If you have to reach way high to bridle your horse do the obvious thing and stand on something secure to make yourself taller during bridling. You can also lead the horse to a low spot. In addition, you can train your horse to lower its head on command.
Removing A Horse's Bridle
- Plan ahead on how you are going to control the horse when the bridle is removed. For example, you can loop the reins around the horse's neck, or buckle a halter around his neck.
- To remove a bridle, first unfasten any throatlatches, etc.
- Then use your right hand to grasp the crown of the bridle between the horse's ears, and push it forward over the ears. While doing this you can put your left hand on the horse's cheek to keep the horse from swinging its face into yours, or you can use your left hand to help bend the ears forward.
- When the crown of the bridle has cleared the
ears lower the bridle carefully, giving the horse an opportunity to open
its mouth so the bit can be lowered slowly and gently back out over the
- Unbridling a horse too fast could cause you to bang the bit into the horse's teeth. This is painful to the horse which is not only unkind, the horse could react by throwing his head and possibly hitting you in the face and causing serious injury.
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