How to fit a snaffle bridle correctly

Having a well-fitting bridle is the difference between a happy horse and a miserable one. If your bridle is not fitted properly your horse could start to show signs of being uncomforable. Head tossing can be just one of the signs.

Putting on the bridle.

1. Make sure the noseband and throat lash are undone before putting the bridle on.

2. Undo the nose part of your horses halter. If you can't do that, undo the halter, and then do the neck strap back up on the neck of the horse. This allows the horse to still be tied up while you put the bridle on.

3. Stand on the Near side ( Left side) of the horse just behind the head.

4. Place the reins of the bridle over the horses head.

5. Put your right hand under the horses jaw and pass the bridle into your right hand. If your horse is good and keeps its head down you can hold the top of the bridle. If they like to lift their head you will have to hold the bridle half way down putting the check straps in the right hand. This will give you more control.

6. Put the bit in your left hand and lift it up to the mouth. If your horse does not open its mouth you will need to gently put your thumb into the side of your horse's mouth in between its front teeth and the back teeth. Gently push down on the jaw and tongue until they open their mouth.

7. Slide your right hand up at the same time as sliding the bit into the mouth, making sure the bit is over the tongue.

8. Pull the top of the bridle over the ears, one at a time.

9. Pull the forelock over the browband and check to see if the bit, noseband, browband ans straps are even and level.

10. Do up the throat lash and the noseband.

Correctly fitting your bridle

It is very important to make sure your bridle fits your horse properly. If it is uncomfortable for your horse you might find they start head tossing which can be dangerous.

Here is a list of things to check to make sure your bridle is fitted correctly.

1. To make sure the check straps are the right length, your bit should leave a small crease in the corner of your horse's mouth. Too short, and your horse will be uncomfortable and start tossing it'shead, too loose and the bit will not sit in the right position and can bang on your horse's teeth.

2. The noseband or cavesson should sit about 1-2 fingers width below the horses cheekbones. For a plain noseband you should be able to slide 2 fingers under it when it is done up. If you're using a drop noseband it should be a bit tighter but you should be able to slide at least 1 finger underneath it.

If a drop noseband is done up too loosely it can pull down toward the nose when you do up the drop noseband strap. This can cut off some of your horse;s airways.

3. The browband should not be to long or to short for your horse. It should sit in the natural hollow below your horse's ear and lie flat against your horse's forehead. To small and it will pull the head piece forward giving your horse's ears no room. To big and it will flop around when your riding.

4. The throat lash goes under your horse's jaw. It is there to prevent the bridle from coming off in extreme circumstances. It should be fairly loose and when done up you should be able to fit your fist between the leather and your horse's throat. To short and it can interfere with your horse's ability to flex at the poll.

Remember leather can stretch over time so don't always rely on doing the bridle up in the same spot every time.

If you are riding with a running martingale it is important to make sure it is the correct length. Before putting the reins through the rings, check the length by reaching the rings up your horse's jaw/throat. The rings should touch your horse's throat/jaw.

If you follow these simple rules your horse should be happy and comfortable. If you find your horse still head tosses arrange for your vet to check their teeth and check the bit you are using.

Horses can be very sensitive with what you put in their mouths and every horse is different, so you might need to change the bit to one that will suit your horse better.