A Bridle For The Horse

Elaine Sutton
• Sunday, 29 November, 2020
• 8 min read

Headgear without a bit that uses a nose band to control a horse is called a sycamore, or, in some areas, a witless bridle. There are many designs with many name variations, but all use a nose band that is designed to exert pressure on sensitive areas of the animal's face to provide direction and control.

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The cheek pieces run down the sides of the horse's face. The bridle consists of the following elements: It is the main strap that holds the remaining parts of the bridle in place.

It prevents the bridle from sliding behind the poll onto the upper neck, and holds multiple headstalls together when a caves son or second bit is added, and holds the throat latch in place on designs where it is a separate strap. In certain sports, such as dressage and Saddle seat, decorative brow bands are sometimes fashionable.

It is often used to keep the animal's mouth closed, or to attach other pieces or equipment, such as martingales. Because it has a separate headstall (also called slip head), a caves son can be adjusted with greater precision; a nose band that is simply attached to the same cheek pieces that hold the bit cannot be raised or lowered.

In Saddle seat riding, the caves son is often brightly colored and matches the brow band. Frontera, a strap running from the brow band to the nose band, primarily seen on bridles of certain South American designs.

Reins are often laced, braided, have stops, or are made of rubber or some other tacky material to provide extra grip. On a double bridle, where the horse carries two bits (a curb and small snaffle, often called a bit and Brandon “), a second, smaller headstall, known as a 'Brandon hanger' or ‘slip head’ is used to attach the Brandon.

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Provides no leverage, but because open-faced bridles have no caves son to prevent the horse from gaping its mouth open, it prevents the bit rings from being pulled through the mouth if strong pressure is applied. Serves to stabilize the bit, prevent a lasso or other object from being caught on the shanks.

Over checks are also sometimes used on riding horses, especially ponies, to keep them from grazing while being ridden by a small child who may lack the physical strength or skill to raise the animal's head up. It is a basic bridle that carries one bit and usually has one set of reins.

Double bridles are usually only seen used in upper level dressage, in Saddle seat riding, and for showing in certain other events that require formal attire and equipment. The crown piece, brow band and throat latch are all sewn onto a ring near the horse's ears on each side of the head.

Gag bridle : a bridle with rounded cheek pieces that pass through the top and bottom holes in the bit ring of a gag bit and attach directly to the reins. Tension on the reins rotates the bit and slides it up the cheek pieces and into the corners of the lips.

They are often seen in polo, rodeo speed events, and occasionally show jumping. A sycamore, put simply, is headgear that controls a horse via pressure points on the face, usually with a nosepiece instead of a bit.

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(Source: www.wikihow.com)

Witless bridles are similar to sycamores, but some designs use different leverage principles for control. Sycamores and witless bridles use a headstall with reins attached to some type of nose band or nosepiece.

English riders sometimes use a jumping caves son or “jumping sycamore” that is basically a leather side pull nose band reinforced internally with a cable, with rein rings attached. The so-called mechanical sycamore or “sycamore bit” is basically a hybrid bridle /sycamore made up of a nose band with shanks and a curb strap or chain that can put considerable leverage on the jaw and poll.

One common design connects the reins to a loop that passes from the nose band, under the jaw, and up around the poll, returning on the opposite side back under the jaw to the nose band and out to the other rein. Some riders, not realizing that a horse's head overall is a very sensitive area, use a noseband-based style of headgear without the same caution they might use with a bit, thus defeating any benefit that an apparently milder form of gear would otherwise provide.

The most visible difference is that they usually include partial eye coverings called blinders, blinkers or winkers that restrict the horse's peripheral vision. They are stitched into the cheek pieces of a driving bridle and sometimes bear a monogram or badge.

Winkers may be square, reshaped, hatchet-shaped, or round, and are adjusted to fit clear of the center of the horse's eye. The nose band is fitted into the bridle so has a certain amount of action, and is not on a separate headstall (also called slip head) as is a caves son.

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Harness bridles may feature a fancy brow band, rosettes, and other ornamentation. The reins can be attached in any of the three slots along the shanks, resulting in a snaffle or curb action as required.

This arrangement is designed to prevent rein pressure interfering with the position of the winkers. The length of each piece of the bridle needs to be individually adjusted to fit the horse's head.

The sizes may have different names, but in the USA and Canada they are often called “cob” and horse for small and large animals, sometimes with “pony”, “mini”, “warm blood” and “draft” sizes in some designs. The bit and brow band are of set lengths and must be selected in the correct size.

