Before putting on a bridle for the first time, put a head collar on first. Move the horse’s quarters into a corner of the box. Let the horse sniff this new thing. If the horse is worried by bridling or tacking up in general and turns away into a corner, presenting its hindquarters to you each time you approach, take a handful of food or a carrot with you to encourage the horse to look forward to your coming.
Remove the noseband from the bridle then hold the bridle up against the horse‘s head to get a rough idea of fit. Undo all the keepers so that you can quickly readjust the bridle when it is on.
As you lift the bridle with your right hand, keep it well away from the horse‘s eyes. Use the finger and thumb of your left hand to ease the bit into the mouth. being careful not to bang it against the teeth. Slip the headpiece carefully over the ears (by pointing the ears forward, not folding them in half and tugging them through as so many people do).
Adjust the bridle. Open the mouth a little to see where the joint of the bit is lying. It is better to have it too high than too low to avoid the horse getting its tongue over the bit.
If the horse is afraid of its ears being touched, undo the nearside cheekpiece and remove the browband completely, or slip the nearside loop out so that the headpiece does not have to be passed over the ears.
If you use an ordinary cavesson noseband with the bridle, it should lie two fingers’ width below the projecting cheekbone and you should be able to insert two fingers inside the noseband. If you use a drop noseband, it must lie well clear of the nostrils, resting right up on the bony part of the nose, and also be loose enough to insert two fingers.
Make sure the cavesson noseband is fitted high enough so that the corner of the top lip is not pinched between the noseband and the bit when you feel on the reins. This is often only noticeable when you are using the reins, so ask someone to check this for you when you apply the rein. Such pinching can cause sore lips, head tossing or even rearing and often the rider is totally unaware of the cause.
As you take the bridle off over the ears with one hand, keep the other hand on the nose until the bit is safely out of the mouth. This will prevent the horse from throwing up its head, causing the bit to bang against its teeth and frightening it or even getting caught behind its front teeth, especially the tushes. Incidents like this upset the horse and make it run back. It will also expect pain every time the bridle is removed.
Stand the horse with its hindquarters in a corner as you take its bridle off, so that it cannot run back.
When using a bridle with a lungeing cavesson, put the bridle on first. The cavesson headpiece then goes over the top of the bridle headpiece, but the padded nosepiece of the cavesson should do up inside the bridle cheekpieces, so that there is a smooth, snug fit. The Wels-type lungeing cavesson is fitted below the bit, just like a drop noseband. With both types, it is easier if you remove the leather noseband from the bridle.
Either take the bridle reins off completely or twist them, one over the other, under the neck until there are no loops hanging down loose, then pass the throatlash through one loop and do it up. This keeps the reins safe and secure and is better than looping them twice round the horse’s neck from where they can slip off over the ears if the horse suddenly bucks or lowers its head.