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Types of English Bridles

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As an English rider, you already are aware of how important your bridle is to creating effective communication between you and your horse. English bridles all share the same basic components, but some models have features that are designed to improve your horse's performance. It may take a little bit of experimentation before you figure out what bridle features work best for your horse.

Snaffle Bridle

The standard English snaffle bridle is designed for use with a single, jointed snaffle bit. The snaffle bridle is the standard issue English bridle that is used by most lower level English riders whether they are riding hunt seat, jumping or even dressage. This bridle consists of a headstall or head piece, two cheek pieces, a noseband, a throat latch, a snaffle-style bit and a set of basic English reins. Specialized nosebands, such as the flash noseband, crank noseband and drop noseband, can be used to fine tune the performance of a standard snaffle bridle.

Full Bridle

The full bridle, also known as a double bridle or Weymouth bridle, is an English bridle that is predominantly used by upper level riders who are working with highly trained horses. These bridles are seen mostly in the dressage ring but may be used on eventing horses as well. The double bridle is similar to the standard snaffle bridle except a double bridle features two bits and two sets of reins. The double bridle makes use of a shanked curb bit as well as a small snaffle bit called a bradoon. Each bit has its own set of reins attached to it, allowing the rider to choose which bit she is sending her cues with as she rides.

Bitless Bridle

Bitless bridles are also called hackamores. Bitless bridles work by applying pressure to specific areas of the head. Bitless bridles are easy to recognize because they do not have a bit, or any other piece of equipment, that goes in the horse's mouth. English bitless bridles normally feature a design that allows pressure to be delivered to the nose and throat area of the bridle when the rider cues with the reins.

Colors and Features

English bridles are designed to be subdued and conservative. Bridles that are used in the hunter or jumping ring are supposed to be brown in color, though the shade of brown is irrelevant. Dressage bridles are customarily black. English bridles are almost always made of leather or synthetic leather; nylon is not customarily used for making English bridles. Some bridles feature decorative stitching, padding or very subtle decorations that do not attract significant attention or stand out noticeably from the rest of the bridle.