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Halter under bridle? Odd questions

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  • Halter under bridle? Odd questions

    I was always intructed to remove the halter on your horse/pony, then put the bit n bridle on. Both at the western barn I lessoned at and the h/j barn I lessoned at.

    Now I volunteer at a barn, have for a while and will continue for all eternity to pay for my board......but I notice some odd things that I am not sure is a "yeah everyone does things different" or a "Wow they are being cheap" or even "that ain't right!"

    When they are done saddling up one of the horses and go to put the bridle on, they keep the halter on the horse, open the side buckle on the bridle and slip it around the face of the horse.
    I was always intructed to take halter off, have bit in palm of hand and slide the bridle over the face.
    I am not sure I should really be concerned about something so menial, but it still irks me when I see them do it. And yes I am a little OCD that I have the same steps n ways of doing things that if my plan goes outta whack, I get grumpy and discombobulated

    Also, they have one bridle n bit for EVERY one of their horses to share (which are about 9 that are ridden), it's washed and dried before and after every use so it's not a total eww moment, but still....not all horses mouths are the exact same right?!?
    Again, is this something that happens often, or are they just being *economical*?!?
    if you havent fallen off a horse….then you havent been ridin long enough

  • #2
    I see no big deal here. Many “trail strings” or in other situations where you might want to tie a bridled horse leave the halter on under the bridle.

    When starting youngsters I leave the halter on at first, makes it easier to bridle (you still have control of the head), and you can use the halter for leading (as leading by the bit can be confusing for a young horse). Now, I do not unbuckle the cheek piece, but rather just put the bridle on as normal over the halter. Depending on the fit, the bit may need let down a half whole to accommodate the extra width the halter takes up.

    As far as one bit for all of the horses. MOST horses use a 5 inch bit. Oversized horses may need something bigger, and ponies may need something smaller, but most should go just fine in a 5 inch snaffle. However, it is unlikely that all of the horses have the same length head, so the check pieces should be adjusted accordingly.
    APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


    • #3
      Originally posted by jessiesgrrl View Post
      I am not sure I should really be concerned about something so menial
      I think the word you're looking for is TRIVIAL, not MENIAL.

      As far as I'm concerned this not only falls into the "everyone does things differently" category, but also into the "MYOB" category. Presumably if you have your own horse you can continue to bridle him/her the way you wish? Then grant them the same courtesy.

      As far as bits? I would say that if the bit is of moderate size and mild, it would fit a lot of horses. The question would be, what do they do if they encounter a horse that it DOESN'T fit?

      And lastly, if they were "just being economical"? Good on them, the way things are going. They are trying to have a viable horse business, a luxury expense in a down economy. You try it.
      Shall I tell you what I find beautiful about you? You are at your very best when things are worst.


      • #4
        If they want to leave halter under bridle, why not? As long as it doesn't affect how the bridle works, why cares? *shrug*

        And as long as the bits/bridles are the right size for the horses, why not share tack? Not all horses mouths are exactly the same, but bits only commonly come in a few different size increments. As long as an individual horse isn't showing discomfort from the style of bit, I don't thing it's a big deal. Just be sure to adjust cheek pieces correctly so the bit hangs at the right height.
        Veterinarians for Equine Welfare


        • #5
          I'd never leave the halter on under my english bridles (way too much equipment, imho), but I almost always do with my western bridle. If I'm out on a trail and have to get off and lead for a while, I'd by far prefer to use the halter than the reins. Plus, if you need a potty break... ;-) Much easier to tie.



          • #6
            Our rule of thumb with the trail horses is if there is a noseband - no halter and if there isn't, leave the halter on.
            Southern Cross Guest Ranch
            An All Inclusive Guest Ranch Vacation - Georgia


            • #7
              We did halters under bridles all the time at my old instructor's place. It made managing summer camp - where the horses might have to stand tied for a bit or might get a bit tetchy about another day of bitting up, and it wasn't unlikely that we'd have to grab a lead rope and a horse in a hurry because of the rider - so much easier. We always did over-the-face bridling.

              I find it a little odd that you're saying there's only one bridle... but that's only because I'm wondering what they do if there's a group lesson. My instructor had seven or eight bridles, and we switched them between horses all the time.

