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One of the most basic pieces of equipment a horse person needs, the bridle comes in all shapes and sizes. From minimalist Native American rope headstalls to the extensive (& expensive) contraptions used to train dressage & carriage horses.
Horse Bridle Terminology
Because they are a functional piece, there are a few parts that are universal to almost any bridle you are likely to run across. Which makes it easier to learn an understanding of the basic elements.
Also called headstall and crownpiece is the strap that goes over the horse’s head just behind their ears at the poll. It is the main (and usually the thickest) strap of the bridle.
Generally there are two cheekpieces, one to either side of the crownpiece, which run down the side of the horse’s face along the cheekbone and attach to the bit.
Also called throatlatch Usually a small strip of the crownpiece itself which runs from under the horses right ear, under their throatlatch and attaches under the left ear. The purpose of this strap is to keep the bridle on the horses head.
The browband is a thicker piece of leather which runs across the horses brow. The crownpiece also runs through the browband on both sides just under the horses ears. In some competitions decorative browbands are fashionable.
The noseband circles the horses nose, holds the bridle in place, and is sometimes used to attach other equipment.
English bridles usually use a Cavesson which is a noseband that is attached to its own headstall and to the rest of the bridle via the browband.
The reins are the riders contact with the horse and are found on all bridles. They are attached at the bit, underneath where the bridle is attaches.
The metal part of a bridle, the bit rests on interdental spaces between a horse’s mouth called the bars and is attached to both the headstall (via cheekpieces) and the reins.
Be sure to check back for saddle terminology too.