Measure and Adjust an English Bridle to Properly Fit Your Horse

A comfortable fitting bridle means a comfortable horse, and if you’ve ordered bridles before, then you know that sometimes they all seem to fit differently. Knowing how to properly measure for an English bridle will help you pick the perfect bridle for your horse and not hassle with punching holes or having to exchange your English bridle for another size.

An English bridle typically comes in a few different sizes: pony, cob, full-size, and oversize for larger warmbloods or draft horses. Unfortunately, there’s no standard sizing, so understanding what size your horse is and knowing their head measurements are helpful for the next time you need to go bridle shopping. There are many different types of English bridles to choose from, but in this blog, we’re going to explain how to fit and measure a traditional English bridle.

How Should Your English Bridle Fit Your Horse?

When fitting your English bridle, there are 5 pieces that you need to be aware of:

  1. Crownpiece
  2. Browband
  3. Cheekpiece
  4. Noseband
  5. Throat Latch

Having an English bridle that fits properly is key, and before you start ordering your horse’s new English bridle, you’ll need to understand how it’s supposed to fit.

In the rest of this blog, we will go through four important steps on adjusting your English bridle so it fits your horse comfortably and correctly.

  1. Adjust Cheek Pieces for Correct Bit Height

  2. Adjusting Cheek Pieces for Correct Bit Height

    Adjusting the cheekpieces of your English bridle is important since it is a direct influence on the correct bit height. But first, to properly adjust the cheekpiece and bit, you’ll want to put the bridle on the horse with the reins looped around the horse’s neck.

    If the bit leaves two soft wrinkles at the corner of the horse’s mouth, you’ll know your cheekpiece is the correct length. If there are more than two wrinkles, you’ll want to loosen the cheekpiece. If there are fewer wrinkles, you’ll want to tighten the cheekpieces.

    If your cheekpiece is too tight, this can cause the bit to rest too high in the horse’s mouth. This can cause pinching in the corners of the mouth as well as applying too much pressure at your horse’s poll. If the cheek piece is too loose, it can cause the bit to sit too low in your horse’s mouth and potentially hit against your horse’s teeth.

    Note: Different bits may fit differently. For example, a pelham or kimberwicke bit will only need one soft wrinkle versus two.

  3. Align the Browband Correctly on Your Horse's Forehead

  4. Align Browband

    Your horse’s browband lies flat on your horse’s forehead about ½ to 1 inch below their ears. You want to make sure that your browband isn’t too short, pulling the crownpiece into the horse’s ears. If there’s a gap between the browband and your horse's forehead then the browband is too long.

    When measuring for a new browband, you will measure from the back edge of the horse’s ear, around his forehead, to the back edge of his other ear where the browband connects to the crownpiece.

  5. Adjust the Noseband / Cavesson Correctly Under Your Horse's Cheekbone

  6. Adjust the Noseband

    The fit of a noseband depends on the type of noseband used. A standard noseband should sit ½ to 1 inch below the edge of the horse’s cheekbone, this is about a finger length. If the noseband has adjustable buckles from both sides of the bridle, you’ll want to make sure they’re buckled on the same hole on each side for a proper fit. If the noseband is tight enough, you’ll be able to place one finger inside the noseband underneath the jaw, so it is snug enough to not move during riding.

    When measuring for a new noseband, you’ll want to measure around the horse’s muzzle about 1 inch below their cheekbone.

    Flash Noseband: With a flash noseband, the cavesson part should sit directly under the cheekbones. The flash attachment should lie on top of the nasal bone, stretch down over the horse’s mouth, and rest comfortably in front of the bit.

    Figure 8 Noseband: It’s important to adjust a Figure 8 Noseband correctly to avoid destructing your horse’s breathing. The padded disk should rest on top of the horse’s nasal bone, the straps cross over the bone, and the lower straps rest comfortably over the horse’s mouth in front of the bit. The upper strap of the figure 8 noseband, rests either on top of the cheekbones or slightly under depending on the type of figure 8 used.

  7. Adjusting the Throatlatch the Correct Tightness

  8. Adjust the Throatlatch

    When buckling the throat latch, you want to be able to fit 4 fingers between it and the underside of the jaw. The throatlatch must be tight enough because it’s designed to keep the bridle in place during your ride. However, if it’s buckled too tightly it can make it difficult for your horse to breathe.

    When measuring for a throatlatch you will measure from the back of your horse’s ear, under the throat, to the back of the other ear.

Buying a Properly Fitting English Bridle

Now that you know how your English bridle should fit, you can go out and start shopping. It’s important to remember that there’s not a standard size for bridles, so knowing your horse’s measurements is helpful when shopping. Before buying a bridle, read the manufacturers sizing charts to help you better decide which bridle is right for your horse.

At Schneiders, we carry a variety of English bridles for your horse. Shop our wide selection of Dressage, Hunter, Figure 8, Flash, Saddleseat, Browbands, Cavesons, and additional English Bridle Parts and Accessories.

By regularly cleaning and oiling your bridle, you will keep the leather protected, supple, and extend its lifetime. You can read more on how to clean and oil your tack here.