how to put a bridle on a horse

How To Put A Bridle On A Horse: Step-By-Step Guide

Welcome to our guide on putting a bridle on a horse! Whether you’re a new horse enthusiast or looking for some handy tips, we’ve got you covered. We’ll walk you through the steps of the proper way to put a bridle on a horse. This article also includes some tips and tricks for handling a head-shy horse. So, let’s dive in and make bridling your equine friend a breeze!

How Does A Bridle Work?

There are many different types of bridles that are used for riding horses. In a nutshell, a horse bridle is all about using consistent pressure on the horse’s head.

A horse has a natural tendency to move away from pressure or discomfort. A bridle uses this to its advantage. By strategically pulling on the reins and applying pressure, riders can communicate with their horse via the horse’s face.

The headpiece’s main role is to hold the bit in the horse’s mouth. When used correctly, it also applies pressure to the nose, poll, chin and cheeks.

Pulling on the reins applies pressure to the horse’s mouth, causing it to drop its head and work around on the bit.

Step-By-Step Guide To Putting A Bridle On Your Horse

Before you begin bridling your horse, have a halter on them first. You can attach their halter to cross ties or tie the lead rope to a pole with a quick-release knot. Once your horse is standing calmly, you can begin to put the bridle on.

  1. Groom your horse properly before placing any tack on it. This will remove any dirt from their coat, which will also keep your tack clean.
  2. Stand on the left side of your horse with the bridle hanging over your left shoulder.
  3. Unbuckle the halter. Bring the halter’s noseband down and off the horse’s muzzle or nose. Sling the halter’s crown back over the horse’s ears. This will prevent the horse from moving off.
  4. Facing in the same direction as your horse, take the halter in your left hand.
  5. Using your right hand, slip the reins over the horse’s head and onto its neck.
  6. Now swap the bridle to your right hand and grasp just above the bit. Bring the bridle up and over the horse’s nose so that the bit now hangs directly under the muzzle.
  7. Using your left hand, gently push the bit against the horse’s lips. Some horses may instantly open their mouths at this point and you can insert the bit easily. If the horse is resistant, slip your left thumb into the bars of the horse’s mouth (the gap between the front and back teeth).
  8. Wiggle your thumb to get the horse to accept the bit. As the bit goes in, lift the bridle higher so that it can’t fall back out. Be careful not to knock your horse’s teeth – they won’t be impressed if you do!
  9. Shift the bridle into your left hand, raise the headpiece, and hold it close to the horse’s ears.
  10. Using your right hand, gently bend the horse’s right ear forward and slide it underneath the headpiece. Do the same with the left ear. The bridle should now be on the horse and shouldn’t fall off. Now it’s time to tighten the rest of the bridle straps.
  11. Once you’ve finished adjusting the bridle straps, you can remove the halter.
  12. Neaten the mane and forelock and enjoy your ride!

Are you a little too short to put the bridle on? Gently tug on the lead rope – this will make the horse drop its head.

Watch me put a bridle on Star

Adjusting The Bridle So It Fits Correctly

Bridles come in different sizes with specific measurements. For example, a pony bridle will be much smaller than a full-sized bridle. Adjusting the bridle correctly is very important; if it doesn’t fit properly, it can cause discomfort or even injury to both the horse and the rider.


The browband should sit about a half to one inch below the horse’s ears. It also needs to be the correct length across the horse’s head. You should be able to fit a finger or two under the browband.


The height of the noseband should be adjusted until it sits two fingers width below the horse’s cheekbone. When tightening the noseband, you’ll still want to be able to fit one finger underneath.

Throat lash

This strap should be fairly loose so that it doesn’t make the horse uncomfortable. A good guideline is to have a gap of four fingers’ width between the strap and your horse’s jaw.

Cheekpieces & bit

These two parts go hand-in-hand. When the cheekpieces have been adjusted correctly, the bit should show two wrinkle lines at the corner of the horse’s mouth. If there are more or fewer wrinkles than this, you may need to adjust the cheekpieces more.

How to fit a bridle

Make sure you can fit two fingers between the jaw and the bridle

Western Bridle vs English Bridle

There are similarities and differences between English and Western Bridles. They are both bridles at the end of the day, so their purpose is the same, but they differ in their appearance and individual straps. Choosing between these two bridles will be based on the type of riding discipline you want to enter.

How To Put A Bridle On A Head-Shy Horse

Some horses are head-shy, meaning that they don’t like anything or anyone around their head. As you can imagine, this makes putting on a bridle quite a difficult task! But it’s not all doom and gloom! Horse habits can be changed with a bit of time, patience and love.

You’ll need to begin by finding the root of the problem. Try to understand why your horse may be head-shy or if there is pain involved. You can then use this to undo the problem. Stick with working with your horse on the ground. This will make for more effective training and make it easier for you to get your horse to accept the bit and bridle.

Whether your horse always tries to lift its head away from you, or shies away, here are some tips and tricks to overcome this.

  • Tie your horse to nearby crossties with the lead rope. This will stop it from trying to pull away from you and can prevent injuries. This will also keep your horse away from other nearby horses and will help it remain focused on you.
  • Stand on the left side of the horse. Slowly move your hands up to your horse’s ears and don’t pull away until it relaxes. Then repeat this until your horse remains calm with your hands up and around their ears. Horses often have sensitive ears.
  • Allow your horse to become familiar with the bridle. Hold the bridle and bit near the horse’s mouth so it can sniff the bit. Gently slip the reins around the horse’s neck.
  • Move slowly and be patient. Spend time with your horse every day and practise being in their space.
How to fit a bridle

Make sure you can fit 4 fingers under the throat lash


Why won’t my horse accept a bridle?

Some horses are stubborn when it comes to being bridled. This is often caused by an uncomfortable, ill-fitting bridle or by negative associations with the bridle – physical discomfort or pain, for example.

Do you put the saddle or bridle on first?

This is a personal choice – horses can be bridled or saddled first. Some riders prefer to put the saddle on first so they can keep the horse tied to the cross ties which helps when getting the horse to stand still.

Can you ride a horse with no bridle?

Certainly! Riding a horse without a bridle is called free riding. You use a neck rope or neck strap to guide the horse. You’ll need a well-trained and obedient horse to do this. It’ll take time and practice to get it right, but it’s very rewarding. When you and your horse are pros at this, you can simply use a lead rope wrapped around your horse’s neck.

Can horses drink with a bridle on?

As long as a bridle is properly fitted and doesn’t hurt a horse’s mouth or teeth, it can eat and drink easily.

How to put on a bridle

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