• Clare Long

(Full-Length) Focus on Bridles and Bits


(My new tack room, and Bridles and Bits in general):


"This is my new tack room.

I love it, love it, love it.

I just wanted to point out some of the bridles and some of the bits.

This will be really helpful to you guys. Anna, if you can pan down on the bits, you're going to see everything I have is a snaffle.

Everything I have is a very simple snaffle, a very comfortable snaffle, bits that feel really, really comfortable in the horse's mouth.


I want to talk a little about this, guys.

I know in the hunter tack rooms and the jumper tack rooms, you're going to have much harder bits, and some of them are twists and some of them are pelhams or Kimberwicks or bridles that give you a lot more power and strength.

I know for the jumping horses, sometimes that's necessary because your seat is out of the saddle and so you might need more strength for your bit, because your seat is out of the saddle so you can't really slow of the horse down with your seat so much.


I know a lot of the Western people use harsher bits.

I know a lot of them will use twists.

They'll use double wires.

They'll use all sorts of stronger... I’m trying to pick and choose my adjectives so I'm politically correct, they use stronger bits.

I get that.

In the hunter jumper world, I get that, in the Western world, I get that.

I would really, really, really, really, really like it if the Western trainers only used bits like this. That would make me so happy if we could eliminate any of the twists and any of the tougher bits, that would make me really happy.

Also the shanked bits, I don't have any.

As you can see, I don't have any shanked bits."

(Dressage Bridles and Bits):


"Now, if you're a dressage person, by the time you get to the FEI levels to Prix St Georges, you have to be in a double bridle.


So let's talk about dressage bits.

Dressage bits, as best as you can, try to stay with the German training snaffles.

This is a German training snaffle with a loose ring, meaning the ring slips.

This is standard dressage equipment.

They're wonderful.

When they created this, we called it a walnut. In the middle, it's really fantastic because you can see how it sits on the horse’s pallet.

It sits on the horse's pallet and tongue really, really nicely.

It's very, very comfortable.

This is our most standard, wonderful dressage bit.

So dressage 101, this is probably the bit you're going to want to end up using until you go to a double bridle, which happens as you're approaching Prix St Georges; most people never get there. That's the FEI levels.

That's the international levels.

German training snaffle.

Here's another one, see this one, this is another standard German training snaffle with a loose ring. Here's another one, standard German training snaffle with a loose ring.

Love it.


If you are going to evolve into having a dressage type of horse, you'll probably want to go to a German training snaffle.

While we're talking about the dressage, if you are fortunate enough to be able to work up through all the levels: so pre-training level, training, first, second, third, fourth, look at about a year for each level.

Look at the fact that there's all sorts of things that will prevent you and your horse from going up the next level, the next level.

But if you're able to keep going up the levels, you're going to get into the FEI levels, at the Prix St Georges level, you have to wear a double bridle.

It's tradition, you have to wear a double bridle.

Once you get into the FEI levels, you have to wear a double bridle.


Here's my double bridle. Okay, so it's dusty because I don't have any horses that I'm riding a double bridle in.

With an FEI horse, if you can ride them in a simple snaffle all the way up through and do your piaffe and your passage and your canter pirouettes and your one-tempis and the whole dang thing in a snaffle, rock on, more power to you.

But if you're going to compete, you have to be in a double.


This is our standard double.

This is a dressage double bridle.

Both bits go in the horse's mouth.

Very bizarre I know, but it's true.

This is called a bradoon.

It's a snaffle, but you call it a bradoon because the ring is smaller, because you have all this equipment.

The ring on a bradoon is smaller than the ring on a regular loose ring snaffle.

It doesn't have to be a loose ring, but I think this is the most traditional one.

I like it the most.

This is called a bradoon.

Now, if you have a pony or a smaller horse, you can use the bradoon as their snaffle and it looks really nice because the rings are smaller.

Then this is the curb part.

So they call this a Weymouth, if you want the fancy name for it, or you can call it a curb.


This section's going to take a few minutes so if you're not a dressage person, fast forward, but if you are a dressage person, this is going to take a moment because I want to talk about the curbs or the Weymouths.

So you use a regular cavesson with the double bridle, just a regular noseband.

This is called the Weymouth, and it has a chain.

This is the “severe” part of the double bridle.

