How to Bridle a Horse for Dressage

A dressage bridle is similar to an English one, but generally has more parts. Bridling a horse with a dressage bridle should be done step-by-step, checking throughout the process that everything is symmetrical and fitting.


  1. 1
    Take the halter off the horse. Fasten it around the horse's neck if you prefer or loop the bridle reins around the neck to keep them off the ground.
  2. Image titled Holdingbridleup
    Hold up the bridle and align everything to avoid tangles. The throatlatch, noseband, and flash should be unfastened with the straps hanging neatly to the outside of the cheekpieces and bit.
  3. Image titled Puttingonheadstall
    Put the headstall on the horse gently, bit first, remembering to push the ears forward one at a time, not reaching through and pulling them forward uncomfortably. Before you start fastening the buckles, view the horse from the front and make sure the bridle pieces and bit lay straight and even on both sides of the face:
    • The browband should be between the base of the horse's ears and the top of the horns (the bony protrusion above each eye). It should be level and large enough not to pull the cheekpieces too close to the eye.
    • The buckles of the cheekpiece and strap to the noseband should be very close to each other for a good fit and neat look.
    • The throatlatch should fit basically like a necklace (four fingers' width).
    • The cavesson (noseband) should fit like a bracelet (two fingers' width).
    • The flash should fit like more like ring and needs to be BELOW the bit. This way the flash won't interfere with the bit's movement or pinch the corners of the mouth when you pick up on the reins.
  4. Image titled Checkingthethroatlatch
    Fasten the throatlatch. You should be able to fit four fingers under it; it should fit like a necklace with ample room for your horse to breathe when the neck is flexed.
  5. Image titled Checkingnoseband
    Fasten the noseband (or cavesson) approx one inch below the cheek bone, about half-way between the corner of his eye and top of his nostril. This should fit like a bracelet; you should be able to fit two fingers under it but can be adjusted to your horse's preference. Make sure the cheekpiece (that attaches to the bit) moves freely and that the noseband is under it.
  6. Image titled Checkingflash
    Fasten the flash and situate the buckle. The buckle should lay on a fleshy, non-bony area of the horse's nose. It should be somewhat between the bridge of the nose and the line of the lips. Adjust the tightness of the flash to your horse's comfort level, start loose at first and tighten only enough to prevent gaping of the mouth but not so much that your horse feels trapped, the jaws must move to maintain softness and relaxation while maintaining connection through the reins to the riders hands.(see image).
  7. Image titled Bridlinghorsedressage
    Examine the bridle from the front and both sides. Everything should be symmetrical and fitted.
  8. Image titled Storingdressagebridle
    Store the bridle. Hang the crown and the loop of the reins together on a hook. The reins should hang with the right side of the leather facing up. Now circle each strap (cavesson, throatlatch, flash) around the bridle and secure. Do not buckle the straps – just push the strap's end through the leather keepers. This will help the bridle keep the correct shape, and also ensure that you don't lose any straps off the headstall.


  • The flash needs to be below the bit, and the noseband under the cheekpiece and above the bit.

Article Info

Categories: Tack (Saddles and Bridles)