Horse licks - which one to choose

Horslyx original

Thinking of a buying your horse a lick? Licks aren’t always the best way of providing your horse with a balanced diet, but they can be useful in certain situations. Read on to find out which are best for when.

Vitamin and mineral licks

These can be very useful if you have a number of horses sharing a paddock. In this situation it may not be possible to feed them individually because of bullying or fighting, but a vitamin and mineral lick is a practical way of helping to ensure they get a balanced diet.

You'll find many different brands available in your local feed shop including Orignal Horslyx which contains vitamins, minerals and trace elelments to balance any deficieinces in your horse’s grazing and forage. When fed alongside good quality forage it can remove the need to feed hard food. 

To find out more about the Horslyx range visit

Salt licks

NAF salt lick

These can be useful for horses in hard work who need extra salt in their diet to replenish salt lost through sweating. However, one disadvantage of providing a self-help salt lick is that it’s difficult to tell how much the horse consumes each day. 

However, it’s often better and easier to simply feed a suitable concentrate feed. The best feed will obviously depend on your horse’s individual needs, but there are products available to cater for every type of horse, from a very good-doer to a top class competition horse. The right feed will provide your horse with a fully balanced diet and many already contain added herbs such as garlic. It will usually contain enough salt if your horse is only in light work, but if he’s working harder you may need to add some extra salt or a specific electrolyte supplement. 

Himalayan Salt Licks are a popular choice with horse owners as they're the purest form of salt you can give your horse. NAF Himalayan salt lick is as natural and pure as the day it was mined high up in the Himalayan mountains. Horses and ponies require supplementary salt on a daily basis. Research shows that salt is the one nutrient that horses will self-supplement to balance their diet. Himalayan Salt Licks hung in the stable and field allow access to the purest form of salt, without unnatural flavours that can encourage greediness!

To find out more visit



Training aids - the Pessoa


A system of ropes and pulleys that run along the sides of the horse, with an elastic tensioner positioned behind the quarters. The tensioner is attached to the top of lunging roller. Then two lines run from the tensioner, along either side of the horse, through rings on the roller positioned half way up the horse’s body. They then continue to clip on to the bit rings via a small pulley, before being run to one of several positions on the roller.

A pessoa creates a connection between the hindquarters and the bit

A pessoa creates a connection between the hindquarters and the bit


It’s designed to be used during lungeing only.


In effect it creates a connection between the hindquarters and the bit. The tensioner and its supporting lines put gentle pressure on the quarters, encouraging the horse to step further under, and so stretch and lift the back muscles. At the same time the lines running through the bit discourage the horse from raising his head too far by exerting pressure on the mouth. As soon as the horse lowers his head the pressure is removed.


  • Suppleness of the back via a rounder outline
  • Looser paces due to increased suppleness
  • Developing topline muscle
  • Improving the connection from hindquarters to bridle by forming the correct outline
  • Improving engagement of the hindquarters, so transferring weight onto the hindquarters and improving balance

“By creating greater engagement and connection, the Pessoa can help improve muscle development in weak or young horses,” says training expert Tara Osborn. “Those who are difficult to motivate or who find engagement of their quarters difficult will also benefit.” By improving the back muscles, it can also improve horses who are tense or hollow, encouraging relaxation and the lowering and stretching of neck and topline.


Fitted too tightly, it will restrict the horse’s forward movement and bring his nose behind the vertical, putting him onto the forehand. The horse must be driven forward to achieve the correct frame. Too loose and the quarters won’t engage, so there’ll be no connection from the hindquarters to the bridle.

Double bridles explained

The design of double bridles can vary and it's important to recognise the different features and fixtures they can have. Different designs can have a huge effect on the way each bridle works. Here are some key features explained:

The Shank
The shank of the curb can be fixed or sliding and of varying lengths. A sliding shank allows the curb to move slightly as the bit is tipped when the rider takes up the contact. This is less precise than a fixed shank but a much milder action. Shanks that are shorter in length also have a milder action.

