Over recent years the hype about anatomical saddlery has taken the equestrian world by storm. We all know the risks of riding in an ill fitting saddle. Thankfully, fitting a bridle is a lot simpler, right? We wish! Unfortunately, just because it looks ok, doesn’t mean it’s right for your horse!
What is an anatomical bridle?
Straight lines are the enemy! If you were to place an old fashioned snaffle bridle alongside an anatomical bridle, there’d likely be some pretty drastic differences. The appearance of an anatomical bridle isn’t about fashion, they’re created to be functional. Each element is shaped and positioned taking into account the bones, nerves, tendons, ligaments and contours that you’d find on a horses head. Putting comfort over tradition, they’re a much welcome twist on a classic. Straying from outdated approaches, they draw upon extensive research and testing. Greatly improving your horses comfort, they allow focus on your aids without distraction!
Think of it like this… Once upon a time we’d get ready for work by dressing in a smart outfit or uniform, which undeniably looked the part. If we’re honest though, we were glad to change out of it when we got home! These days, swapping from our comfortable PJ’s to a casual tee and baggy bottoms for a day in the home office is no hardship at all. The chances are, it’s changed your outlook forever!
Knowing Your Horses Head
The most delicate area of your horse, their head is home to lots of sensitive structures including bones, nerves, ligaments and tendons.
Nerves: The nerves found in your horses head are called the Cranial nerves, they play vital roles in lots of functions including balance, heart rate, hearing, smell, vision, sensation, taste, swallowing and salivation.
Eyes: Unlike humans, horses eyes are on the sides of their head. This means that they have a much wider field of vision, almost 357° in fact. Because of this, some cheekpieces inhibit your horses ability to see properly.
Ears: We all know that a horses ears aren’t just for hearing. Body language is key to equine communication, both with their field buddies and their rider. There’s 16 muscles in your horses ears allowing them to move independently up to 180 °. Bridles that cut straight across the back of the ears press on these muscles, causing discomfort and making it difficult for your horse to behave naturally.
Poll: The ‘poll’ is the area directly behind your horses ears, incorporating the first two vertebrae, many muscle structures, tendons and ligaments. If your horse has an issue with their poll it’s like having a headache – A dull nagging pain that’s physically and mentally debilitating.
Signs Your Bridle Might Be Uncomfortable
Wouldn’t it be nice if our horses could speak – It’s a phrase we’ve all muttered at some point! Sometimes when it comes to saddlery it’s tricky to know which behaviours are simply naughty and which are a sign of pain. When a bridle is causing discomfort it can result in a long list of symptoms including:
- Nostril clamping
- Pinching of the muzzle
- Striking out at the face
- Rubbing the face
- Leaning on the reins
- Resisting bending
- Reluctance to step through from behind
- Refusing at jumps
- Resisting the bridle
Our Top Picks
Horseware® Rambo® Micklem® Original Competition Bridle
More comfortable. More humane! As equestrians we all know someone who swears by using a Micklem. But why? The Horseware Rambo Micklem Original Competition Bridle relieves pressure to prevent discomfort, pain and numbness. The kinder and more sympathetic option for your horse, it’s anatomically designed to:
- Sit higher on the face to reduce pressure on the nasal bones.
- Avoid pressing on the sensitive motor and sensory nerves.
- Prevent damage inside the mouth by avoiding protruding molar teeth.
- Contour to the shape of the face.
- Spread pressure evenly over the poll while avoiding the ears.
PS of Sweden High Jump Revolution Bridle
Horses are all different! The PS of Sweden High Jump Revolution Anatomical Bridle has been specifically designed for those who are pressure sensitive and soft mouthed. If you’ve found your horse is struggling to relax under saddle, this may be exactly what you’ve been looking for! Features of this bridle include:
- A whole new noseband design, shaped to avoid as many facial nerves as possible with bendable bows and soft padding for improved comfort and fit.
- Curved cheekpieces to offer greater clearance across the molars, whilst avoiding rubbing the cheek bones.
- A wide, softly padded headpiece that ensures greater pressure distribution across the poll.
- A cutback headpiece shape allowing the ears freedom to rotate.
- Unique elasticated cradles to suspend the bit in the horses mouth, for a more comfortable contact and improved communication.
Schockemohle Equitus Alpha Bridle
Part of the Schockemohle feel-good Anatomic Line the Equitus Alpha Bridle is designed with one simple goal – Ultimate comfort by less pressure! To achieve this, they’re packed with anatomical features including:
- A softly padded headpiece with a narrow connecting link to bypass the ligament attachments in the poll area.
- A shaped headpiece leaving room for the ears to rotate freely.
- A downward cut throat lash for improved positioning to avoid obstructing the airways.
- A cut-out noseband to create space for the cheek bones and the bit.
- A diagonally cut rear strap providing jaw relief aiding relaxation.
- A pre-shaped design ensuring the bridle is soft and supple for comfort from the first wear.
Collegiate ComFiTec Training Bridle
Comfort isn’t just for competition! Designed for at home wear the Collegiate ComFiTec Anatomical Training Bridle is perfect for day to day use. Designed to be durable, hard wearing and functional, it’s features include:
- An anatomically shaped headpiece to evenly distribute pressure across the poll for comfort.
- A padded crown that is cutback around the ears for freedom of movement.
- A noseband that is ergonomically designed to alleviate pressure on the upper jaw and molar teeth.
- A cheek strap and padded cheek ring placed to reduce pressure on the facial nerves.
PS of Sweden Nirak Combination Bridle
Not all control comes from the bit. The PS of Sweden Nirak Combination Bridle was created for horses that are forward going and strong, working best from nose pressure. Perfect for those that fold in their neck, struggle to relax and avoid the contact. Features of the Nirak include:
- A combination noseband which when used with a suitable bit brings peaceful communication between the horse and rider. Designed to avoid harsh bits for stronger horses, the cheek pieces and noseband are connected. This allows mouth and nose pressure to be used simultaneously.
- A wide, softly padded headpiece with a central air gap to avoid the sensitive areas.
- A cutback headpiece allowing ear movement and freedom of rotation for improved overall comfort.
- Unique elasticated cradles to suspend the bit in the horses mouth for a more consistent contact and improved communication.
We hope that you found this blog helpful. If your horse is showing any symptoms of pain we recommend you contact a professional to further investigate the issue. You can shop all of the products in this blog online at Naylors.com or why not visit us in-store?