How To Bridle a Horse

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In order to ride your horse, you will have to bridle them.  The bridle is a piece of equipment that is used to direct a horse and consists of the bit and reins.  

How To Bridle a Horse

To put a bridle on your horse, you need to start with your horse-halter on and the horse to be safely tied.  You can use cross-ties or have them tied with a lead rope with a quick-release knot.  Some will bridle their horse when they are untied but if there are a lot of people around it could be a problem.  You do not want your horse to get loose among other people and horses as this could cause an accident.

Once you have your horse safely tied, brush away any girt or dirt on the horse’s face.  

1. Secure Your Horse

The first thing you do is undo the halter and slide the noseband down over the nose.  Net you slip the crown back up over their ears.  This will help to secure your horse briefly why you are putting the bridle on.  Stand beside the horse’s neck, facing forward.  The bridle should be in your left hand.  Slip the reins up over the neck of your horse.  Now you have both the halter and reins around the neck in case they try to getaway.

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2. Slide The Bit In The Horse’s Mouth

Using your right hand, hold the bridle up over the horse’s nose; using your left fingers, move the bit against their lips.  Insert your thumb into the space between the front and back teeth.  This is called the bars of the mouth.  If the horse is resistant to taking the bit, wiggle your thumb.  This may encourage him to open their mouth wider.  When the horse’s mouth is open wide enough, slide the bit in, lifting the bridle higher with your left hand.  

This is done so the horse cannot spit the bit back out.  When you put the bit in, make sure that you are careful and do not knock it on the horse’s teeth.  With practice, you will be able to do it in one smooth motion.

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3. Put The Crown Over The Left Ear, Then The Right Ear

Grasp the crown of the bridle with your left hand.  Using your right hand, gently bend the right ear of the horse forward to slip it under the crown.  Switch the grasp of the crown to your right hand, using your left hand to gently slip the horse’s left eat under the crown.

Make sure that you do not pull the bridle too high because this will pull on the horse’s mouth.  You also do not want to bend the ears uncomfortably.

4. Fasten All The Snaps Or Buckles

The first one to do is the throat latch.  At the throat latch, the endurance bridle has a snap.  Most of the traditional leather bridles will have buckles.  Do not do the throat latch too tight because you want to make sure that the horse can flex their neck properly.  You should leave about four inches of slack.  Between the horse’s jaw and the strap, you should be able to slip in the width of your hand.

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Unless you are using a special noseband, like a flash, figure-eight, or grakle noseband, you should leave about two fingers width between the lower jaw and the strap when you do up the cavesson or noseband.  If you are using a curb bit, you will need to do up the curb strap or chain.  Between the jaw and the chain, there should be a width of two fingers.

If it is left too tight or too loose, it can make the action of the chain or bit more severe.  It could rotate up and hurt the top of the horse’s mouth if the bit has a port.  Slip the halter off and tidy the forelock and mane.  You are now ready for your ride.  

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Removing The Bridle

When you are done with your ride and ready to remove the bridle, slip the halter back over their ears as you did when bridling the horse.  Make sure that the halter is attached to a lead rope or cross tie so you have some control over the horse.  Undo the throat latch, curb chain, and noseband.  Using your left hand, reach under the neck of the horse and slide the crown over the horse’s ears.

Gently lower the bit out of the horse’s mouth, again being careful not to knock their teeth.  Using your right hand, slip the halter on properly.  To completely remove the bridle, take the reins up over the neck of the horse completely.

Making Sure The Bit Is In The Right Position

Some say that the correct bit position can be determined by using the wrinkle method.  This means that you have to look at the horse’s mouth and count the number of wrinkles it has in the corner of the mouth to where the bit meets the mouth.  The more wrinkles the horse’s mouth has, the more constant pressure it will experience from the bit.  The horse will also feel it more when you pull back on the reins.  You do not want too many wrinkles in the mouth or the bit will become unbearably painful.

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How many constitutes an appropriate amount of wrinkles varies from one to two.  Some horsemen say that if the horse has no wrinkles in the corner of the mouth, it could mean that the bit is sitting too low in the mouth.  If the bit is too loose in the horse’s mouth, there is a risk of it hitting the horse’s teeth as you ride.


  • After removing the bridle, you should clean it before you put it away.
  • The bridle needs to be put on the horse before you can saddle the horse. 
  • If you have never bridled a horse before, have someone experienced show you how and then watch you make sure that you are doing it correctly.