Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Horse Knowledge

In response to a recent request from Sara, I will be further continuing my horse knowledge posts so non-horsey readers understand what I'm talking about. Today I will discuss the difference between a halter and a bridle, because none of my friends seem to understand the substantial difference.. okay, almost none. I have a few horsey friends. Not many!

A halter is what you use to lead a horse around. Yes, you can lead horses around in a bridle, too. And yes, you can ride with a halter. Here's a picture of a basic, generic, plain nylon barn halter for everyday use.

This has no rolled throatlatch, no breakaway tabs, no snap at the throat, nothing. Nicer halters will have the throatlatch section rolled like the one below. The one below also has a snap at the throat to allow ease of use.

Again, a stock image. As you can see on the noseband, instead of plain metal rings, special halter rings are used. They have either two or three slots for the nylon to go into and it keeps the straps in order, as well as being good in cross ties, pictured below.

Not all halters are made of nylon. Pictured below is a nice leather halter, generally used at either high-end barns for every-day (in my experience) or at shows.

Another stock image. As you can see, this halter has a snap at the rolled throatlatch, nice brass hardware, and an adjustable noseband.
Some halters are used specifically in the show ring. For example, a Western show halter is seen below.
As is easily visible, Western show halters go heavy (no pun intended) on the silver and bling, though this one doesn't show as much bling.

Arabian show halters come in all forms, too. There's the wire variety, a very minimalistic halter that accentuates the Arab's dished face. I think they're in style now, but I could be wrong because I know next to nothing about that. For those wondering how on earth to actually lead the horse with it, there's a chain that goes through those two rings and attaches to a lead rope.
I said they come in all forms, and that's true. But since this is a comparison with the regular bridle, I have to stop here. There are rope halters for natural horsemanship and such, and many other special types of halter for show and for every-day, but these are the most common types.

The bridle is what most people use to guide their horse's while in the saddle. Many bridles have bits, but bitless bridles are becoming more and more popular.

The basic English bridle is seen below. It has a caveson, or noseband, a crown, a browband, a throatlatch, and a bit. And, obviously, reins.

An English-style bitless bridle can look like this, with an English Hackamore "bit." In reality, it's not actually a bit. It puts pressure on the horse's nose, chin, and crown, and has the same effect as a bit. AKA, stopping/turning/other stuff.

Another popular bitless bridle of today is Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle [insert little trademark symbol here]. I have no idea how effective they are or how they work... but they look like this.
Looking at this again, I think the idea is to put pressure on the jaw.

The difference between halters and bridles is pretty simple when you put it in Hunter terms. Halters are for leading the horse, bridles are for riding the horse. When you get into it, they have all sorts of uses. But that's the simplest way to put it.

I hope you enjoyed that and that you now understand the difference between halter and bridle (if you're a non-horsey person).

Now for the daily update. I'm currently working on a halter with a fleece noseband for my ASB (picture below). The halter is black nylon and the fleece is blue. This is my first time doing something like this so here's hoping it works well.

New pictures of Jones tomorrow.


  1. Whoaa Eva, thanks SO much! I understand it (a little better) now. :D

  2. Oh good. That was the general idea. :) Anything else you'd like to know? I guess I should do one about Hunters.