Monday, August 10, 2009

Dressage braids and bridles

Here's another group of pictures from the 2009 edition of the Dressage in Rockies show at the Colorado Horse Park in Parker, Colorado. Instead of focusing on the horses themselves, today I'm looking more closely at the way they're dressed for the showring.

Like show hunters, most lower level dressage horses are shown with braided manes. However, unlike the hunters, there is no one standard look to those braids. The size and number of the braids varied widely, and I suspect that most of the horses were braided by their owners rather than a professional braider. This was probably the most common look.
And again.
A few horses had white tape over the braids.
Unlike most of the other horses, this Hanoverian's braids were on the left side of his neck.
These braids are a bit more hunterlike, in both size and quantity.
This is a basic lower level dressage bridle. It is very much like a hunter bridle, but is usually black in color and often includes a flash noseband. The bit is attached to the bridle with buckles rather than studhooks and the reins are webbed rather than laced. Eggbutts and loose rings are the bits of choice.
Bling-y browbands are very popular with the dressage crowd.
Another one. This horse is also wearing a "crank" noseband. See the rings under the bit? They allow the rider to more easily tighten the noseband.
Subdued bling on the Connemara's browband.
Still more bling.
The flash attachment has been removed from the Friesian's bridle, but you can still see the little loop that would attach it to the noseband. Although most of the horses do wear a flash attachment, it's not required.
Something that is required is a bridle number. Teresa referenced bridle numbers in her "How to Lose a Class at NAN" post, and you can clearly see that the size of the bridle number is larger than the horse's eye.
In some cases, it's a lot larger!
This show provided the competitors with only one bridle number, and most of the horses wore it on the left side of their bridle. However, there were a few exceptions. I have scoured the web looking for definite rules regarding bridle number placement and have come up empty. It seems that the left side is most common, but all that is required is that the number is easily visible to the judge and scribe. Probably it's easier to just use two numbers on your model dressage horse, but if you're like me and prone to losing things...
And look--just because it's called a bridle number doesn't mean it actually has to go on the bridle!
I think I'm done with the dressage pictures now. Hope someone found this helpful!


  1. That's really interesting that the number got pinned to a saddle pad; wasn't there a penalty for it?

  2. Nope, no penalty. I actually found a web forum where someone asked if you could put the bridle number on your saddle pad and consensus seemed to be that it was fine. Anywhere is fine as long as it's visible to the judge and scribe.

    This is exactly the sort of fine point that I think model horse people spend way too much time stressing over! :)

  3. Some horses may not like the number on their head (why, not sure). I don't know if that particular number has the bridle hanger on it either. (I should check out the 6 - 9 hanging around tomorrow at the barn.)

    And all those people with bling brow bands do NOT have horses with big, bald faces. *grrrr*

    I want blingy but Flick has enough for all of us.

  4. Just another note on bridle numbers, my mare didn't like her ears touched, so she wasn't found of the bridle number being on her bridle. So we often put it on my boot, which is perfectly acceptable. I also had a pad that had slots to put numbers in, and you can do it that way too. Oh! I see a lot of models with round bridle numbers, but they are almost always oval. ;)

  5. I did I did! I don't know a lot of insider knowledge about the hunter/dressage/jumper set so this is very helpful! Thank you!

  6. Nice photos Jen! I might have been ring stewarding for part of that show! :)

    The different braid styles are interesting, even the number of braids. Can see that dressage braids are usually close against the curve of the neck.

    I have not seen numbers on both sides of the bridle, but there is probably not a rule against it. When 2 numbers are given out the 2nd one is for the halter. Horses are required to wear their numbers at all times while on the grounds, and a 2nd number for the halter is convenient so as not to have to switch with the bridle. (Dressage normally doesn't allow non-competing horses on the grounds, unlike h/j/e where they sometimes tag along.)

    And yep the number can be worn elsewhere, visibly, to accomodate horses that won't tolerate seeing something out of the corner of their eye. Sometimes numbers are also seen on the front of a breastplate if a horse is wearing one.

    Enjoyed the pics! :)

  7. As a dressage competitor when the opportunity pops up locally, I've found that most lower level dressage prospects (including mine)are off the track racehorses... the number simply looks like a blinker, and well quite frankly, you really don't want your ex-racehorse carrying on like he still is one at a dressage comp! My old boy had been off the track 10 years and he still royally flips out when anything resembling his racing past comes near him - something obstructing his view, extremely hyped up horses, float boots... you name it. I always rode him to the local show, and if we have to travel, we went the day before and camped, a tradition we still keep on after he's been retired!

  8. I've never seen it pinned to the saddle pad. Might be something to try if I can't get my bridle number to stay!