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With the bridle (of . Ahd bridle for "Rope", "belt") or bridles are riding and draft animals - mostly horses - led and directed. The bridle consists of a head frame made of straps for the head of the animal as well as the reins . There are bitless bridles and those with a mostly metallic bit ( bridle , curb or pelham ) attached to the head frame and guided through the animal's mouth .



The effect of the bridle is based on the one hand on the natural reaction of the animal to the various pressure points on the bridle, on the other hand certain reactions can also be achieved through training. Depending on the bit and halter used, the pressure points are: tongue, jaw, chin pit, neck, lip and nose. Essentially, the pressure on these points provokes a head movement of the animal, which the body follows, for example a change of direction, or which is otherwise wanted by the rider, for example lowering the head. The reins are used to activate the pressure points and simply to guide the animal. Tying the animal to the reins, as you often see it in Western films, is largely frowned upon in Europe and prohibited in Germany (TGS), as serious injuries can occur if the bit is frightened and the escape reflex is triggered.

The bridle must be properly buckled (two-finger method) so that it does not accidentally pinch and the horse can breathe and chew freely. The seat is different depending on the type of noseband. A noseband that is too tightly buckled also has the consequence that the horse cannot accept the aids properly, as it is then not possible for him to chew on the bit, which is desirable. There should be about two fingers of space between the noseband and the horse's nose. The air trumpet is the part of the nose that inflates during excitement or exertion to provide the lungs with enough air and the body with enough oxygen. It must not be impaired, this is particularly important with the Hanoverian noseband .



The bridle acts on the horse's head in order to influence its speed, the lateral position of the head and the posture of the neck. A wide variety of bridles have been developed over the long history of riding. However, bridles usually consist of the following basic elements:

  • Straps or the like that hold the active elements on the head in the desired position. As a rule, these are straps of a length that can be fastened down the neck (e.g. neck straps, cheek pieces)
  • Noseband or noseband that prevent the horse's mouth from unlocking too far when using a bit.

The reins are strapped into the side bit rings or into the suits of curbs or pelham. For the curb in the English riding style, a smaller so-called snaffle with a second pair of reins is used.

Headband bridles are used in both western and classic riding styles. One-ear bridles are mainly used in western riding .

Typical bridles are presented below.



Bridles in most cases consist of a headpiece, the two cheek pieces on the right and left, the throat strap and the forehead strap (sometimes noseband)

The headpiece lies in the neck behind the horse's ears and forms the "core" of every bridle. If you consider that the weight of the bit is directly on the horse's neck, make sure that it is wide enough not to cut into it.

The browband keeps the headpiece in the right place and prevents it from slipping backwards. A properly fitting browband will also reduce the weight on the neck. The narrower the headpiece, the more urgently the browband becomes necessary.

The cheek pieces are buckled on the left and right of the neck piece and run vertically along the horse's head under the cheekbone. The bit is buckled in at its ends.

The throat strap runs in the area of ​​the gaiters and is mostly worked directly on the headpiece. Its purpose is to prevent the horse from stripping off the bridle itself.

One-ear bridle

One-ear bridle

The one-ear bridle is used in western riding. It consists of a headpiece to which the ear loop is attached and one or two cheek pieces. Due to the hot climate in the countries of origin of western riding, it is useful to get by with as little leather as possible on the horse's head. This is why the bridle straps are usually quite narrow and accessories such as the throat strap are almost completely dispensed with.

In contrast to the headband bridle, where the cheek pieces are usually narrower than the neck strap, the head piece and cheek pieces have the same width here, as no additional strap is required for the throat strap. The less leather covers the sweaty pores of the sensitive skin on the horse's head, the lower the risk of chafing. Often there is only a single cheek piece, as the headpiece and the right cheek strap are made from one piece.

The ear loop does the same job as the browband. It holds the neck strap in place and also ensures that the bit stays in the right position. It is either incorporated directly into the headpiece or is attached separately to the headpiece and can be moved. In any case, the leather should be supple and without edges, as the skin around the ears is sensitive.

Driving bridle

Driving bridle with Liverpool curb

The bridle works without a separate noseband. The noseband is connected to the cheek pieces with small loops or runs through them. Often become the driving driving curbs used.

Western bridles

Western bridle with snaffle bit

Western bridles usually consist of a simple head piece without a locking halter, which is almost identical in structure to the classic head piece. When using snaffle bits, a chinstrap is strapped into the snaffle rings, and when using bits with suits (bits), a chinstrap is fastened. The chinstrap is loosely buckled and prevents the bit from being pulled through the horse's mouth, the chin chain - similar to the English model of the curb - is tightly buckled and part of the leverage, as pressure is exerted on the chin when the reins are taken. Western bridles are available with browbands as well as one-ear or two-ear designs.