I'm not going to put the double on anybody, because none of my horses right now are wearing doubles. But it's a standard dressage bridle and the double bit meaning the bradoon with the Weymouth and double reins, so you're riding with four reins, two reins on each side. I'm not going to show you how to carry them, it's not important right now. It's not important for my training program, so I'm not going to talk about that. If we end up with an upper-level horse that's in a double, I'll talk about holding four reins." (Dover's Dressage Bridle):

"This is a dressage bridle. This is a very traditional dressage bridle. This dressage bridle is also a cob, it also came from Dover. We love it. It's the equivalent of the hunter bridle. It's made by Dover. I think they're called a Suffolk. It's going to be somewhere around $80. This is the hunter one we had on pony, comes with the braided reins, hunter reins, fabulous bridle. We love it. This is the equivalent in a dressage bridle. Dressage bridles are usually black, dressage tack is usually black, hunter tack is usually brown, jumper tack is usually brown, working Western tack is usually brown. The dressage tack is usually black padded, so we have the padded browband, the padded cavesson. This is actually a flash noseband, so you see this little deal here? This is called a flash noseband and it has a strap that goes around below as well and helps to hold the horse's mouth closed. I rarely will use what I call the bottom part of the flash. I usually just pull it off. If you know you're never going to use it again, you can always cut off. If you know you're never going to use the bottom part of the flash, you can cut that little guy off, you can cut this little ring off. It's totally fine. Or you can leave it on there and that's totally fine as well. If you ever need help keeping the horse's mouth closed, you can always use the bottom part of the flash. I try not to. We talked about this with Dom in the Dom video that in the olden days, not in the olden days, but a bit ago, there was a fad where everybody was trying to crank the horse's mouths closed and that's out of favor now, I think, I hope. So we're really not using the bottom part of the flash as much but the bottom part of the flash is standard dressage equipment. So if you see a horse going around in a German training snaffle and the bottom part of the flash is on there, it's totally okay. It's very traditionally dressage. If you go to a dressage show you're going to see that. Absolutely positively." (Crank Nosebands):

"Very quickly, let's talk about this particular noseband, because remember I told you it's a crank. Dom came to me with this crank noseband, they are all the rage right now or at least they were for the dressage bridles. You can find a dressage bridle that just has a regular cavesson or a flash noseband, and then you can take the bottom part of the flash off. I don't like the cranks because look at all this extra leather, it's just a pain in the [watoozy 58:56]. In addition, the point of the crank is so that you can crank the noseband closed to keep the horse's mouth closed, but we don't really do that anymore, or at least we prefer not to. There's just a lot of extra moving parts. This has to go through a little ring, you don't have to look at it, then it has to come around here, then it has to buckle through this. I would've been long done with my other noseband by now. Then we tuck this in, but you have all this extra stuff going on and most likely what's going to happen is that's going to shift and it's going to end up like that, and it's kind of ugly. So no reason to use a crank. You don't need a crank, get a regular noseband. Because the bridle came with the crank, I left it on." (Reins):

"This dressage bridle comes with my favorite dressage reins. These are canvas and I love them. I love that there are stoppers, so you know if your reins are even, because you know you on both reins, you're on the second keeper, you're on the second stopper. I much prefer these to the braided reins. I much, much prefer the dressage reins. Now, you can get these, these ones are canvas, these are canvas, leather, you can get them in leather. These are also dressage reins. You see how these are leather with the little keepers, these are canvas with the little keepers? You can also get ones that are rubber mostly for cross country, for when you know your horse is going to get wet. They have rubber ones. I don't use the rubber ones because I am not riding cross country. But you can see for Dom's bridle, he has the leather ones. It's up to you. Do you prefer to carry the canvas, or do you prefer to carry the leather? I like the canvas because it's stickier. You can really lock into it better."


(Shanked bits, how to choose the least severe):


"Anytime you have a shank, it's much more influential and much more “severe.”

That's why none of my bits are shanked bits.

If you have to ride in a double, I choose the Weymouth, the curb that is the least severe.

Let me tell you how you know.

This is called the port.

You want as low a port as possible, the higher the port, the more severe.

There you go.

How easy is that?

So in the Western bridles or in the double bridles, the port sometimes go way up to here.

They're just monsters.

The higher the port, the more severe.

Stick with the low port, if you can.

The longer the shank, the more severe.

Stick with the shortest shank you can find.

Those are hard and fast rules across the board."