One that is slightly too wide can be narrowed to some extent by adding a pair of bit guards. The cheek pieces are adjusted not only so that the bit avoids the extremes of pulling the corners of the horse's mouth or banging the horse's incisors, but also, so it hangs properly in the mouth for the specific riding discipline and a bit design involved.

The adjustment of the nose band depends on the type used, but needs to be snug enough to be effective, yet loose enough to avoid discomfort. If a horse must be tied to an object, a halter should be placed under or over the bridle, and the cross-ties should be attached to halter rings rather than the bitt is unsafe to tie a horse using a bridle for two main, seemingly contradictory, reasons.

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First, if the tied animal pulls back on the bridle, the bit or controlling nose band (such as a basal or mechanical sycamore) may cause considerable pain or even injury to the mouth, tongue, or other facial structures of the animal even if the bridle breaks. Second, compared to halters, most bridles are made of thin leather which will easily break under pressure.

In addition, tying with a slipknot that can be released by pulling on the end of the lead rope is a key safety tactic. Historically, it was a useful skill if a rider had to momentarily dismount and perform a task that required both hands (such as removing brush or fixing a fence) in a remote area where tying was impracticable.

A rope, cord, or strap with a noose or head-stall, by which horses or cattle are led or fastened up.” Oxford English Dictionary, online edition ^ Miller, Robert M. and Rick Lamb.

There is a big difference in horses and how they are “made”, “trained”, “started”, or finished. The end result of a true bridle horse is called “straight up in the bridle ”.

This means to have a horse educated enough that he can be ridden and work in a spade bit. Although the path may change from person to person the most common sequence is snaffle bit, sycamore, two reins and then straight up . Rushing never worked with animals, Horses and cows don’t wear watches.

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(Source: horsesidevetguide.com)

The goal of the Vaquero was to get a horse that worked one-handed (since they needed to rope) with the lightest of cues. The spade bit that is traditionally associated with the Vaqueros was intended not to be harsh (despite their appearance) but, rather, to communicate very subtle cues from the rider to the horse.

A working bridle horse will look very similar to a Dressage horse in that it operates in a very collected manner. The cues to collect are mainly seat and legs with only a miniscule input from the reins.

The traditional Vaquero training procedure was to start a young horse (about 3 years) in the snaffle bit and start teaching it to work off a direct rein. This moves the cues from the cheeks to below the jaw and starts to prepare the horse for the feel of the spade bit.

Despite the apparent size of the spade it DOES NOT jab the horse in the roof of the mouth. The side of the spoon (the end of the port) presses against the roof of the mouth over a fairly large area.

The other parts of the bit like the roller (called a cricket) in the port are intended to give the horse something to play with their tongue and help keep the mouth wet. The braces (curved wires going from the hinge at the cheek piece to the spoon are intended to help keep the horse from ever getting its tongue over the bit.

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However, there is much comparison to European riding after the mid-1800’s since the Vaquero style evolved because of the needs of working cattle on the large land-grant ranches in California. Further definition OS the sycamore, a witless bridle worn in a horse’s first phase of training.

During this period the rider and mount learn to communicate with each other without the use of force, and without the metal bit that is rough on a young horse’s ultrasensitive mouth. Subtle body cues are exchanged as horse and human progress together.

They are more forgiving in nature, breath as they should and adjust to the shape and temperature of the animal. The sycamore, as we are discussing in this article, is the piece of equipment used alone, in the earlier stages of training.

Only the passing on from one generation to the next, there are no books that truly explain the delicate use of the spade bit. The standard curb, the Texas-born grazing bits, the Buster Belches and the new flexing “broken ports” are but a few examples of the low port leverage bits of our modern day.

A leverage bit works predominantly off of pressure on the curb strap. This is supported by the fact that leverage bits typically have a low port and are often coupled with a chain curb strap to increase the intensity of the pressure when needed.

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Since it is the pulling or in some cases yanking on the reins that immediately engages the curb strap or chain A rider’s goal when using a leverage bit is to engage the curb strap as quickly as possible to achieve the expected results, that is to stop or at least slow down.

The long tapering port, complete with spoon, cricket and copper covered braces is configured in such a way as to encourage and allow the horse to “pick up” the bit in his mouth and “carry it.” That sensitivity would not remain if the process of making a spade bit horse was severe.

The book is not painful, it merely reminds her to maintain a posture required for the dance. So many are happy with just riding and not becoming refined this is a choice each of us make of wanting to stay where you are in your horsemanship or go further and learn more about you and your horse and truly become one.

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