bridling your horse ensures effective communication in the show pen

Bridling Your Horse —Adjustments Made Right!

All great rides start with correctly bridling your horse and assuring the bridle is adjusted to fit. Follow along in the video as Dennis Moreland of Dennis Moreland Tack visits with Clay Johns of Clay Johns Cutting Horses, Millsap TX, about the steps to take when bridling to help your horse be relaxed and comfortable, and, your bridle to function like it should.

Clay advises to start by untying your horse, so he doesn’t get in a bind while you’re bridling. Clay says, “draping the lead rope over your arm so it’s not dragging on the ground can help prevent getting tripped by the rope if your horse moves.” Next, unbuckle the halter, slip it down the horse’s nose and slide it back on his neck and buckle it on his neck. That way, Clay says, “if he moves away, I can still keep ahold of him.” Next, “I try to get everything straight in my bridle and with my reins” says Clay. “That way I’m not fumbling with it while I’m trying to put it on.”

Start by putting the back of your left hand under the crown of the headstall and sliding your right hand behind the ears so you’re ready to grasp the crown. Next put your left hand under the mouthpiece and hold the curb strap back with your thumb. Carefully slide the mouthpiece in the horse’s mouth and as you do, simultaneously pull the headstall up with your right hand. Slide the headstall crown behind the ears and place the right ear in the earpiece on single eared bridles.

Before I ride, Clay says “I check the fit to see if my headstall is adjusted the way I want it. I need to be able to lift it up off his head enough to be able to get my thumb under it, maybe a little bit more. Then I look to see how far in the corners of his mouth it is.”

“Then I come back to my curb” Clay says. “I try to see how quick my release and my pull are on the curb I like to adjust it so it’s not tight and there’s no pull on the horse as long as there’s no tension on the reins. If it’s too loose the bit comes all the way back and really does no good. If it’s too tight there’s no release to it and I don’t get a good response from my release when I’m riding” says Clay.

A good rule of thumb: you should be able to slip a finger or 2 between the curb and chin if adjusted correctly. If you’ve made an adjustment in your curb, always check before getting on by pulling the reins back to see that the curb contacts the chin within 25 to 30 degrees of shank movement.

After the adjustments are made, you’re ready to take your halter off and put your off-side rein over the neck. Clay advises to put a little slack in the rein, “I don’t want to pull it tight and cause the horse to back up.” Bring the near side rein up to meet the off-side rein and “make sure they’re fairly even” advises Clay, “so you can get on and the horse can stand still.”

Riding with your bridle properly adjusted will help make your rides safer and keep your horse happy, relaxed, and ready to give you his best.

Handmade bridles are available in a variety of styles at Dennis Moreland Tack. Headstalls, bits, curbs, and reins are available in an even wider selection so you can choose the parts you’d like for your bridle! To discuss bridles, write [email protected] or call 817-312-5305.

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