              Take a deep breath, accept that this is how their horses are trained, and don't let them tack up your horse if it bothers you.


              • #8
                the camp i volunteer at uses standing stalls, so they leave halters on so they can clip the horses on; they just remove all the cavesons (sp?) if it's an english bridle. I know I always prefer to ride without a halter under the bridle simply because it annoys me, but then again i jump so i usually don't need a halter to clip to. it might be more convenient for them. As long as it doesn't hinder the way the tack works, or rub the horse it should be fine
                as for sharing the bridle, where i ride we share bridles as needed all the time. if we're using a normally western horse for a english flat lesson, we grab someone else's full cheek snaffle and roll with it. as long as its clean and the bridle is adjusted correctly... and they dont mind only being able to use one horse at a time...


                • Original Poster

                  [QUOTE=JoZ;5795231]I think the word you're looking for is TRIVIAL, not MENIAL.

                  Thanks JoZ, I always get words mixed up

                  And thanks everyone else for the advice

                  I figured it would be a everyone does it their own way kinda situation..........I just wanted to make sure. I would hate it if they were doing something wrong/dangerous and me just turning a blind eye

                  And as a side note, I know understand why they keep their halters on.....last night the BO 15yr old daughter wanted to ride one of the TB, and she is a first stage beginner at best, so we had to use the halter to hook TB to a lunge line Now I get it! hahaha

                  And it's not a lesson barn, so they usually won't need more then one horse out at a time, so yeah only one bit n bridle is really needed.

                  Thanks again for the insight!
                  if you havent fallen off a horse….then you havent been ridin long enough


                  • #10
                    When I was a kid, we always left the halters on under bridles. And yes, I've worked at some stables where every horse was worked in the same bridle. Just needed a little up and down adjustment, but a snaffle is a snaffle, and back then there weren't 500 fancy alternatives.
                    Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by jessiesgrrl View Post
                      they keep the halter on the horse, open the side buckle on the bridle and slip it around the face of the horse....
                      Also, they have one bridle n bit for EVERY one of their horses to share (which are about 9 that are ridden)
                      I am guessing the reason they undo the cheekpiece to put the bridle on is that they have to adjust it to different holes to fit all the different horses they use the one bridle on each time. You can't just slip it on since it's sized for the previous horse each time.


                      • #12
                        Leaving a halter on under the bridle is pretty common as around here, it is trail riders and working cowboys; both groups want to be able to tie a horse if needed and even slip the bridle for long waits. Even on the track, many do it for morning exercise - halter, 'happy' bridle and go jog, then put the happy bridle on the next horse; happy bridle is a stripped down race bridle, no blinds, no overcheck, no noseband and a half-cheek snaffle, either jointed or mullen mouth, and sometimes just a rubber bit.
                        Founder of the Dyslexic Clique. Dyslexics of the world - UNTIE!!

                        Member: Incredible Invisbles


                        • #13
                          I think leaving the halter on looks sloppy, but I certainly dont think its bad, or even lazy. Some people like it for safety, I have left the halter on for trail rides.
                          as for the bridles, I dont have a problem with that. yes, you could pass along some sickness, but you could do that with brushes, the person turning out, and the neighbor girl who comes in and pats all the horses on the nose, im not worried about it. And I would much rather have 1 or 2 bridles to clean well at the end of the day than just kinda wipe down 9, especially when most horses wear the exact same thing!


