English bridles (or snaffle bridles) come in a variety of styles and designs, including the popular hackamore bridle for training or show and the popular Micklem bridle.
For young horses having a bit in the mouth is unfamiliar and annoying at first. Therefore bitless snaffles are very good for young horses. Western riders use a sidepull or lindy for this purpose. Both are bitless snaffles that look like halters and rest on the bridge of the horse's nose. Even those who want to ride in the classical English style can train a young horse with a bitless snaffle. For example, there is the Bitless Bridle, which was invented by an American veterinarian.
This is not only to protect the horse's sensitive mouth, but also to prevent the animal from choking. Choking fits can be caused by increased flow of saliva when the horse is mouthing with a bit. If you want to use a bit, a bridle with a drop noseband or English noseband combined with a water snaffle or an eggbutt snaffle is a good choice. However, neither should be too thin. The thinner the bit, the harsher the effect in the horse's mouth.
A Micklem bridle is a snaffle bridle that was designed by William Micklem for the Horseware company. His aim was to take better account of the horse's anatomy. Due to its special cut, this snaffle avoids pressure on the particularly sensitive areas of the head. These are the neck, the nose bone, the upper and lower jaw, the tongue and the corner of the mouth as well as the facial nerves.
The Micklem bridle is available in two versions: "Multi Bridle" and "Competition". The "Multi Bridle" can be used with or without a bit. With the help of accessories, the "Multi Bridle" can also be used as a cavesson bridle. In addition, a supplementary mouth and tongue guard can be fitted. However, this is not possible with the "Competition" version, as it is not permitted for competitions. Used as a normal snaffle bridle, both versions are approved for all types of shows.
Many horses find the Micklem bridle more comfortable than the traditional versions. They are calmer and respond better to the rider's aids.
The choice is huge - there are snaffle bits made of a wide variety of materials and in different shapes. Which snaffle is best for you depends on your horse's anatomy, temperament and habits. An anatomically shaped, double-jointed water snaffle usually encourages horses to chew more, so if your horse doesn't chew enough, this snaffle may be optimal. On the other hand, if your horse already chews a lot, it might just play with this snaffle and not accept the aids. In that case, a single bridle would probably make more sense. However, this type of snaffle is not suitable if your horse likes to lean on the bit.
Most horses accept a single bit, anatomically shaped eggbutt snaffle very well. It lies very comfortably in the horse's mouth. But even this snaffle is not well suited for horses that tend to push against the hand. In this case, a double jointed version would be better.
Snaffles made of metal have a long tradition. Today, copper, iron or stainless steel are often used to make snaffle bits. Copper and iron have the advantage that they react with the horse's saliva. This gives the bit a pleasant taste for the animal. However, copper in its pure form is too soft. It is therefore usually used together with other metals. This addition of copper also causes the bit to warm up faster to the horse's body temperature in winter. Stainless steel snaffles are very smooth, durable and easy to clean.
Plastic snaffles consist of a wire core and a coating of Nathe. This synthetic material is very soft. On the one hand this is pleasant for the horse, but on the other hand it shortens the life of the bridle. This is why you have to check plastic snaffles regularly. If the Nathe gets bitten through, the wire core is exposed, which can lead to serious injuries in the horse's mouth.
Fitting the English snaffle or, rather, the English noseband, should be easy for every rider. However, sometimes the noseband gets fastened too tightly, which can cause pain to your horse. If you adjust your snaffle bridle correctly, it should be tightly fastened two finger widths below the cheekbone and loose enough so that you can easily reach underneath with two fingers next to each other.
The throatlatch should be loose enough so that you can place your clenched fist between the horse's head and the throatlatch. The throat lash should fit snugly and smoothly. If it is too loose it can slip down or lose its effect. If it is too tight then it will be very uncomfortable for the horse and will cause a problem. If you fit your English snaffle correctly, it will support you and your horse in communicating via your aids.
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