Bridles & Bits

Use these tips from Certified Horsemanship Association instructors to properly and safely bridle your horse.

Compiled by Hailey Harroun

When bridling your horse:

    • Stand on the horse’s left side and place the reins over the head around his neck to keep them from falling to the ground and to control the horse. The horse should always be untied before bridling.
    • Hold the crown piece of the bridle in the right hand and the bit in the left. Reach over the horse’s head and move the crown piece toward the horse’s ears.
    • Place the bit between the horse’s lips. If the horse doesn’t open his mouth, put your thumb in the side of his mouth and press down on the horse’s bars (the area where there are no teeth and where the bit lies).

Before you put the bridle on, you have to choose the tack and after you take the bridle off, you have care for the tack. Get AQHA's Tack Talk DVD to teach you how to choose and care for your tack. It's tthe perfect addition to any horseman's library.

    • Raise the crown piece and guide the bit carefully into the horse’s mouth. Slip the crown piece gently over one ear and then the other, bringing the ears forward, trying not to bend them. Straighten the browband and forelock.
    • When using one-eared bridles, place the right ear in the earpiece and slide the rest of the crown piece over the left ear.
    • Buckle the throatlatch loosely enough so your hand can be inserted breadth-wise between the throatlatch and the throat of the horse.
    • Fasten the cavesson – noseband on an English bridle – so one or two fingers can be inserted between the cavesson and the horse’s jaw bone.
    • Adjust the curb chain or strap so it is not twisted and so two fingers can be inserted between the strap and the horse’s jaw.

Choosing the right tack for your American Quarter Horse can be a difficult task, even for the most experienced horse owner. Get the guidance you need with AQHA's Tack Talk DVD.

The Right Size Bit

To measure the width of the mouth, you can use twine or a wooden dowel about 12 inches long.

  1. Put the dowel in the horse’s mouth where the bit would be placed.
  2. Mark the dowel on each side of the horse’s mouth to get the correct width.
  3. Always round up. If the width is 4 and 7/8 inches, then get a 5-inch bit, not a 4 3/4-inch.

Taken from Bits, Saddle Fitting and Hoof Balance, a online equine study course.