What are the Different Types of Horse Bridles?

Posted by Mary's Tack & Feed on 21st Jul 2021

What are the Different Types of Horse Bridles?

One of the key pieces of equipment every rider needs to know about is the bridle. There are a number of horse bridle types, each of which can be used for different styles of riding or purposes. Learn more about these bridles to ensure you get the correct one for your horse.

What Is a Horse Bridle?

Before diving into the types of bridles available, let's cover what a bridle is. This piece of equipment includes a bit that is inserted into the horse's mouth as well as the headstall that fits over the head and the reins that are attached to the bit. Bridles are designed to strategically apply pressure to different areas of the face so that riders can effectively control and direct their horses.

English Bridles

A horse with a halter Description automatically generated with low confidence

English bridles are mainly used for dressage, jumping and trail riding and typically include a noseband for better control. There are several variations on this style of bridle, including:

  • Snaffle bridles:

    This type of bridle has one bit and one set of reins and can be used with multiple styles of bits.

  • Double bridles:

    Double bridles have two bits and two sets of reins and are largely used for competitive dressage. These are sometimes called Weymouth bridles.

  • Pelham bridles:

    This bridle comes with one bit and two sets of reins. It is sometimes referred to as a curb bit.

Western Bridles

Western bridles are used in American-style Western riding, including trail riding and rodeos. This style of bridle generally does not include a noseband and, in some cases, does not include a browband.

Western bridles have one bit and one set of reins. There is a single cheekpiece along each side of the horse's face. Overall, Western bridles have a lightweight design that's much more comfortable for a horse to wear over long distances.

Specialty Bridles

There are a few other types of bridles that are generally reserved for specialty applications. These bridles include:

  • Halter bridles:

    This style of bridle combines a halter with a bridle in one piece. This makes it easy for the rider to remove the bit and reins while still keeping the horse restrained. It's often used for showing horses or endurance competitions and can also be handy for some trail riding applications.

  • Hackamore bridles:

    This is a style of bitless bridle that is sometimes used for training or showing horses. Because there is no bit, the horse is controlled by a bosal that sits over the nose.

  • Gag bridle:

    Gag bridles feature rounded cheekpieces that attach directly to the reins and connect to the rings of a gag bit. This style of bridle is most frequently used in show jumping, polo and certain rodeo events.

  • Harness bridles:

    Harness bridles are often used for driving horses. They include blinders (also known as winkers or blinkers) on each side to restrict the peripheral vision of the horse to limit distractions and avoid startling the horse.

Which type of bridle is right for your horse? Use this guide to make sure you get the best fit for your needs as a rider.