How to Bridle a Horse

Posted by Mary's Tack & Feed on 1st Sep 2021

How to Bridle a Horse

Learning how to bridle a horse is an important step for any rider. In addition to getting your horse ready to be ridden, it is an opportunity to build a good relationship with your horse by completing this step gently yet confidently. Get tips for bridling a horse in this guide from Mary's Tack and Feed.

Start with a Calm Approach

Before you start the bridling process, it's important to take note of your own state of mind. Horses are very perceptive and often react to the energy of those around them, so approaching them in a calm and controlled way is perhaps the most important step of all. The goal is to create a trusting environment in which you are the horse's confident leader, which will help them be more compliant as you begin bridling.

If you approach the horse calmly but detect that they seem agitated or uneasy, you can try gently petting them first. Gently petting them allows the horse to have a calm moment with you before you attempt to put on a bridle.

Prepare the Bridle

Now that you and the horse are ready to proceed, begin by unbuckling the bridle so it's ready. If it's the first time the horse will use this bridle, check the length by measuring the bridle against the horse's head, making adjustments as necessary before you put it on.  Leave any straps out of their keepers (but in the buckle) so you can quickly make any adjustments. 

Next, remove any twists in the reins. Then, gently place the reins over the horse's head so they're in the correct position on either side of the face.

Insert the Bit

Stand on the left side of the horse and place your right shoulder next to the head. Gently slide the bit between the horse's lips using your left hand. If the horse doesn't accept the bit right away, you can use your right hand to place your fingers behind the back teeth and rub the gums, which should cause the horse to open its mouth. The bit should ultimately be situated over the tongue and behind the back teeth.

Slip the Bridle On

A horse with a halter Description automatically generated with low confidence

Once the bit is properly in place, you can move the crown of the bridle over the ears. Maintain gentle pressure on the bit so it doesn't fall out of the horse's mouth. Adjust the brow band so it rests against the forehead comfortably about an inch or two below the base of the ears.

Then you'll want to check that the bit is in a comfortable position for the horse.  Your trainer can help you determine what is best for your horse, but a good rule of thumb is that there should be one or two small wrinkles in the corner of the horse's mouth.  

Then you'll need to buckle the caveson.  When the caveson is buckled, you should be able to fit two fingers comfortably between the horse's nose and the caveson.  This will make sure that the noseband isn't too tight, or too loose.

The throatlatch is the last piece to buckle.  You should be able to fit a fist between the jaw and throatlatch. 

If you have any questions about how to adjust your bridle, please give us a call!

How to Bridle a Difficult Horse

Some horses are more challenging to bridle than others. If that's the case, try one or more of these tips to ease the bridle on:

  • Warm the bit between your hands for a minute or so if it's cold.
  • Use treats to reward the horse and/or encourage them to open their mouth.
  • Put on a halter or secure the horse and give yourself a little more control.

Use the steps and tips in this guide to bridle your horse successfully. The more you practice this process, the easier it will become, especially if you regularly ride the same horse.