The bridle provides a way to communicate with your horse, with the reins conducting your cues into your horse's mouth. Thus, even making a small mistake when you are tacking up Misty or Cheyenne can have negative consequences. While a buckle facing the wrong direction should not significantly alter your cues, it can make your horse uncomfortable or cost you points with a judge in the show ring.
English Rein Buckles at the Bit
The rein buckles that attach to the bit need to face away from Misty’s skin, where they can not scratch or rub her. The small metal clasps could pinch your horse or make her uncomfortable while you apply the reins if the metal touches her skin.
English Rein Connecting Buckle
If you are holding your English reins correctly, then the slack in the reins as well as the buckle that holds the reins together in the center should fall to the right. The buckle itself will normally be pointed towards the ground, though technically there is no requirement that it do so so long as it is on the appropriate side of the horse.
Most Western reins only have one set of buckles, those that connect the reins to the bit. As with English bridles, it is customary for the reins to connect to the bit so that the buckles face away from the horse's skin. If you are using a shanked bit, there is little chance of the reins actually touching the skin, but the buckles should still be pointed away from the horse. If your reins have a designated top and bottom side, so you should attach them so the top -- or smooth side -- faces away from the horse.
If you are riding in a double bridle, such as a Pelham, it is customary to keep the slack of the reins and the buckle on the right. Reins dangling on either side of the horse qualify as a faux pas. Make sure you have both sets of reins, and both buckles, falling on the same side.
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Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.