The curb and port
The action of the curb asks the horse to flex, while the thickness of the mouthpiece varies from bit to bit, as does the port in the centre. A forward-slanting port can provide more room for the two bits to sit together nicely in the mouth, be comfier on the tounge (especially in a more fleshy mouth) and should not touch the roof of the mouth. Ultimately the type of curb you need depends entirely on the make-up of your horse. Generally, the thicker the curb mouthpiece the milder the bit, and a high port makes the bit more devere, but it really depends on your horse. A smaller mouth may require a thinner curb and smaller port, while a larger mouth may benefit from a thicker mouthpiece and a wider port.

The snaffle or bridoon
The bridoon is a smaller version of a snaffle bit and its action asks the horse to lift his head. Commonly a single-jointed, loose-ring snaffle is used, but an eggbutt version can also be used. A double-jointed bit with a lozenge will sit neatly in the port of the curb for a more comfortable fit

Curb Chain
The curb chain should lie flat in the chin groove and a padded chain cover can be used for extra comfort. Curb chains can have forward- or backward-facing hooks, but Claire advises that forward-facing hooks are a better choice, as backward-facing hooks can become caught in the horse's lip when putting the bridle on.


1. Start by holding the bridle up against the side of your horse's head to see whether it's roughly the right size.

2. It's important to treat the double bridle as a single bridle, and the two bits as one, as you put it on. Put the reins over your horse’s neck and undo the curb chain. Hold the two bits in your hand, as you normally would, ensuring that the snaffle sits behind the curb. If you don't do this, the snaffle can sit in the wrong place or twist.

Fitting a double bridle for the first time should be done with care.

Fitting a double bridle for the first time should be done with care.

3. It's also essential that the curb chain is secured at the right length as it controls the severity of the curb bit. If it's too loose and would allow the curb to rotate too far in the horse's mouth, causing a lot of pressure on the tongue as the bit rotates forwards.

4. The curb chain should be fitted so that it acts when the lower cheek of the curb rotates to 45 degrees. If the curb chain is too short, the action of the curb bit is very severe and puts great pressure on the poll and the lower jar - a rough rider may even break the jaw bone.

A double bridle will only work if used correctly. Holding the reins incorrectly will mean you're likely to cause your horse to overbend, or you'll feel some strong resistance to the contact.

To use a double bridle most effectively, you must hold the snaffle rein as you would normally between your third and little finger. The curb rein should sit between your second and third finger, while your thumbs should sit on top of both reins, keeping them secure.

A double bridle will only work if used correctly

A double bridle will only work if used correctly

To begin with, ride your horse on a 20m circle in walk, but ensure that the curb rein is slack so that you can first get used to the feeling of holding two reins. When you do take up the curb rein and walk on the circle, your seat bones should follow the movement, as normal. You don't follow the movement of your horse with your hands, you follow it with your hips.

When you’re ready to shorten the curb rein remember that your seat and legs will continue to work your horse into an outline, your hands are to feel with the rein, not fiddle. Remind yourself that the double bridle is only for fine tuning, it's a very subtle action.


  • Hold the snaffle rein between your third and little finger
  • Hold the curb rein between your second and third finger
  • Keep your thumbs on top

Top Tip - before you ride in a double bridle for the first time, it's a good idea to have a play with the action of the two bits from the ground - this gives you the opportunity to check that the horse is OK with this feeling.






Training Aids - the De Gogue

By encouraging the neck to be lowered and the nose to be brought in, the back comes up and the quarters engage. “Like the chambon, the de Gogue is good for hollow horses,” says expert Tara Osborn, “but it has the benefit of being used for ridden work, too. Also, as the nose is encouraged to be brought in, it tends to develop a rounder way of going and improves the topline and muscling of the quarters.”


A De Gogue acts upon the poll and the bit, putting pressure on the corners of the mouth when the horse raises his head higher than desired.

A De Gogue acts upon the poll and the bit, putting pressure on the corners of the mouth when the horse raises his head higher than desired.

