How to Put a Bridle on a Horse

horses in a field

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To put a bridle on a horse, start with your horse--halter on and safely tied. You may have him in cross-ties or tied with a lead rope with a panic snap or quick-release knot. Some people like to have their horses untied, but that can be a problem in public stables where there are a lot of people around. You don't want your horse to get loose among other horses and people when in the stable, as this could lead to accidents. Make sure you use a safety knot if you are not using cross-ties. You'll also want to brush away any dirt or grit on the horse's face. Getting ready to ride should always start with grooming

  1. Secure Your Horse

    Undo the halter, slide the nose band of the halter down over the horse’s nose and slip the crown back up over the horse’s ears. This will secure your horse briefly while you put the bridle on. Stand beside his neck, facing forward with the bridle in your left hand. Slip the reins up over the horse’s neck. You now have both reins and halter around the horse's neck, should it try to get away.

    Removing the Halter from the head
    K. Blocksdorf
  2. Slide the Bit In The Horse's Mouth

    Hold the bridle up over the horse's nose with your right hand. Using your left-hand fingers, move the bit against his lips, and insert your thumb into the space between the front and back teeth, called the bars of the mouth. If he is resistant to taking the bit, wiggling your thumb may encourage him to open his mouth wider. Slide the bit in, and lift the bridle higher with your left hand so the horse can’t spit the bit back out. Be careful not to knock the bit on the horse’s teeth. Eventually, you'll be able to do this in one smooth motion.

    Sliding the bit into the horses mouth
    K. Blocksdorf
  3. Pull the Crown Over The Left Ear

    Grasp the crown of the bridle with your left hand and with your right hand gently bend the horse's right ear forward to slip it under the crown.

    Crown over the ears.
    2005 K. Blocksdorf
  4. Pull The Crown Over the Right Ear

    Switch your grasp of the crown of the bridle again to your right hand and with your left gently slip the left ear under the crown. Try not to pull the bridle too high, thus pulling on the horse's mouth. Be careful not to bend your horse's ears uncomfortably.

    Pull Crown Over the Right Ear
    K. Blocksdorf
  5. Fasten All the Buckles or Snaps

    Do up the throat latch of the bridle. This endurance bridle has a snap at the throat latch. Most traditional leather bridles will have buckles. So that your horse can flex his neck properly don't do the throat latch-up tightly; leave about 4 inches slack. You should be able to slip the width of your hand, between the strap and your horse’s jaw.

    Unless you are using a special noseband, such as a figure-eight, flash, or grakle noseband, leave about two fingers width between the lower jaw and the strap when you do up the noseband or cavesson. If you are using a curb bit, you’ll need to do up the curb chain or strap. Leave the width of two fingers between the chain and the lower jaw. Leaving the chain too loose or tight can make the action of the bit or the chain more severe. If the bit has a port it could rotate up and hurt the top of the horse’s mouth.

    Slip the halter off, tidy your horse's mane and forelock, and you are ready to go. Some people like the forelock under the browband, some leave it over top. 

    Fasten All the Buckles or Snaps
    K. Blocksdorf
  6. Removing the Bridle

    Remove the bridle by slipping the halter (attached to a cross tie or lead rope) back over the horse's ears as in Step Two. Undo the throat latch, curb chain and noseband. With your left hand, reach under the horse's neck and slide the crown over the horse's ears. Holding it as you did in step three, gently lower the bit out of the horse's mouth. Be careful not to knock his teeth. With your right hand, slip the halter on properly and take the reins up over the horse's neck to completely remove the bridle. After, use you may wish to clean your bridle, or at least wipe the bit to tidy it up before hanging it away.

    Hands removing bridle from the horse
    K. Blocksdorf