December 4, 2006
Last summer I taught horsemanship in a Boy Scout camp and all went well, but the hardest thing I found to teach was bridling. As I think about it, in my travels I have seen a lot of folks who just attack their horses with the bit and bridle. These folks are bumping the front teeth with the bit and wind up having a fight with the horse. I am always learning new ways to bridle a horse myself, and always welcome other people’s input and ideas.
First, stand on the left side of the horse and place the reins over the head, or over the neck in order to keep the reins from falling to the ground.
Hold the crown piece in the right hand and offer the bit with the left. Be sure to keep fingers from front teeth. Bring the crown piece over the horse’s ears. Place the bit into the horse’s lips and offer it to him.
If the horse fails to open his mouth, put your thumb in the side of the mouth (the area where the bit lies, there are no teeth. I like to wiggle my thumb on the horse’s tongue.) When your horse opens his mouth, raise the crown piece, sliding the bit into the horse’s mouth (not jerking, but easy sliding.)
Slip the crown piece gently over one ear, and then the other, pushing the ears flat first (do NOT try folding the ears.) Be gentle when slipping the bridle over and also when slipping the bit into the mouth. This will save making a horse head-shy. Straighten the brow-band and forelock.
Buckle the throatlatch (not too tight.) English cavesson buckles are inside the bridle cheek pieces.
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When using one-eared bridles, place the one ear in the earpiece, and then slide the crown piece over the other ear. Buckle the throatlatch loosely enough so the hand can be inserted, breadth-wise, between the throatlatch and the throat of the horse.
Fasten the cavesson or noseband so one finger can be inserted between the cavesson and the horse. Adjust the curb chain or strap so that it is not twisted and so that two fingers can be inserted between the strap and the horse’s jaw.