Rope halter or rope halter

Rope halter for riding

In many cultures the bridle is knotted from a rope and serves at the same time as a noseband and for guiding and possibly also for tying the horse. See also rope halter . Due to the sharp impact on the sensitive horse's head, the horse may only be tied loosely with a rope halter so that the horse does not injure itself if it tries to tear itself away.


The cavesson is a bitless bridle , which is primarily used when training with young horses and during manual work, so as not to blunt them in the mouth. Young horses sometimes jump to the side unexpectedly and can cause pain in their own mouth when lengthening if they are lengthened with a normal bridle instead of a cavesson. The "heavy cavesson", which is mostly common in Germany, has a mostly three-part nose iron, the sections of which are connected by hinges. Three rings are attached to this nosebar for hooking the lunge and auxiliary reins (reins) or reins or leashes. This nasal iron is often quite wide (2–3 cm) and also thickly padded. This makes the effect rather soft. The exact opposite is the case with the cavesson variant often used in Spain, the Serreta: Here an approx. 1 cm wide, rigid U-shaped one-piece nose iron is strapped onto the bridge of the horse's nose. Often it is completely unpadded or only provided with a thin cover made of leather and there is usually a perforation on the inside of the iron - hence the Spanish name Serreta (= small saw). The rings of the Serreta are often located on bars approx. 2 cm long, which creates an additional leverage effect. This is an unsuitable device for inexperienced lunge guides and riders. Cavesson bridles are becoming more and more widespread and do not require any nasal irons, in which the 3 rings are attached directly to the leather noseband. This kind of cavesson is also named after the French captain Antoine de Pluvinel . A fourth cavesson variant is the caveçon in southern France, in which the nose iron is formed by a link chain (often a motorcycle chain). This chain is used with or without a leather cover.


A noseband is usually part of the bridles used in classic riding. It should give the lower jaw a support and protect it against excessive impact on the jawbone. It also counterbalances the pressure on the drawers and transfers some of the pressure to the nasal bone. It prevents the opening of the mouth with which the horse eludes assistance. However, it also robs the horse of any possibility of avoiding excessive influence of the rider's hand via the bit. A property that is misused all too often.

In the western riding style, riding is usually done without a noseband. The same applies here as auxiliary reins. It is only used when the horse has got used to avoiding the influence of the bit by opening its mouth. Because of this, the noseband is usually referred to here as a blocking halter.

In horse racing, all possible and common bridles are used and some are equipped with various attachments for specific purposes. (See e.g. article harness racing, section bridles and lines .)

Decisive for the correct action of a noseband is also the selection of the same taking into account the head shape of the horse in question.

German noseband

This type of noseband is the oldest among the noseband. It was used in cavalry more than 100 years ago . A leather strap, which serves as a nose and chin strap, is pulled through the loops provided on the cheek piece, similar to a driving bridle.

When properly buckled, it should be about two fingers wide below the cheekbone, the position being determined by the length of the cheek pieces. With this combination, the position of the halter on the horse's head is relatively fixed. It is mainly used on shetty and cold blood snaffles as well as on bridles. Since the height of the noseband is not adjustable, it is rarely seen, although it looks sufficient. The following applies when buckling: At least two fingers should fit between the strap and the horse's head.

Hannoversches noseband

Hanoverian noseband, buckled in English

Not so long ago, the Hannoversche was the most popular among the noseband, until it was replaced by the combined noseband. It was invented by EF Seidler at the Hanover cavalry school in the middle of the 19th century . It consists of a cheek piece and headpiece with a buckle on the side to adjust the length. As a finish, small rings are incorporated on both sides, to which the noseband and the two small chin straps, which are buckled in the chin pit, are attached.

The Hanoverian noseband is buckled so that the noseband comes to rest on the bony part of the nose, ie at least four to five fingers wide above the nostrils. It is buckled over the bit rings in the chin pit, so that there is still room for two fingers underneath. If the noseband is buckled too tight, the effect is reversed. The horse can no longer chew properly and consequently can no longer accept the bit and the rider's aids can no longer get through to the horse. A Hanoverian noseband that is too deeply buckled will impair the air trumpet. The Hanoverian noseband is particularly suitable for horses with a rather long and straight head or the light Ramskopf often found in earlier Hanoverians , but especially for those with a long gap in the mouth . In the case of short and / or wedge-shaped heads and especially those with a short gap between the mouths, however, correct buckling can be difficult, in which case another noseband is preferable.

