BRIDLE BASICS 101
Tacking up our "model" equines can be a challenge
with all those little-teeny straps and buckles...it can be very
difficult to get the tack in the proper place. We'll start with
the "western" bridle. The entire headpiece used on a horse...headstall,
bit, chin strap and reins...is called the bridle.
There are four common types of western headstall "styles" used...one
ear, two ear, browband and bosal hanger. "One-ear" and "two-ear"
headstalls refer to the small leather loops on the crown portion of the
bridle that go around the horse's ears. A "browband" headstall
has a leather strap that goes across the forehead of the horse rather
than the ear loops (a "futurity" headstall is a variation of
the "browband" type headstall with a knot tied in the center
of the browband). A "bosal" hanger refers to the headstall that
is used to hold a "bosal" on the horse's head (can be a one-ear,
two-ear, browband or just a "straight" headstall...no ear loops
The "one-ear" and
"two-ear" headstalls are the most commonly seen in the western
show ring today. There are different "trends" over the years
as to the popularity of the different types of headstalls...however...they
are all LEGAL!!
There seems to be some difficulty
in putting the bridles on the models correctly. It's very important that
you check "each and every" detail to make sure they are done
There are three types
of "western" reins...split (used with snaffle and curb bits),
romel (used with curb bits) and mecate (used with a bosal). Split reins
are the most commonly seen rein in the western pleasure classes at this
time. The numbers are about evenly split in the trail classes between
"split" and "romel" reins. Romel reins are also commonly
used in working cowhorse classes. The different types of reins are each
HELD in the hand in it's own unique way.
Most model horses in
the western classes are shown with a "curb" type bit. If you
choose to use a "snaffle" type bit...then you must identify
your entry as a "junior" horse (5 years or under) to make the
The placement of the bit on
the model in the correct position can be confusing at times. The part
of the bit where the "mouthpiece" meets the side "cheek/shank"
piece goes right in the corner of the models mouth. The red arrow
designates the spot the bit should go in the corner of the horse's mouth!!
Curb straps are normally
made of all leather...or leather and chain. Chin straps should lie loosely
in the chin groove on the back of the horse's lower lip (unless the rider
is stopping a reining/roping horse or perhaps turning a WCH...then the
bit is at a more severe angle thereby causing the chin strap to be snug
against the jaw).
Common Mistakes Made When
Bridling a Model Horse
We'll start at the top of the
headstall with the errors shown in this picture:
MISTAKE 1. The crown strap of the headstall is not lying flat on the horse's
poll BEHIND the ears...it has moved up and forward...now resting ON the
MISTAKE 2. Mistake 1 has caused the ear-pieces to now be UP in the air
rather than lying FLAT against the horse's head.
MISTAKE 3. Mistake 1 has also caused the cheek strap of the bridle to
be TOO far forward and TOO close to the horse's eye.
MISTAKE 4. The end of the strap is not straight and lying in the center
of the cheek piece.
MISTAKE 1. The cheek strap
being TOO far forward has caused the connection of the headstall to the
bit to rotate forward...putting an angle on the cheek strap and thereby
changing the position of the bit. The left bit shank is now TOO far back
and not aligned with the right one.
MISTAKE2. The rotation of the bit has caused the chin strap to move UP
out of the chin groove. It is now TOO high on the jaw and TOO snug.
MISTAKE 3. The forward placement of the cheek strap has caused the bit
(and therefore the mouthpiece) to be out of position.
MISTAKE 4. The bit shanks are NOT even...causing the reins to be mis-aligned.
Correct Bridle Fit