How to Choose a Bridle for Your Horse

Three Methods:Selecting the Proper BridleMeasuring Your Horse For a BridleMaking Sure the Bridle Fits

For centuries, riders have used bridles to direct the movements of their horse. When properly fitted, bridles exert pressure on the sensitive areas of a horse’s nose, mouth and cheeks to allow you the maximum amount of control. Measuring for your bridle and selecting one that is both comfortable for your horse and practical for you as a rider will improve the relationship between you and your animal.

Method 1
Selecting the Proper Bridle

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    Decide on the type of material you want. Bridles vary in price range based on the quality of the material. The cheapest bridles tend to be made of synthetic leather, while better bridles will be made from a higher quality Sedgewick or UK leather. [1]
    • Consider the function of your horse when deciding how much to spend on materials. You may want to splurge and get the best leather for your top show horse.
  2. 2
    Choose between a bitless bridle and one with a bit. A bit is the piece of the bridle that is placed in the horse’s mouth that allows the rider to communicate with the horse. The practice of using a bitless bridle, however, is becoming more and more popular. Many believe that bits cause the horse physical discomfort and impact their physical and psychological health. [2]
    • If your horse is in less physical pain, it will be more willing to listen to you and engage in training.
    • Building a positive relationship and getting your horse to trust you will better allow you to train and control your horse without having to use a device that could cause the horse pain such as a bit.[3]
  3. 3
    Decide on the weight of the material. This means the thickness of the material. Your decision will be based on personal preference, and your horse's conformation. A fine head will look better in fine material, while a more workman like head will look better in a thicker material.[4]

Method 2
Measuring Your Horse For a Bridle

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    Measure the crown piece and cheek piece. The crownpiece is the strap that goes behind the horse’s ears. Using a soft fabric measuring tape, start at one corner of the mouth and measure up the cheeks, over the ears, and down to the other side of the mouth. [5][6]
  2. 2
    Measure for the length of the browband. Using the same measuring tape, start at the back edge of the horse’s ear. Measure around the horse’s forehead, and then to the back edge of the other ear.[7]
  3. 3
    Measure the throatlatch. The throatlatch runs from the back of the horse’s ear, under the throat, and back up to the other ear. Using your measuring tape, figure out how long your horse’s throatlatch needs to be.[8]
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    Measure the noseband. Start about one inch down from the cheekbone, or two finger widths. From there, measure the circumference of the horse’s nose.[9]

Method 3
Making Sure the Bridle Fits

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    Put on the bridle to test for fit. It’s a good idea to put on the bridle before purchasing it to make sure it fits. Make sure your bridle is loose before attempting to put it on your horse. If it’s too tight, it will hurt the horse and you may meet more resistance.
    • Hold onto the halter or the horse’s mane to keep it restrained while putting on the bridle.[10]
    • Put the reins over the horse’s head. This will allow you to restrain the horse without using the halter.[11]
    • Position the crownpiece between the horse’s ears. Put your right arm around the horse’s neck and between the ears, holding the bridle by the crownpiece in your right hand. Then hold the bridle so that the bit is positioned over the mouth.[12]
  2. 2
    Insert the bit. With your right hand on the crownpiece, grab the bit with your left hand and move it towards the horse’s mouth. If your horse is well-trained, you should be able to just touch the horse’s lips to indicate that the mouth needs to open.[13]
    • If your horse doesn’t open his or her mouth, try putting your thumb and little finger behind the horse’s incisors to coax the mouth open without getting bitten.
    • Once the horse’s mouth is open, put in the bit.
  3. 3
    Adjust the bridle. Once the bridle is on, you’ll have to adjust the throatlatch, noseband, and cheekpieces.[14]
    • For the noseband, make sure there is about two or three fingers’ width of slack. If the noseband is too tight the horse won’t be able to open its mouth.
    • If the throatlatch is too tight the horse won’t be able to breath. You should be able to fit three fingers between the horse’s throat and the strap.
    • The cheekpieces should be tight enough so that the bit is held firmly in place.


  • A hackamore bridle is great for horses that are excellent at voice, and seat commands. Also, once the horse feels the curb chain against their chin like they do with a bit in their mouth, a hackamore might just be worth it.
  • Oil a new bridle first to make it easier to fit.[15]
  • Be sure to take really good care of your bridle and wipe it off after each use so that it will last a long time.
  • If your horse has a tendency to chew on their reins, rubber reins work extremely well as the chewing will not ruin them.


  • Nylon is unbreakable. If you use nylon reins put a weak link at the buckle in case your horse gets caught in them.
  • With the exception of the cavesson, never choose a noseband for appearance or fashion.

Article Info

Categories: Tack (Saddles and Bridles)