When training young horses, the reins can be strapped into the bridle rings and also into the small ring on the noseband. This enables a mouth-friendly approach, as part of the effect is distributed to the nose.

The Hanoverian noseband is occasionally buckled in "English" so that, like a German noseband, it lies about two fingers' breadth under the cheekbone.

English noseband

English noseband

The English noseband consists of a cheek-neck part and a well-padded noseband about two centimeters wide, which should be about two to three centimeters below the cheekbone. So it is about twice as wide as the noseband of the Hanover holster. In contrast to this, however, it does not relieve the pressure on the stores by transferring some of the pressure to the nose. It is only intended to prevent the horse from opening its mouth too wide.

In the "state of rest" the English noseband is almost ineffective. It only takes effect when the horse wants to open its mouth, thus preventing the horse from evading the rider's influence.

In Germany, the English noseband is usually only found under the curb, rarely as the sole bridle. The English noseband is well suited for curb bridle, as it does not collide with the suits .

Combined noseband

Combined noseband

The combined noseband is also known as the Irish noseband. It is most commonly used in Germany because it has largely supplanted Hannoversche in the last few decades.

It is basically an English noseband with an additional thin locking or puller strap . This is passed through a small loop in the middle of the noseband and closed in the chin pit. The lanyard on the combined noseband is slightly slanted.

The combined noseband should combine the advantages of the Hanoverian and the English noseband. If it were properly buckled and well adjusted, that would also be the case, but often the nosebands are buckled too deep and as a result the lanyard obstructs the air trumpet. In addition, many riders still believe that the strap should be strapped as tightly as possible. A noseband that is too tightly buckled can chafe the cheekbone.

The combined noseband is often seen today without the locking strap, apparently as a replacement for the English noseband, which is rarely available on the German market as a component of bridle bridles. However, this method is not a fully-fledged substitute for one, as the shape of the noseband is different, rather wider. This bridle is also not permitted for tournament use if the LPO is narrowly interpreted .

Swedish noseband

The combined noseband is also available as a Swedish noseband, on which the noseband is guided back through a loop buckle and fastened. The effect is similar to that of a pulley system, so that the noseband can be closed much more tightly with significantly less effort. This often leads to the noseband being buckled too tightly. Most Swedish nosebands are very well padded.

Mexican noseband

Mexican noseband

The Mexican noseband or cruciate belt halter looks more like the combined noseband with its locking straps crossing on the nose. There are two visually similar variants here.

One (fake) is similar in function to the combined noseband. It consists of two straps that are firmly connected to the bridge of the nose in a rosette or something similar. The upper strap is closed like a normal noseband under the lower jaw, the lower like a locking strap over the bit in the chin pit. This rosette is usually softly padded so that not too much pressure is exerted on the nose.

In the second (real) variant, “locking” and “noseband” are made up of two long straps that cross diagonally in the middle of their length on the bridge of the nose and are connected at each end to the end of the other strap. Each strap therefore forms an alternating half of the “locking” and “noseband”. Both straps are fastened at the crossing point on the bridge of the nose in a mostly thickly padded rosette with loops so that they can slide in both directions against slight resistance. In newer models, the strap ends, which together form the upper half of the "noseband", each end in a metal ring, from which two short straps are connected under the lower jaw to form the lower part of the "noseband". The headpiece of the noseband is also attached to these rings . Due to this construction, the (real) Mexican noseband, especially in the newer version, is flexible everywhere and can be buckled very high without completely blocking the mouth movements in any direction.

The advantage of the Mexican noseband is that when it is correctly - i.e. high - buckled it does not hinder the horse's breathing and does not affect the activity of the mouth or the action of the bit. However, if the straps are too deep, this can change very quickly if the position of the straps is shifted downwards because the connecting piece guides the straps very loosely. This leads to the air trumpet becoming cramped. If the Mexican noseband is buckled rather loosely, a very clear and punctiform effect on the nasal bone occurs only from a certain point, which has a strong clipping effect.

Iron halter

The bow noseband is a combination of a combined and Hanover noseband. It has a centrally positioned noseband, from which a buckle runs around the jaw on a bracket above and one below the noseband. From these brackets, the straps run around the jaw at right angles.

It looks a bit sharper than the two variants mentioned above. If the horse opens its mouth, the two lower straps are pressed down, the force is transferred through the brackets to the upper strap and combined, since both straps correspond to one another via the brackets.

In contrast to most other nosebands, the bit lies freely in the mouth and is not touched by the lanyard or the Hanoverian noseband. This also prevents the lips from being pinched by the straps attached. Since the noseband is higher than in the Hanoverian, a narrowing of the airways is largely prevented. In addition, the horse's lower jaw is well supported by the two chin straps when pulling the reins.

