Article by Susan Hargrove, Oh Joy Farms
Tacking up our "model" equines can be a challenge with all those little-teeny straps and buckles... it can be very difficult to get the tack in the proper place. We'll start with the "western" bridle. The entire headpiece used on a horse... headstall, bit, chin strap and reins... is called the bridle.
There are four common types of western headstall "styles" used...one ear, two ear, browband and bosal hanger. "One-ear" and "two-ear" headstalls refer to the small leather loops on the crown portion of the bridle that go around the horse's ears. A "browband" headstall has a leather strap that goes across the forehead of the horse rather than the ear loops (a "futurity" headstall is a variation of the "browband" type headstall with a knot tied in the center of the browband). A "bosal" hanger refers to the headstall that is used to hold a "bosal" on the horse's head (can be a one-ear, two-ear, browband or just a "straight" headstall...no ear loops or browband).
The "one-ear" and "two-ear" headstalls are the most commonly seen in the western show ring today. There are different "trends" over the years as to the popularity of the different types of headstalls...however...they are all LEGAL!!
There seems to be some difficulty in putting the bridles on the models correctly. It's very important that you check "each and every" detail to make sure they are done properly.
There are three types of "western" reins...split (used with snaffle and curb bits), romel (used with curb bits) and mecate (used with a bosal). Split reins are the most commonly seen rein in the western pleasure classes at this time. The numbers are about evenly split in the trail classes between "split" and "romel" reins. Romel reins are also commonly used in working cowhorse classes. The different types of reins are each HELD in the hand in it's own unique way.
Most model horses in the western classes are shown with a "curb" type bit. If you choose to use a "snaffle" type bit...then you must identify your entry as a "junior" horse (5 years or under) to make the entry legal.
The placement of the bit on the model in the correct position can be confusing at times. The part of the bit where the "mouthpiece" meets the side "cheek/shank" piece goes right in the corner of the models mouth. The red arrow (above) designates the spot the bit should go in the corner of the horse's mouth!!
Curb straps are normally made of all leather... or leather and chain. Chin straps should lie loosely in the chin groove on the back of the horse's lower lip (unless the rider is stopping a reining/roping horse or perhaps turning a WCH... then the bit is at a more severe angle thereby causing the chin strap to be snug against the jaw).
Common Mistakes Made When Bridling a Model Horse
We'll start at the top of the headstall with the errors shown in this picture (above):
MISTAKE 1. The crown strap of the headstall is not lying flat on the horse's poll BEHIND the ears...it has moved up and forward...now resting ON the horse's ears.
MISTAKE 2. Mistake 1 has caused the ear-pieces to now be UP in the air rather than lying FLAT against the horse's head.
MISTAKE 3. Mistake 1 has also caused the cheek strap of the bridle to be TOO far forward and TOO close to the horse's eye.
MISTAKE 4. The end of the strap is not straight and lying in the center of the cheek piece.
And next, the errors shown in this picture (above):
MISTAKE 1. The cheek strap being TOO far forward has caused the connection of the headstall to the bit to rotate forward...putting an angle on the cheek strap and thereby changing the position of the bit. The left bit shank is now TOO far back and not aligned with the right one.
MISTAKE2. The rotation of the bit has caused the chin strap to move UP out of the chin groove. It is now TOO high on the jaw and TOO snug.
MISTAKE 3. The forward placement of the cheek strap has caused the bit (and therefore the mouthpiece) to be out of position.
MISTAKE 4. The bit shanks are NOT even...causing the reins to be mis-aligned.