What is it?

Similar in look to a chambon, the cords pass through the bit rings instead of clipping to them, and attach either to specially adapted reins or back onto the breast strap that passes between the horse’s forelegs to form a triangular shape.


When should it be used?

For in-hand work, loose schooling, lungeing or ridden work. For non-ridden training it’s used in the triangular shape and is under the direct control of the horse. For ridden work, the de Gogue can be brought into action by the special reins, but should be used alongside reins fitted directly to the bit.

How does it work?

It acts upon the poll and the bit, putting pressure on the corners of the mouth when the horse raises his head higher than desired. Downward pressure is placed on the poll and backwards pressure on the mouth, which releases when the horse brings his head down and nose in.

What is it good for?

  • Developing suppleness through the back
  • Encouraging a longer, lower frame while being ridden
  • Developing muscle across the back and loins - particularly those needed for show jumping
  • Strengthening the hindquarters
  • Develops looseness in the paces due to greater suppleness in the back

What can go wrong?

The effectiveness will be dramatically reduced if the de Gogue isn’t fitted correctly. “If it’s too tight, it will pull the horse’s neck down and back, making him overbent and unable to work up from the hindquarters into the bridle,” explains Tara. “Too loose and there will be little effect as the horse can maintain a head-up and nose-out way of going. It’s vital the horse is worked forward into the contact otherwise he’ll be put onto the forehand.”

Training Aids - the Chambon

A chambon can be used for lungeing or loose schooling on the flat.

A chambon can be used for lungeing or loose schooling on the flat.

The chambon is used to encourage the horse to work in a longer, lower outline, using the muscles over the back, quarters and neck. It’s ideal for the early stages of a horse’s education or in retraining. “It’s effective for horses who go in a hollow outline, with their head up, back dropped and quarters trailing,” explains expert instructor and dressage trainer Tara Osborn. “By encouraging the longer, lower frame, the horse will learn to use his back muscles and engage his quarters. It must be introduced slowly and the horse must be encouraged forward into the contact to get the best results.”


What is it?

A cord clips to each bit ring and then passes upwards and through a loop on each side of a poll strap. From here, the cords drop downwards to attach to a single strap that passes between the horse’s forelegs and loops onto the girth or roller.

When should it be used?

For lungeing or loose schooling on the flat.

How does it work?

The chambon acts on the poll and, via the bit, on the corners of the mouth. When the horse raises his head higher than desired, the bit is raised in the mouth and poll pressure is applied. As soon as he lowers his head the pressure is removed. In effect, the horse works the chambon.

What is it good for

  • Developing suppleness of the back
  • Encouraging a longer, lower frame
  • Developing muscle over the back and loins - particularly good for strengthening those used for show jumping
  • Strengthening the hindquarters
  • Developing looseness in the paces through suppleness in the back
  • Developing topline muscle

What can go wrong?

If fitted too tightly, the horse will draw his neck back and become overbent. If the chambon is too loose, the horse will trail his quarters and little muscle development will be achieved. Finally, the horse shouldn’t be allowed to slop along so no connection to the contact is made. Any of these mistakes will lead to the horse working on his forehand.

Tips for choosing summer breeches

Even though the English summer isn't quite as sunny as we'd hoped, it is starting to hot up! If you're looking to find yourself a new pair of summer breeches, take a look at our advice on what you should be looking out for.

What material?

A lightweight, breathable and stretchy material is very important when choosing summer breeches. You need maximum movement and to be able to stay as cool as possible while riding – and of course, you want them to look as flattering as possible. Cotton and Lycra/elastane mixes are great, particularly for slightly bigger thighs as the fabric skims straight over. The modern stretch 100% polyester fabrics are great technical breeches but they tend to show every lump and bump!

What style?

• High-waisted breeches are ideal for a curvy shape or anyone with a larger waist, as they tend to hold you in a little more.

• Hipster styles are good for those with a boyish figure or those with a longer body.