(Western Shanked Bits, how to choose the least severe):


"Western people please pay attention.

A lot of the Western riders do ride in shanked bits.

A lot of the Western disciplines require a shanked bit to compete, you got to have it.

A lot of Western riders feel like you can't really ride a horse one handed properly unless you're riding them in what I call a full bridle or a shanked bit.

I try not to.


The shorter the shank, the less severe, the longer the shank, the more severe.

There you go, you have it.

Across the board, the lower the port, the less severe, the shorter the shank, the less severe, and it does have a curb chain, and it's just part of riding with a curb bit."



(Happy Mouth Bits):


"When I'm training the youngsters, I like to put them in a Happy Mouth.

Happy Mouth is a whole line of bits that came out, I don't know, I'm old, 20 years ago, and we love them.

All of us love them so much that Happy Mouth as a company made pretty much every damn bit you can imagine in a Happy Mouth.

They look like this.

We definitely support Happy Mouths.

We love them and you can get pretty much any bit in a Happy Mouth.

When I'm starting a youngster and I really want them to like the bit, the Happy Mouth tastes good, they feel good."

(Full Cheek Happy Mouth Bits):


"I do start the horses in Happy Mouths and I love the full cheeks.


I love the full cheeks when you're teaching a horse how to steer, they're really fantastic because they influence the whole side of the horse's mouth rather than just the mouth.

When you're teaching a horse how to steer, sometimes they don't quite get it and if you use a bit like this, the ring ends up getting pulled through and into their mouth.

With a full cheek it won't happen.

When you start off a youngster, my very favorite bit is this one.

What they've done is they incorporated the full cheek with the Happy Mouth, with the link in the middle.

It doesn't get better than this.

When you're starting a youngster, in my opinion, not only a youngster, when you're starting a horse in my opinion, this is the best starting bit.

They love them.

Then if you want, if you need a little more, you can go to this full cheek.

So this full cheek, as you can see doesn't have the link in the middle.

This is what I call an old-fashioned full cheek, it just has the single.

You can see the difference with how it hangs in their palette. See how much softer this one is? This link allows it to sit on their tongue whereas this one pokes against the tongue. See?

This gives you a lot more control.

A lot more leverage because when you pull back, it points down on their tongue, whereas this one is the softest and the most lovely.


You can go from this to this if you want.

A lot of horses are really happy working in this. This is what I had on the pony Twirl, except for it was like this, regular full cheek without the happy mouth part.

Here it is, here's Twirls hunter bridle, and you see he's just wearing a normal, old fashion, I call them old-fashioned, full cheek with a single joint in the middle.

I love them.

They're wonderful.

They don't have to be fat with the diameter.

The width is perfectly fine.

So we've got your first starting off baby horse bit, then we can evolve if you want to this bit, perfectly fine.

Then if you want, you can evolve to this bit, perfectly fine.

Then if you're going to stay in the hunter world or the jumper world, you can stay with this forever.

Or you can go[typey 27:36] of the hunters, which is a D ring.

I don't have any because I don't like the look of them.

I don't have any Ds.

I don't like the look of them. I much prefer a full cheek look."

(Bit sizes in general):


"This is for my big guy, my big draft guy.

This is a simple full cheek, but it's a six-inch. This is going to be helpful to you guys.

The standard horse, standard quarter horse, standard horse is going to wear a five-inch.

That measures from here to here, five inches.

When you order a bit, they're going to ask what size, five-inch is standard.

Five and a quarter, five and a half when you start getting into the bigger mouth horses, six inches for my big half draft horse.

Rarely will you need anything bigger than six-inch, after 6 inches you get into the draft horse sizes.

We don't need to.

Six-inch, if you've got a big-mouthed horse or a half draft, a six-inch is going to suit you."

(Western Bridles):


"You can get a lot of different types of Western bridles.

I like this one.

This is my go-to for a Western bridle.

I have the baby horse full cheek on it.

I start a lot of horses in this bridle.

You can pick and choose what you want it to look like.

I like the Western bridles that have the little doodads on the forehead.

I think it looks pretty.

I really like it.

Usually, they have a little tip of silver. I love that.

I love the conchos.

You can go with whatever concho you want.

I bought these conchos separately and put them on this bridle.

Brown, you can go with as much bling as you like. I don't like the look of the split ear. I like this type of bridle for horse. If you like the look of the split ear, fine. No noseband. See what I mean? Very rarely do you have a Western bridle with a noseband. I don't know that any of them come with nosebands. I think that's considered a training device for the Western people."

(Different fasteners: Buckles vs Screws):


"I’d really recommend you go with buckles.

These days, people are going with Chicago screws.

Okay, I get it but sometimes they unscrew and you end up with your bridle falling apart.

Also, when you put your bridle together, you have to have a screwdriver and anytime you adjust it, you have to have a screwdriver.

You can't just adjust it.

Kind of a pain in the [watoozy 40:21].

Then the newest thing that they've come up with are just thin little leather pieces, and you just tie a knot.

That makes me really nervous.

What if the knot comes out?

Or what if I want to take the knot out?

Is it then stuck closed because it's leather?


I like buckles.

Buckles are great.

Buckles are fabulous.

They're easy.

They're great-looking.

It's really easy to adjust the bridle.

It's really easy to change the bit over. I love buckles.

You have to search a little bit for a Western bridle that has buckles, but they're out there, I promise.

I promise they're out there."

(Pony bridle and bit):


"I'm going to switch the pony over from this, which is a cob, and you can see I'm already at the very tippy top, and I don't have any more holes to go up and it's still almost too big.

Here's a standard bridle for a pony.

I'm going to switch his over into this pony bridle, I'll switch the full cheek over, this has the baby horse bit in it.

Oh, it's bradoon, baby horse bradoon.

You see how little the ring is compared to the standard ring.

See how tiny?

See how teeny tiny the ring is?

This looks really great on a pony.

You don't get overwhelmed by the ring size.

Maybe I'll leave this on the pony. I'm not sure, I didn't really realize that this was my pony bit. Pony bit on a pony bridle that makes sense.


Now let's just run through this bridle quickly.

Hunter, you see it's a hunter bridle, right?

It's pretty easy to see.

It's brown.

It’s got the braided reins, correct?

Not quite as pretty as the Dover bridle.

So there was stitching on the noseband and the browband, but you can't see it because the bridle’s really old."

("Pony Club" Trick to undoing "do-dad" english bridle hooks):


"The last thing about this cute bridle: down here you have these old-fashioned little [hookities 43:09] and we always used to use these on our horses.

We didn't have buckles.

These little doodads, you sometimes see them often on the hunter bridles.

Here's a pony club tip.

A lot of people struggle with opening these.

I’m just going to show you up close.

The pony club tip to getting these out is the push down from here.

If you push from here, it pops it out of the little slot.

You don't have to fight with it, and it comes right off, these look like that.

Then you can just undo it.

If you yank and yank at it, it can be really tricky.

So there is a good pony club tip for you guys.

Often the hunter bridles have these, although I much prefer the buckles.

Up here, they are buckles, don't ask me why, and down here we have these.

On the reins, we have the doodads.

Now here's a really good tip. Put this through the keeper already, then push it down, find the end, pop it in.

A lot of times, you'll end up fighting with these, and if you use that pony club, I call it a pony club tip, because I learned it in pony club a million years ago, it's really helpful.

Push down, it'll pop out.


With the reins, you can see these reins didn't initially go with this bridle, right?

But same game.

If I pull and pull, it can be really frustrating.

But even with my obnoxious ridiculous long nails, you can still see my tip.

If I push here, look, pops right out.

You're not fighting with it.

Done deal.

Then to put it back in, and like I said, these reins do not go with this bridle, see?

The leather doesn't match.

So you can see that that trick works across the board.

And then push it through here, already put it in that.

Then slip it down, pop it in.

It'll help you guys so much and it's a great tip to not fighting with these little doodads."

(A super easy Western Bridle):


"This is really awesome.

You can buy these from the Western tack stores and they're fabulous.

Look, it just snapped right on.

They're so awesome.

I consider this a Western piece of tack.

If you're going to be using the same bridle on a bunch of different horses or you're trying out bits for the same horse or whatever it is, it's so great.

They've got a snap.

You just snap the bit on and it's done.

Then the throat latch is really marvelous as well, it just attaches with a little snap.

In my opinion, these are worth their weight and gold because they're so easy.

Clearly, I don't have the reins on it, but they're just so darn easy.

I love these.

I just wanted to show you guys this last piece of equipment that just makes life so much easier. And I would consider this a Western bridle."