Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Eventing bridles, part two

More bridle pictures from the Colorado Horse Park CCI and Horse Trials.

In addition to snaffles and elevator type bits, there were also a lot of horses wearing pelhams. Most of these were fitted with bit converters and used with just one rein.
However, there's an exception to every rule!There were also a number of gag bits in use. The cheekpieces of a gag bridle run through holes in the bit rings and attach directly to the reins. This type of bit works on the horse's mouth and poll simultaneously and is a very powerful bit.
Another gag bit--this one has round leather cheek pieces. Also notable is the very loose throatlatch. I noticed this trend at a dressage show last year, and although it wasn't as prevalent at the event, there were a number of horses tacked up this way.
The rider of this big bay was very friendly and told us that she had recently switched to a Mikmar bit in an attempt to regain her brakes. I lost track of her after her round started, so I don't know if the bit helped or not.
A hackamore/snaffle combination. Typically you don't buy a bridle like this at a tack shop. This is something you cook up at home with bits and pieces from your own tackroom.
Several horses (particularly those competing over the bigger jumps) wore these nasal strips to improve their respiratory function. A note on the full cheek snaffle--at a hunter show, this type of bit would be used with bit keepers. I saw a lot of full cheeks at the event and all of them were keeper free. It's interesting how the little details can vary from one venue to another!
Although there were a lot of brightly colored turnouts, most of the bridles had little to no "bling". This was one of the few exceptions--there's bling on the browband and the sides of the figure eight noseband.
This cute little buckskin had some homemade bling attached to her browband. Her bridle is somewhat unusual in that it has a plain caveson rather than a flash or figure eight.
Of course there is no rule that says you have to use a caveson at all. Just look at this bridle. There is nothing about this that says event horse. In fact, if you used a similar bridle on your model eventer you would likely be penalized.
I don't agree with that. If it's legal in the real world, it should be equally ok in the model horse arena. Still, there's no denying that this is a much more typical event horse look.
Hope this has been helpful. I'm good at bridles, but I've found someone with a lot more eventing knowledge to discuss the rest of the tack and turnout. Look for her guest blogger posts sometime later this month.


  1. I'd bet that red yarn on the buckskin's bridle is because she bites. I was always taught red ribbon in the tail=kicker and red ribbon in the forelock/bridle= biter. I realize they braid gaited horses frequently with red, but usually the difference is clear.

  2. Interesting! I've heard of using a red ribbon in the tail to signal a kicker but the bridle thing is new to me. That buckskin was perhaps my favorite horse of the day. She was not very big but looked like a real powerhouse. I wanted to ride her!

  3. Regarding the loose throatlatches, that's a very good way to lose one's bridle, and I've seen it happen. I certainly wouldn't want an entire bridle flapping around on a loose horse on x-c! I'm guessing they're doing it to "allow the horse to breathe" but the throatlatch can be fastened tighter than the loose ones shown quite comfortably for the horse and it's much safer all around.

  4. Wow Jennifer, you are a great photographer. Such clear shots of everything. I'm impressed.

    As a former tack shop owner, I am still fascinated by all the different get-ups people use to try and get the most from their horses. I can see that you love it also. Fun stuff! And glad you got WHIRLWIND!

  5. I loved the bay with the Mikmar...SUCH a big, PRETTY bay guy. And I want the blingy bridle but Flick came with his own bling so it's complete overkill on him.

  6. I saw a hackamore/snaffle that looked just like that one at the Grand Prix last Saturday - I didn't realize that hackamores were legal in a jumper class, so it took me a minute to realize what I was looking at. They were using a bit connector with it, which seems like a really weird idea. Same big fluffy noseband, too.

    You do take really good tack pictures - what's your camera/lens setup like? I have a terrible time with horse photography. I did finally learn how to catch a horse at the perfect moment over a fence, though - I don't watch the horse at all, I just listen. For some reason if I listen I can "feel" the horse picking his spot, while if I watch, I always shoot too soon or too late.

  7. All these photos were taken with a Nikon D50 camera and a Sigma 75-300mm lens.

    Years ago, I used to hang out with one of the professional photographers who followed the A show hunter/jumper circuit. He gave me a lot of pointers in regards to shooting horses over fences, and I still use all those techniques today.

  8. There's nothing illegal bit-wise in the jumper division. Also, the hackamore and bit combo is hardly a new idea.

    (Tugs up old lady pants)

    Paul Schockemöhle rode Deister in a similar set up back in the '80's. *And* if I'm not mistaken, he used a converter and one rein.

  9. I remember looking for a dressage bridle (and even a nice plain havana bridle) for my eventer and being frustrated that all bridles had a flash! Not every eventer ties their horse's mouth closed.

    I understand sometimes it becomes necessary, but when you see young horses going BN and Novice and already have their mouths strapped shut, you want to shake the rider and tell them to try training the horse correctly, so he accepts the bit and doesn't constantly resist. Just because he can't gape to show his unhappiness doesn't mean the situation has improved for him!

    OK, rant over, sorry.

    1. Totally agree. Look how much happier the horses in the pelhams and the mikmar ar compared to the snaffles with the nosebands keeping their mouths shut. A lot of horses hate the nutcracker action of the snaffle and a lot are trying to evade heavy hands, so strapping the mouths shut is just a coverup for those. Love the rider with the double reins ... it's better to ride a horse on the curb with tact. Kudos.

  10. I agree with Bif and kind of want to shake the rider that went to a more severe bit to "get her brakes back". What happens when horsey runs through that bit too? Where does the bit escalation stop? If you need some kind of crazy elevator (saw somebody riding on the sixth ring once- ouch!) or gag to get control, something is badly wrong. Severe bits as a cure for lack of control and communication are just putting a temporary band-aid on the problem.

  11. Hey! I little late but some input on why the throat latches were so loose. I ride mostly dressage so my trainer tells me to keep them 2-3 fingers looser than you normally would. She explained to me once that there is actually something in back in that area that when pinched (this is the same with the buckles on flashes, too) that it can cause a horse to throw their head up. In dressage, as you know, you have to keep your horse round and on the bit, and any extra tossing can be a great problem! I'm not sure if thats 100% true or not, but I respect my trainer a lot and assume she wouldn't make that up. :)

  12. I know this is an older post but was wondering about the bit on the horse without a nose band, is it a driving bit.

  13. Actually, that's a Baucher bit. I'm not an expert on driving (not even close!) so I won't say if this bit is used in that discipline or not. However, I do know that it's a fairly common riding bit, particularly among the dressage crowd. Here's a nice summary of how it works.

  14. Those nasal strips are hilarious! I knew they had them for people, but horses...makes me think of my dad!

    While I do understand why, I don't see how they got that strip to stick to the horses fur. Even though they may not have a lot of hair near their nose, they still do. If it's strong enough to stick to hair, how do they get it off of the horse?

  15. I have never used them, so I really don't know how they are to apply or remove. It seems like removal would be something like ripping off a bandaid--unpleasant but not truly painful. Just guessing, though. At this stage in my riding career, I really do not have to worry about this sort of equipment!