|How to Adjust a Snaffle Bridle|
If your bridle is correctly sized for your horse, adjusted properly and kept clean and conditioned, it will function properly as an aid to your riding. It will also be comfortable for him to wear next to the sensitive areas of his head.
Here are some steps for adjusting a snaffle bridle on your horse. If you would like help determining the size bridle or bit your horse requires, see How to Measure for a Bridle and How to Measure for a Bit.
|Parts of a Bridle|
|1) Adjust Cheek Pieces
With the snaffle bridle on your horse's head and the reins looped over his neck as shown in the photo, adjust the cheek pieces to achieve the proper bit height. In general, with the cheek pieces appropriately buckled and the bit correctly sized, you should see one to two soft wrinkles appearing at the corners of your horse's lips as a starting point for adjusting the bit height. (For a Pelham or Kimberwick bit, you'll only want to see one soft wrinkle at the corner of the lips.) |
More on Cheek Pieces and Bit Height: All horses are different; some horses prefer a higher or lower setting for their bits. When following these cheek piece adjustment guidelines, be sure to take into account your horse's preferences. Observe your horse's behavior and his response to the bit, and make adjustments accordingly.
Ideally, if your crown piece and cheek pieces together are appropriately sized, the buckles of each cheek piece will be located about 1 to 1 1/2 inches above your horse's eye level, and you'll be able to use the same holes on both sides of your horse's face so that the buckles are positioned evenly. You'll also ideally have at least one hole left above the buckles in case the leather stretches over time and you need to shorten the cheek pieces or raise the bit later.
If the crown piece and/or cheek pieces are too long for your horse, you may not be able to adjust the height of the bit in the horse's mouth correctly. It could hang too low in your horse's mouth, clank against his teeth, and become an ineffective riding aid. Some horses may require a horse size bridle with cob size cheek pieces to get a good fit. If the crownpiece and cheek pieces are too short, the bit could pull too high in the horse's mouth, which may cause discomfort or behavioral issues.
Tip: If you change the bit later on, differently sized bit rings may require an adjustment of the cheek pieces.
2) Check the Browband
The browband should rest lightly across your horse's forehead, just about 1/2 to 1 inch below the front of his ears. Be sure the browband is long enough so that it doesn't pull the crownpiece into the back of your horse's ears. Conversely, if it sticks out, forms a gap in front of the horse's forehead or wiggles when the horse moves, then the browband is too long.
Tip: Many styles of browbands are available separately. You can swap out your browband any time you'd like a new look, or if your horse's bridle fits but you'd like another size browband.
3) Adjust the noseband.
The placement and fit of the noseband varies very slightly depending on the type used. A standard noseband or caveson should sit level at a point about 1/2 to 1 inch below the horse's cheekbone. As a general guideline, you can use one finger's width to measure the space from the bottom of the cheekbone to the top of the noseband.
One finger's width between the horse's cheekbone and the noseband.
|Some nosebands come with integrated hangers that adjust on both sides of the horse's face. Buckle the hangers by the horse's cheeks on this type of noseband in the same hole on each side. An example of this type of noseband can be seen in the Showmark Deluxe Hunter Bridle.|