Combination Bridles Explained

combination bridles

The Norton or Citation

This bridle has two mouthpieces: a loose-ring, thin wire jointed overcheck and a loose-ring jointed bradoon. The cheekpieces of the bridle attach to the rings of an overcheck. The reins attach to the rings of the bradoon. Around the mouthpiece of the overcheck are two metal fixtures that carry a nosepiece. This is a severe bridle combining very thin snaffle mouthpieces with nose and poll pressure. As the reins are used, the cheeks of the overcheck are pushed into the horse’s face and the joint is forced up into the roof of the mouth. The more the bradoon pulls back in the mouth the more pressure is brought to bear on the nose and the corners of the mouth.

How to fit the Norton or Citation

The bits must be high enough in the corners of the mouth to just cause a wrinkle and you should be able to place your index finger on each side of the horse’s face between the corner of the lips and the bit rings. The nosepiece should be snug against the horse’s nose, without pulling the bits forward in the mouth, and fitted as high as possible so as too interfere as little as possible with the horse’s breathing. A face strap runs down the horse’s face, divides, and supports the noseband at the height at which a drop noseband should be fitted.

The Newmarket

The Newmarket usually has a Wilson snaffle with a mullen or jointed mouthpiece with a leather nosepiece attached to the floating rings and supported by small straps connecting to the cheekpiece of the bridle. It is used with two sets of reins so that when the snaffle rein is used the bit acts as a snaffle with the added severity of the floating rings pushing in on the sides of the horse’s face, this happens mainly with the jointed snaffle and not with the mullen.

How to fit the newmarket

When the reins are attached to the floating rings more pressure is transferred to the nose. In a less severe form the nosepiece is attached to the front of an ordinary snaffle so that by tightening the nosepiece you can take away a lot of pressure from the mouth. Both types of nosepiece can be adjusted so that the pressure can be transferred from the mouth to the nose or a combination of both in differing degrees.

The Rockwell

This bridle uses the same type of nosepiece as the Citation but has only one bit. It can be a loose-ring jointed snaffle or even a snaffle with a medium-ported or mullen mouthpiece. The nosepiece has two rings that attach to the mouthpiece between the corner of the horse’s lip and the cheek of the bit and is adjustable so that the rider can apply more or less nose pressure. As the rein is applied the bit is pulled back in the mouth and the action is on the corners of the lips and the nose if a jointed snaffle is used, and on the tongue, the bars of the mouth and the nose if a mullen mouth is used.

How to fit the ockwell

The bit must be the right size for the  mouth as the rings of the nosepiece sit right next to the corners of the lips: too narrow a bit would certainly cause rubbing. The nosepiece should sit as high as possible on the nose without pulling the bit up in the horse’s mouth and is supported by a face strap.

Combination nose bridle and bit

This is often an American gag with a hackamore front attached which has the combined effect of a gag plus strong nose and poll pressure. The bridle must be of good quality because badly made versions tend to have the nose-piece far too long which allows the nosepiece to drop too far down the nose causing severe discomfort.

How to fit the combination nose bridle and bit

As with all bridles using downward nose pressure, the nosepiece must not be fitted too low and a careful check of all pressure points for possible bruising and rubbed places needs to be made constantly. The bit should fit neatly into the corners of the mouth following the principles of fitting a loose-ring snaffle. The nosepiece should sit comfortably on the face above the soft fleshy part of the nose not on the nostrils. Extra padding may be needed at the back of the noseband to prevent rubbing. You may find that you have to have shorter cheekpieces on the bridle to ensure the noseband fits at the level of a cavesson noseband.

The Scawbrigg

This simple form of bitless bridle is made of a padded nosepiece which is usually lined with chamois leather or sheepskin. The nosepiece is supported by a small piece of leather attached to the cheek of the bridle. The back is a wide padded piece resting on the horse’s jawbones passing through the rings of the nosepiece to become reins. There should be a supporting strap fastening at the back passing through a loop on the chinpiece to stop the noseband twisting round.

How to fit the scawbrigg

It should be fitted three or four fingers’ width above the nostrils so that the action does not interfere with the horse’s breathing. This bridle can also be used in conjunction with a bit. If a bit is used, it is most important that the bit headpiece is fitted in a way that ensures that the Scawbrigg nosepiece is the closest thing to the face. With the Scawbrigg reins on the nosepiece and a separate set of reins on the bit, you can carefully work the horse between bit pressure and nose pressure in varying degrees.

BR Equi bridle

This bitless bridle works on a sliding pulley system. When the reins are used, the two pulleys are drawn up the cheeks putting pressure simultaneously on the nose and on the poll; the pulleys are prevented from sliding too close to the eyes by clips attached to the nosepiece. It has a potentially very strong action and needs a lot of padding at the back of the nosepiece.

How to fit the BR equi bridle

Great care must be taken to fit the nosepiece high enough to ensure that it does not drop too low and interfere with the horse’s breathing. The chain nosepiece consists of three chains: one at each side of the face and one in the curb groove. There must be a rubber curb guard, or some similar padding, between the chain in the curb groove and the horse’s jaw to prevent the bridle being too severe. As with a curb chain, the chains must all be twisted flat so that they lie comfortably on the horse’s face and in the curb groove.

Side-pull hackamore

This is a Western bridle which comprises a headpiece, cheekpieces and a browband attached to a rope-fronted noseband or a leather-covered rope noseband. The reins attach to Ds sewn on to the noseband at the bottom of each cheekpiece. The idea of this form of bridle is that a young horse can be first long reined and then ridden from the nose.

As the formative training of young horses begins with control on the nose they are already accustomed to this form of control. The horse can then be long reined again from the nose with the addition ofa bit attached to the bridle. The bit is held in the mouth without any use being made of it. When a rider is added to the equation, the young horse is ridden first on the nose alone and then with an extra rein attached to the bit. Gradually, less nose pressure is used and more bit pressure so that the work flows through and is clearly understood by the horse.

How to fit the side-pull hackamore

As with any head device that relies on nose pressure, the fit must not interfere with the horse’s breathing so must be sufficiently high on the nose not to touch the fleshy nostrils but not high enough to rub the projecting cheekbones. The noseband should fit the nose snugly so that there is minimal side to side movement as the reins are used. There are also supporting straps to help keep the noseband at the correct level.