Put the bridle on after the saddle. Make sure that you will be able to put it on without having to untangle it or untwist the straps. Always approach the horse from the front, so that they can see what you have in your hands. It is important to always have a form of restraint on the horse’s head or neck while you are putting on the bridle so that the horse will be unable to walk away. Don’t let the horse get away from you with the bridle hanging on halfway, because it can easily catch a leg in the reins.
1) Untie the horse, undo the halter, slip it off the horse’s muzzle, and then fasten it around the neck. Stand on the left of the horse, take the reins in your right hand, and put them over its head. As an alternative, you could put the reins over the head, and then remove the halter.
2) Put your right arm under the horse’s jaw and hold the cheekpieces of the bridle together in front of its face. Rest the bit on your left hand, just under the muzzle. The noseband will then be in place to completely encircle the horse’s jaws.
3) Move the bridle slowly up the horse’s face. When the bit touches the horse’s mouth, gently insert your thumb between the lips at the corner, so that it presses slightly on the gum in the gap between the horse’s teeth; this should encourage the horse to open its mouth.
4) Bring the crownpiece up over the horse’s ears, taking care not to let the bit drop out of the horse’s mouth. Carefully fit both ears between the browband and the crownpiece, and check that all the horse’s forelock is lying freely over the browband.
5) Check that all parts of the bridle are lying straight and flat before fastening the buckles. Fasten the throatlatch first, so that if the horse pulls away from you it will not pull the bridle off.
6) Finally, fasten the noseband – A cavesson noseband should be fastened loosely and lie next to the horse’s face, underneath the cheekpieces. A drop noseband should be tighter and lie below the bit. Put the end of each strap through its keeper and runner.
When you remove the bridle, first fasten a halter loosely around the horse’s neck. Undo the noseband, then the throatlatch on the bridle. Bring the reins up the horse’s neck, and take hold of them and the crownpiece in one hand. Pull them all gently over the ears, and lower the bridle slowly down the front of the horse’s face. The horse will ease the bit out of its mouth, and the noseband will fall away on its own. Do not pull the bridle off too quickly because it may bang the bit against the horse’s teeth.
If you have to leave a horse tacked up, twist the reins loosely and fasten the throatlatch through them. Secure the stirrups so that they cannot swing around. Put a halter on over the bridle, and tie up the horse. Pass the stirrup leathers through the stirrups, and thread the loose ends through the loops.