Under certain circumstances, however, it restricts the chewing activity, as the two lateral brackets hinder sideways movement of the jaw. Due to the two side brackets, the bow noseband is also often used on horses that let the tongue hang out to the side.

When buckling up, as always, make sure that the noseband is in the correct position. This is determined by the distance between the two straps and the bit, they must be roughly the same on both sides and so loose that there is room for at least two fingers underneath. It should be said, however, that this noseband does not fail to work even if it is buckled a little looser than usual.

Kineton noseband

The Kineton noseband is rarely seen in this country. It was developed in England and is mainly used there for hunting rides in order to have more control over fierce horses.

The halter consists of two temples that are connected with a leather strap over the bridge of the nose. These brackets are placed around the bit. If the rider acts normally, the bit also acts normally. However, if the horse locks in its mouth and tries to evade the rein aids, the stirrups transfer the pressure to the bridge of the nose.

However, the Kineton has two serious disadvantages: Because the teeth and temples meet directly, it is very easy for the corners of the mouth to get caught between them. Another disadvantage is the loose noseband. The counterpart, the chinstrap, is missing here, so that the noseband rests loosely on top. As a result, it usually slips down further on the nose. If the rider only acts moderately, the airways are immediately narrowed.

American halter / noseband

Like the other types of noseband, the American halter, also known as the mouthshutter, is supposed to prevent the horse from opening its mouth too wide or, as we mainly find it in western equestrian sports, that the horse bites a cow while working on cattle.

The American caveson, like the English noseband, consists of a headpiece and a noseband. This is strapped under the cheek pieces, about two centimeters below the cheekbone. In most cases, the noseband is only about one centimeter wide, consists of either waxed cord or leather and, when the horse opens its mouth, exerts very selective pressure on the bridge of the nose. Due to the usually very solid material, this pressure eases immediately when the horse closes its mouth again.

This type of noseband is often in use. They are forbidden in most tournament classes, but allowed on the warm-up area. Since biting a cattle in tournaments is punishable by high penalty points, some riders tend to use extremely brutal means to prevent their horses from doing so. A very common method is to tie the horse's mouth with a noseband made of wire, a more inconspicuous way to attach a wire underneath the actual noseband.

Most riders know the unpleasant effect of the American noseband and only use it temporarily for correction.

Material and workmanship


Leather is the most popular material for making bridles. The performance test regulations stipulate it in FN- regulated tournament sport for all nosebands. Cow leather is predominantly used. Leather is more maintenance-intensive than most other materials, but it is also much more durable.

It is important that the natural properties of the leather are retained even after the tanning process . It should have good abrasion resistance, absorb moisture and also release it again, be as lightfast as possible, remain soft and elastic and yet offer a certain stability and be visually appealing. The quality of the leather is primarily dependent on the manufacture, the tanning and the raw material. Large pores or rough areas indicate that the leather is of poor quality, which can tear under heavy use. Leather tanned in a vegetable process is far more durable and more comfortable for the horse to wear than chemically tanned leather with good care. It also has a higher elasticity and is more environmentally friendly to manufacture. Disadvantages compared to chemically tanned leather are its higher weight and lower moisture resistance.

In addition to the quality of the leather, the seams play an important role in terms of safety and durability. Sewing is done either with particularly strong, waxed or oiled cotton thread or with synthetic thread. Synthetic fiber has the advantage over cotton that it is relatively rot-proof. Good seams should be sewn uniformly and with evenly thick, waxed thread. The seams should not be too close to the edge and should be countersunk in grooves to protect against abrasion. Uneven or worn seams are a potential hazard.

Synthetic fabrics

Synthetic fabrics as leather substitutes are enjoying increasing popularity, but are not allowed in tournament sports. The plasticized materials in particular are distinguished from leather by their uncomplicated care and a greater choice of colors. The number of materials on the market is steadily increasing and some of the materials have now reached the durability of good leather. Bridles made of special materials are used, especially in horse racing and endurance sports , where the bridles have to withstand the toughest conditions.


Horsehair is rare and expensive, which is why it is primarily used to decorate western bridles. It is also rare to find bridles that are completely “hitched” (i.e. braided with horse hair). With appropriate processing and care, horse hair is definitely a durable material.


  • to keep someone in check = to curb, tame, hold back someone
  • unable to hold oneself in check = out of control, unable to hold back
  • bridle the horse from behind = make something awkward

See also

Web links

Commons : Bridles  - collection of images, videos and audio files


Individual evidence

  1. Duden Online - keyword bridle , section origin