Early Days

Bridles

Lets get this post started with a bridle blog roll:

SprinklerBandit Bridle Series:
Part 1 – Aesthetics
Part 2 – Function
Part 3 – Extra Features
Part 4 – Brands & Quality

Not-So-Speedy Dressage:
Micklem Bridle
More Micklem Bridle
Micklem in Action

Forging Fiction: To Flash Or Not To Flash?

Please feel free to link some more in the comments! These are just the ones in my recent memory.

All of the above bridle posts plus the comments I received at the Dr. Schacht clinic have really made me look at my bridles and question if they are the right choice for Hemie.

I’ve had both my bridles since before Hemie came into the picture. Since they fit him fine, I’ve been using them from day 1 and never thought much about it.

Jump Bridle
Dressage Bridle
With blingy brow band.

Did you notice? They are the same bridle, except for the color. 
They are both stamped Americana, so with some googling it looks like they are manufactured by Harmohn Kraft Inc and sold by several major retailers. These bridles were graciously given to me by my trainer when I first started riding with her on Spirit several years ago. (As to bits, I ride in a Albacon french link eggbutt snaffle for jumping and a Korsteel french link D-ring for dressage. I bought these bits for Spirit, but they fit Hemie perfectly, so I kept using them.)

Normally I follow the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” approach. But I realized there are some points to consider:

#1. Open mouth.

At Dr. Schacht clinic in February

At the show on Sunday

Also from show on Sunday

Hemie will sometimes open his mouth during rides, though just for a few moments at a time, not for any significant duration. From what I understand, an open mouth is undesirable for 2 reasons. First, it can dry out their mouth, which hampers connection with the bit. Secondly, it “looks bad” from an aesthetics perspective.

#2. Cheek piece bubble.

I’ve noticed it at some point during some of my XC videos: an air gap between Hemie’s face and the cheek piece. Presumably the bit is rising in his mouth and/or he’s wiggling his jaw. I haven’t heard of this issue before, but it sure doesn’t look like its supposed to happen, and it’s got me thinking a lot about bit stability.

At least there isn’t a gap under my leg!

#3. Its good to be open minded to potentially better options.

We may not have a major bridling problem, but I’d be silly not to be open to better options out there. Ever since the clinic I’ve been riding with a tighter cavesson, and it doesn’t seem to bother Hemie during rides. But a tight cavesson just bothers me for some reason, especially the more I’ve researched on the Micklem bridle.

After listening to an interview of William Micklem on the Horses In The Morning podcast as well as reading through his website and a recent Eventing Nation post about it, I decided to go ahead and purchase it.

It comes in about 2 weeks, but due to the kindness of Karen (of Not-So-Speedy Dressage fame), we have some photos of how Hemie will look in it:

So what do you think? All comments welcome!

16 comments on “Bridles

  1. Hemie looks adorable in it, always worth trying new things, as long as you go towards better not worse.

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  2. I really enjoy my Micklem. I hope it works out well for you! And he looks great in it :)

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  3. I think the micklem will definitely address all your concerns. The gapping in your bridle cheeks is indicative of the bit hanging too low in the mouth and aisde from aesthetic concerns, opening the mouth is resisting the contact. There's definitely a training element to fixing it, but I'm in the camp of “let's address the things causing the mouth to open (forward, straightness, softness) and not freak out about the mouth by itself.” …which is to say, use a flash or a figure eight or a micklem so the horse can learn the proper response.

    Hope you like it!

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  4. Cool! I am assuming your trainer is on board. Did seeing it in person give her some information, or did you just decide without trainer input? Either way, I think you'll like it, and Hemie, too, of course. :0)

    (Thanks for the shout outs. :0)

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  5. He looks so cute in the Micklem :D That is all. I care about cute, haha!

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  6. I know my horse really appreciates the stability of a flash. We strictly ride in a figure eight, but I've also ridden him without. I think he find the concept of contact easier when the bit is stabilized. That said, I'm not a fan of cranking his mouth shut either, He's always got happy, foamy lips when we're done, so as long as he's happy, I'm happy. Hemie will look great in the micklem!

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  7. My go to is either the Micklem or a drop…whatever works best for the horse.

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  8. Thanks! I agree it doesn't hurt to try (though it does hurt a little to *buy*…)

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  9. Good good. And thanks.

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  10. Whew. Thank you so much. I'm feeling more relieved about the decision in terms of it being the right solution.

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  11. I was telling her about the bridle in the trailer ride over to the show, knowing you would be there so she could see it in person, and she was very positive about it. I like to get my trainer's blessing whenever possible, though I always go with my gut no matter what. Indeed, she was very receptive to it especially once seeing it on Sydney.

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  12. Thanks – yeah stabilizing the bit sounds like the right thing to do.

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  13. Glad the Micklem is getting good feedback. Thanks

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