Styles and materials for bridles

By Your Horse

Tack and equipment advice

02 February 2012 16:55

Traditionally, bridles are made of leather but there are increasingly large numbers of synthetic nylon and leather-look styles available, which can be cheaper and easier to care for. It’s always worth bearing in mind when buying a new bridle that synthetic tack has a much higher breaking point than leather.

Another consideration is the shape and type of head your horse has. A chunky, cob-type horse tends to have a large, broad head, which is best suited to a bridle with wide straps and noseband. Similarly, a fine Arab or show horse’s head will look better in a more delicate bridle with thinner, more detailed leather.

Leather tack needs to be regularly cleaned and oiled to keep it supple, while synthetic nylon tack should be routinely washed to prevent deterioration of the material. There are a wide range of products available to care for your tack, from convenient wipes that are great for day-to-day cleaning, to saddle soaps and tack conditioners for a more thorough clean. Specialist synthetic tack cleaners are also available for leather-look tack.

 

Comfort concept


Designed with the horse’s comfort in mind, the Elevator Bridle was created by Lorraine Green of Horsesense Saddlers after her talented horse wasn’t performing as well as she hoped. The Elevator Bridle relieves pressure to the horse’s sensitive poll area. Nerves and blood vessels that feed the brain are located in this area. It’s also where meridian lines run – one of the areas to which they connect is the kidney area, exactly where the saddle and rider sit.

Horsesense has produced a bridle that features a cushioned underpad on the headpiece and a shaped headpiece to allow room for your horse’s ears to move freely. To reduce pressure on the poll area the headpiece has crew holes either side to allow a thinner noseband strap to thread through and over the top of the poll.

 

Leather alternatives


There was a time when leather was the only material all tack was made from, but webbing headcollars are now considered normal and it wasn’t too long before synthetic bridles appeared on the market. Some traditionalists won’t entertain using a synthetic bridle on their horses but there is definitely a place for them whether they’re made from webbing or a leather-look material.

Libbys makes synthetic tack - the concept was to produce a range of washable, easy-care, English tack. One of the benefits of using webbing is that regular washing can reduce the risk of skin diseases and infection. Libbys makes a full range of products in a variety of different styles to suit all sizes and types from Shetlands to Shires. High quality webbing is used, which is hard wearing and good value for money. Its most popular product is the Standard bridle, which is fully adjustable with a cavesson noseband.

Wintec produces a leather-look bridle made from Equileather, which is lightweight, durable and waterproof. The Wintec Flash bridle has a nylon webbing core for extra strength and is made from a non-stretch material that simply needs wiping clean. It’s available in pony, cob and full size.

 

Animal magnetism


Another relatively new concept is using magnets in the headpiece of your bridle. Magnets are used on other areas of the body and known for their benefits of relaxing and calming as well as boosting circulation. Barnsby makes a Magnetic headpiece, which you can quickly and easily attach to your bridle or headcollar, held securely in place by two Velcro straps. Many riders who use them and say their horses are calmer and more relaxed.

Barnsby also makes a Calming Bridle – the magnetic crownpiece of the Barnsby FTS Calming Bridle incorporates a series of magnets into the leatherwork, which then sits on your horse’s poll and directly affects the axis vertebrae at the top of the spine. This allows the crownpiece to positively affect the whole horse, helping him to relax and work in a calmer, softer way.