• Pleated front breeches (although quite hard to get hold of these days) can hide a multitude of sins.

• Jeans-style are now available from lots of brands in stretch denim. These look great and can also be worn as a fashion look away from horses as well.

What about colours and patterns?

When it comes to patterns, if you want to look slimmer, small patterns like checks are great. 
Go for a darker colour with a darker coloured full seat. The full seat in a dark shade cuts away the inner thigh and makes your legs look slimmer and your bottom look smaller, like a miracle diet – hurrah we hear you cry!

Rather than bright or pale colours, go for strong colours if you want to brighten up your wardrobe – strong tan, green, blue, purple and cerise can all look really stylish and flattering on any age as long as you tone in another piece of your clothing.

Wash advice – keep your breeches brighter for longer

When you wash bright colours, remember to turn them inside out to stop the colour from running and wash them on a cool wash. If you get marks or stains, put neat fabric wash on them and leave it to soak for a few hours rather than washing them on a hot wash straight away.

Geting the right fit

Well fitting tack will improve communication between you and horse, as well as keeping him happy and comfortable.

In the following videos SMS Qualified saddle fitter Diane Fisher shows you what checks to make to ensure your horse's bridle and saddle are as comfortable as possible, or when it's time to call your fitter out.

Plus, there's a short video on fitting brushing boots.

SMS Qualified saddle fitter Diane Fisher shows you how to fit your horse's bridle

SMS qualified saddle fitter Diane Fisher runs through a number of key checks you can make to see if you horse's saddle is in balance.

Your Horse Gear Guide editor Allison Lowther shows you how to correctly fit a pair of brushing boots.

The lungie bungie

A lungie bungie provides an elastic contact on the bit.

A lungie bungie provides an elastic contact on the bit.

A lungie bungie is a short strap with a central fixed ring is clipped at either end to the bit rings. Then an elasticated bungie cord, which can be adjusted to different lengths, is run through the central ring and attaches at either end to the D-rings of the saddle or a roller.

It can be used for lungeing or ridden work but not jumping.

This provides an elastic contact on the bit, which is always kept even due to the bungie not being connected directly, but via the sliding ring. If the horse raises his head too far, pressure will be placed on the bit and thus the bars and corners of the mouth, until his head is lowered. However, due to the elastic and flexible nature of the bungie, the pressure is not a fixed pull, but is designed to ‘ask’ and encourage the horse to relax.

- Developing lightness of contact
- Developing an even contact
- Improving suppleness through the jaw and poll and, therefore, the back
- Increasing suppleness of the back through a rounder outline
- Improving paces through suppleness
- Developing topline muscle

The bungie places gentle pressure on the corners and bars of the mouth via the bit to encourage an elastic contact. This helps develop softness through the jaw and poll, which allows the horse to use his back muscles and engage his quarters correctly. “It can help horses who have an uneven contact and one-sidedness by encouraging an even connection,” explains expert Tara Osborn. “It will also help improve lightness of contact due to its elasticity, especially for horses who are a little tight in the jaw or fixed on the contact.”

Fitting the bungie too tightly will cause the horse to draw his nose too far in. “A horse who is overbent and behind the vertical will be put onto his forehand, which in turn will create tension in the back and make him reluctant to go forward,” says Tara. “However, if the aid is too slack it will have no effect and the horse will be long and above the bit, lacking connection and therefore unable to develop muscle.”

How to measure your horse for a rug

Using a tape measure – or a piece of string you can measure later – measure your horse from the centre of his chest, horizontally along his side, finishing at the point of his tail. If your horse is between sizes, you’re usually better to go up a size than down.

When you’re trying a rug on your horse, put it on over the top of a summer sheet. This won’t affect its fit but will stop any hair sticking to the rug, so if it doesn’t fit you can return and exchange it. Remember to keep your receiptand all tags from the rugs.

In this video, we show you how to measure your horse to make sure you get the right size of rug for your horse, so he will be happy in his stable or out in the field all winter.

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