                          • #14
                            It's easy, English Bridle, no halter (or now at my age-- use my stbs race halter as the cavason), if I show, or have guests I use my proper English Briddle, but when I am breaking I always used a stripped down open stb briddle, the horses like it, if they have teeth problems due to age or whatever that are being addressed, but will take time, or as this is less restrictive, and they find it relaxing, I use this briddle with a halter for handiness under it. I have spent years with stbs, but I also (and do again) show horses, in english and trained some western horses for people-- even trail guided for a place when I was a kid-- so I have been around. Stb people do this as they have carts on the horses, and it is one less thing to worry about if your horse can be hooked on the cross ties easily, plus it saves a lot of ruined joggers and race bikes, also at the track these horses where race bridles, simple cavasons that have rings for cross ties and head poles, this is becuase they stand for long periods at the track waiting for their races to be run. So it was an easy thing for them to understand as day after day they are used to briddles going over their halters. I do it becuase it is easy, and the horses don't care, but my horses have always had their own briddles, and they have each their specific bits, this is so I don't have to think about it, just go the harness hanger, and get their equipment, pre-fit/sized, and the right equipment. If I had to share I would, and wouldn't give it a second thought. It is just easier not to. There is nothing wrong with wearing a halter on under the briddle, as long as it does not interfere, and as long as you are not showing! Having a halter on has saved some of the horses a lot of trouble, as they do get loose from time to time, and just recently someone's horse got loose in the the jogger, and ended up on the highway, we caught the horse (not easy) and this was as the briddle was mostly off, but the halter was still on, quick grab the line, then the halter, safe for the horse!!!

                            Mostly though it is a time saver, so to each their own I would say as long as it does not harm the horse. lol


                            • #15
                              When I rode western, we always left the halter on under the bridle. *shrug* it was just a little easier I guess, and that way juuuuuust in case someone was to take a tumble or the bridle was to break (I did speed stuff so that wasn't really unheard of) there'd still be something on the critters head, plus it's easier for tying a horse up out on the trails.

                              As far as the one bridle/one bit... I sure hope they have a spare bridle, that would suck if it broke... As long as the bit fits all the horses I don't see a huge problem with it though.
                              Trying a life outside of FEI tents and hotel rooms.


                              • #16
                                Hee - just read the tack hoarders thread, which rang a loud bell. Someday I might need that whatever/small random piece of leather.

                                Now, even allowing for 1 bridle for the horses and one for the ponies, I'm picturing all the room - and money- I would have if I only had two bridles for my herd. Hmm..... Sounds pretty good to me.



                                • #17
                                  I use the same bridle on 8 of the 12 horses on my place. The only exceptions are one really big horse who needs a larger size, and 3 that have special requirements (a different bit, bitless, whatever). I have more than one bridle but it's a PITA to switch around when I'm working one horse after another, so I don't unless I have someone else riding with me or something. And these are horses in actual training programs, not just basic lesson ponies.

                                  As far as the halter under the bridle goes, it's only a problem if they're trying to rig up an English bridle around it or something like that (although I have done that on green horses and just left the cavesson super loose, but it still is too much stuff on the face IMO) but if there's no noseband on the bridle it is perfectly fine and pretty common. Even if it does have a noseband, unless they were cranking it shut so that the hardware of the halter interfered with it or something I still wouldn't care...it might not be ideal but I don't think it's really dangerous or uncomfortable for the horse.

                                  I don't leave halters on my riding horses except the green beans, but I do leave them on while teaching beginner lessons for exactly the reason you saw illustrated--sometimes it's great to just be able to hook a longe line to the halter for a few minutes!
                                  exploring the relationship between horse and human


                                  • #18
                                    I currently don't keep a halter under the bridle but when I worked with a green-as-grass- baby you can bet I sure did. It is a looot easier to keep control of their head when they have a halter, and definitely leading as well.
                                    Proud member of the COTH Junior (and Junior-at-Heart!) clique!


                                    • #19
                                      I used to ride at a place where I would trail ride almost exclusively - sometimes going out for hours. I always left the halter on under the (English) bridle and brought a lead rope along. You never know when something may happen far from the barn and you either need to tie the horse, lead the horse back due to a lameness, or the bridle breaks and you need to ride back with halter and lead to steer.

                                      Does it look neat and tidy? No. Does it hurt anything? Not really as long as all the straps are arranged and adjusted so nothing interferes or pinches. Just a different way of doing things.


                                      • #20
                                        The trailhead for my favorite driving trail is right at a busy highway, so I keep the halter on until we're harnessed and hitched, but a buckle-nosed halter allows me to take it off from under the bridle. Kind of a pain to do, but easier on my nerves.

                                        If there are multiple, less-than-expert riders tacking up, keeping the halter on seems preferable to risking an escapee...
                                        They're not miniatures, they're concentrates.

                                        Born tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth