Once my horse turned 20 I decided my current bridle had done its time, and that Elan deserved a birthday present other than homemade cookies (always a hit). I immediately started searching through new bridle options. I wanted something padded, with fancy stitching and an attractively styled browband. I then came across the anatomical/ergonomic (can go by either name) bridle in an assortment of styles. The purpose of the anatomical/ergonomic is that they are padded in areas such as the crown and noseband to relieve the pressure across the poll and nose. The goal is that if the pressure is relieved off the poll, the horse will be more inclined to collect and accept the bit. These brides in some instances have different styles of cheekpieces and nosebands to avoid pressure against sensitive facial nerves. A common trend I noticed with most anatomical bridles is that they have a flash, this may not be an issue for most people but for myself it is unnecessary.
If contemplating an anatomical/ergonomic bridle consider the design you find the most attractive and best suited for your horse. While your budget may be taken into consideration, it is helpful to keep a style in mind and see if there are other options in existing brands. Here are examples of ergonomic bridles in varying styles to consider looking into.
When I started looking into anatomical bridles I saw the High Jump by PS of Sweden and was very intrigued by its unique and comfortable design. Unfortunately, I did not have the budget to purchase the High Jump so I looked for other options. I then found the Collegiate ComFiTec Training Bridle. Collegiate and Weatherbeeta came together and designed this bridle in a very similar design to the High Jump, but at a much more affordable price. The bridle comes in several styles, myself being torn between the Training Bridle and the Fancy Stitch. The Training Bridle has a lovely curved browband, while the Fancy Stitchalternatively has detailing along the noseband and browband. I contacted Collegiate asking to see if it was possible to buy browbands or nosebands as separate pieces, and oddly enough it was not. I picked the Training bridle as I was really intrigued by the two-toned leather, a detail I thought would match my saddle well.
When I received my bridle I unfortunately was disappointed as it not the colour I anticipated. Instead of being the two tones of softer brown complemented by a darker brown trim, its entirety was a dark brown, the two colours almost indistinguishable. I don’t want to say all the Collegiate ComFiTec bridles are not in the colour as advertised, as mine could have resulted from its dye lot.
The bridle leather was relatively soft, something I noted for its price point. The reins were also by Collegiate but were not included with the bridle. The reins weren’t quite as supple but definitely not as stiff as some new reins I have used. I think that if they were conditioned once or twice they would have been more than soft enough.
The crown was incredibly well padded, exactly what I had expected along with the noseband and cheek pieces. These were the key features as to why I wanted the bridle, and I was not disappointed in that aspect.
The Fit and Feel
Elan has a little Arabian face that I love, and for her entire life, she has always been a cob size. I had looked for a size chart from Collegiate but I could not find one. Perhaps if I emailed them I may have provided with one. I went with her traditional sizing, a cob, but unfortunately it just was not a match.
The bridle fit very oddly, so much in fact that I don’t believe a full/horse would have fit any better. I compared how it was supposed to fit to the photo of the model horse on the website.
The headstall itself seemed to be too long. You will notice in the photos that I had the buckles on the first hole, indicating that it was too small. If you refer to the photo you will see that the cheek pieces on the cavesson go farther back on the jaw. Mine is farther forward, causing the flash to be too far forward. Obviously, this is wrong but I had no choice in the placement of the noseband because where it was currently sitting (too far forward then portrayed by model), literally, could barely make the first hole. Her jaw was too large for the noseband, I could not even put the tip of my finger in between the strap and her skin.
The flash obviously was too far forward but I could not push it back as then the noseband would not fit at all. I tried to tighten the flash and if you notice in the photo, she was at the second to last hole. It was supposed to be much tighter, so much tighter that it would have gone past the available holes. I had kept it loose for the photos, for sake of her comfort. I had not wanted to use a flash on her to begin with but did not have many options.
I couldn’t adjust the cheek pieces any tighter as she already had wrinkles in response to the bit, on the first hole. So though it did fit in the cheek, there was no extra room to work with.
The throat latch was a mediocre fit, I could have done it up tighter by a hole, but there were not many holes of extra room to work with.
The noseband has a lot of flexibility in where it is positioned on the face but from what is based on the Collegiate model it would appear that the ideal positioning is in the middle of the leather pieces/flash. This resulted in the noseband resting a little bit lower than I would have liked.
The crown and browband fit perfectly, they were not tight against her head despite that the rest fit too small, or too large.
She was a very tolerant little horse, letting me poke and prod around her face. She was clearly aware of the bridle. I don’t know how when it was done up she couldn’t find it uncomfortable.
I did not ride in this bridle as it clearly was not a good fit and therefore returned it to the distributor.
I do not believe that the Full size would have fit any better because although it may have been more spacious in problem areas such as the noseband, it then would be too large across the browband. It also would have been too large in the flash and possibly too long in the headstall. I would have considered exchanging it for a Full size if the colour had turned out as I had hoped.
I had very high hopes, but unfortunately it was not meant to be. While this bridle has anatomical benefits, and at a great price; consider sizing up especially when buying for your cob sized horse.
Always get back on,
*The opinions shared in this blog are of my own, and not a reflection of the company or its current and future products.