A couple months back, Teresa and I spent a day at Arapahoe Park in Aurora, Colorado. I took my usual several hundred pictures and planned to come home and write a post or two on racehorse tack. Unfortunately, I don't actually know a lot about racehorse tack so this project kept getting put off and put off until I forget about it entirely.
I rediscovered the Arapahoe Park pictures as I was preparing to start work on Erin's race tack set earlier this week. I'm still not an expert on all things race related, but these pictures are too good not to share. Here's my best noncomprehensive take on racing bridles.
Most racehorses wear a simple English type bridle made of leather, biothane or nylon.
Unlike most riding bridles, the racehorse bridle does not feature a one piece crown. Instead, the throatlatch is an entirely separate piece. Bits attach to the headstall via buckles and the usually there is no adjustment buckle on the right side cheekpiece.
Lots of the bridles feature a matchy matchy color scheme, but occasionally you see something that looks like it was cobbled together from pieces of many different bridles.
Proving there's an exception for every rule, this bridle looks like a regular hunter bridle with a one piece crown and raised browband and noseband.
Nearly every horse wore some sort of noseband.
The fuzzy cover on this filly's noseband is called a shadow roll. She also has a flash noseband attachment.
A couple horses wore figure eight nosebands. This one is made out of some kind of tubing.
Lots of horses also wore blinker hoods. These go on over the browband but under the cheekpieces.
This blinker hood has ear covers.
Most of the bits you see at the track are of the snaffle persuasion and are fitted with a loose curb strap. These can include D-rings,
and even a Western styled snaffle or two.
Another very common racetrack bit is the Dexter ring bit. I was not personally familiar with this bit so I had to do a little research on it. This led me to the wonderful Rock and Racehorses blog which is written by photographer, Sarah K. Andrew.
She describes the Dexter ring bit like this: The ring bit has two mouthpieces: one jointed snaffle mouthpiece and one ring that encircles the horse’s lower jaw. The snaffle portion of the bit can have metal, plastic or rubber coating and the ring is metal. The cheekpieces are of varying shapes, as are the metal “spoons” below the mouth. A ring bit is commonly used on strong horses since it adds stopping power. The bit also increases steering power since a rider has the added leverage on the horse’s lower jaw.
Reins can attach to the bit with either buckles or loops and will always have rubber hand grips. Most jockeys will tie a knot at the end of the reins as pictured in the photo below.
Saddles tomorrow? Or perhaps lead ponies or pictures of the horses in the Arabian race? Let me know what you like to see!