Friday, 22 May 2015

All About - Double Bridles

In December I wrote a blog about the Snaffle Bridle which is the most common type of bridle used in the U.K.  Today's blog will be about the Double Bridle, these are seen in some Showing competitions and Dressage.  In addition, some people like to use these on a regular basis.

 A Double Bridle is made up of 2 bits (and 2 reins).  It has a Bradoon (or Bridoon) bit and a Curb bit and each carry a pair of reins.  The Bradoon is much like a snaffle but has smaller rings which can be loose ring or eggbutt.  This bit encourages the horse to raise his head to the correct height.

The most well known Curb bit is the Weymouth, these have long or short cheeks and different types of mouthpiece.  The Weymouth encourages the head to come down and round.  It gives a lighter and more refined aid and encourages the horse to maintain head carriage and induce flexion (when used in conjunction with the Bradoon).  The Weymouth also has a curb chain which gives an extra area of control and induces flexion by putting pressure on the curb groove.

The Weymouth can also help with balance and control.  The mouthpiece acts on the tongue and the bars.  When the Weymouth rein is used the curb chain is tightened and also the upper part of the bit cheek moves forward putting pressure on the poll.  The longer the cheeks the greater the leverage and the sharper the action.  As with other bits these come in a variety of styles and with different mouthpieces eg: straight bar and jointed. 

To accommodate the second bit there is a 'sliphead' or 'overhead slip' (similar to the headpiece).  This is made up of two pieces of leather which buckle together to allow for fitting.  At the other end of each piece there are bit attachments.  This piece of leather is buckled on the off side to reduce the number of buckles on the near side!  

The Bradoon should lie over the top of the Weymouth so that it can sit correctly in the horse's mouth.  When fitting the Bradoon it should be a little higher than a Snaffle and the Weymouth should lie directly below. 

When fitting the curb chain it is important that it lies flat.  It will be attached to a hook at one end, twist it in a clockwise direction until the links all lie flat, turn it another half turn to hook it onto the other end!  The curb chain should be adjusted so that it is tight when the lower part of the Weymouth bit cheek is at 45 degrees to the mouth.  The lip or chin strap is then passed through the 'fly link' which is the extra link in the middle of the curb chain, and fastened loosely.  This strap is intended to help keep the chain in position.

Generally the reins used for double bridles are slightly different thicknesses so that it is easy to identify each when riding.  The thicker rein should be attached to the Bradoon.  Double Bridles should be fitted in the same way as a Snaffle Bridle paying attention to the bit size.

Riding with 2 reins takes practice and some horses will not accept 2 bits in their mouths.  Also, some horses have mouths that are not big enough for 2 bits!  Always remember that horses are individuals and what suits one horse may not suit another!

Next weeks' blog will be about other types of bits to add to my blog about Snaffle bits from December. 

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