Be honest, when was the last time you took your bridle apart to clean it properly? We won’t tell anyone if you don’t! As equestrians we often put off cleaning our tack until it’s absolutely essential. While cleaning your saddle is usually a quick and easy task, bridles can be a little more tricky. So, whether it’s been a while or it’s your first time we’re here to help you through the process!
Why take it apart?
Disassembling your horse’s bridle is a lot of unnecessary hassle, right? Wrong! While it is a pain, It’s definitely worth it and here’s why:
Used to secure excess leather once the buckles are fastened, keepers are essential. Unfortunately, as anyone who’s cleaned a well-used bridle will tell you, keepers get dirty! Depending on your bridle they can create tiny pressure points where they push against the skin. Whilst this is unlikely to cause discomfort to your horse it does mean they collect grease, dirt and hair. This is almost impossible to remove without unfastening the straps and taking your bridle apart.
Buckles & Stitching
Fingers crossed it’s never happened to you… but tack malfunctions can and do happen. Sometimes a result of damaged buckles or billet hooks, sometimes a result of a manufacturing error or old stitching but almost always preventable! When your bridle is intact it’s impossible to check every element for faults. The time you spend cleaning your bridle is one of your opportunities to check for damage such as rusty metal or frayed thread, before it causes a problem.
Even if it’s just for a week or two we’ve all stored our tack at some point. Did you know that this is a prime time for damage to occur? When kept in damp conditions like the yard tack room or hung outside your stable the leather can become mouldy or even rotten. Over time this can weaken the structure increasing the risk of the leather breaking.
Your tack is stored in perfect conditions so there’s no risk, right? We wish! When you unfasten your horses girth you can always tell which holes are used the most… Bridles are much the same. Vital to holding your horses bridle together buckles will always place a certain amount of strain on the leather, no matter how well it fits. With years of use this can weaken the leather, so it’s always better to check!
Disassembling A Bridle
To take your horses bridle apart unfasten each of the buckles and separate it in to individual parts. As you may already know a traditional English bridle when complete is made up of 7 key parts:
- The headpiece (sometimes called a crown piece);
- The browband;
- The throatlash;
- The cheek pieces (x2);
- The nose band;
- The bit;
- And the reins.
What you’ll need…
Before you get started, here’s what you’ll need to clean and condition your horses bridle:
- Place the bit in a bucket of warm water to soak. This will soften any dirt making it easier to wipe off.
- Use the warm water to dampen a sponge. Squeeze any excess water out of the sponge before using it. Wipe down all the pieces of the bridle to remove sweat, dirt and grease.
- Allow the leather to dry naturally before applying saddle soap. This will help to remove any stubborn dirt or grease left over.
Top Tip: Using too much water when you clean leather can cause the collagen fibres to swell stretching and weakening the leather.
Allow the cleaner to soak in and dry before applying a conditioner. Designed to keep your tack supple, conditioners will feed the leather leaving it nourished and shiny.
Assembling Your Bridle
- The first step to putting your horses bridle back together is to place the headpiece on your bridle rack with the throatlash on the left.
- Thread the browband onto the headpiece so that it is curving out towards you.
- Fasten the throat lash to the leather strap at the back of the headpiece (fastening this now will make it easier to attach the cheek pieces).
- Fasten your horse’s noseband and hold it so that the long strap which goes behind your horse’s ears is on the left. Thread the strap up through both sides of the browband so it sits on the inside. Fasten the buckle and place the excess through the keepers.
- Now that the noseband is attached you can add the cheek pieces. Both cheek pieces are the same so it doesn’t matter which goes on the left and which goes on the right. Using the buck at the top fasten the cheek pieces the the remaining two straps which should be be at the front of the headpiece ensuring to place the excess through the keepers.
- Now it’s time to re-attach the bit. To ensure that the bit is facing the correct way check that it is curving away from you. If you’ve got a jointed bit you should be able to close it by bringing the two tings together. To fasten the billet hooks run the leather through both keepers. Line up the hole and then push the leather down over the hook. Once the hook is through the hole pull down on the bit lightly to ensure it’s secure before repeating with the other side.
- To re-attach the reins to your bridle place the centre buckle over the middle of the headpiece. Ensuring that there are no twists fasten it to the outside of bit.
Top Tip: If your unsure which was something should be attached, billet hooks should always face towards your horse whereas buckles should always face away.
You’re all done! We hope that you’ve found this information helpful. If you have any questions please leave a comment, give our customer service team a call on 01706 507555 or visit us in-store.