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Giving the Horse the Right Signals. The Double Bridle.

Learning to ride horses correctly and effectively is arguably more difficult than learning to drive a car. Follow the basic instructions that are common to all cars and you'll eventually be able to drive any car within a short time. Horses have some rules but you have the added 'feature' of individualism. Learn to ride one horse and get on another and the techniques you used on the first horse might be ignored, or worse still interpreted differently by the second horse. Imagine driving off in a new car, hitting the brakes and nothing happening because you were using the wrong brake.

So in learn the right techniques to get a specific horse to ride the way you want you need to read and learn his own individual instruction manual. Most riders just read a generic "horse riding basics" manual and never get around to reading "Grey Mare called Dotty - A Detailed Instruction Guide V4.2.  Author - Dotty !!!".

Horse bits and their different types are a plenty however there are 2 main categories that most fall into, namely Snaffles and Curbs. Most riders and most horses start out with a simple Snaffle bit and control is applied via direct force on the bit through the reins. Typically as the horse gets older and possibly more petulent and the rider more confident it is common to use different variations of the Snaffle such as a French Link Snaffle. Sometimes such as if the horse becomes stronger relative to the rider a Curb bit such as Swales might then be used which introduces leverage to control the horse.

The overriding thread that should always run through any choosing of a horse bit is if the horse likes it, goes well in it whether it be a Butterfly Flip Bit, an Eggbutt Snaffle or whatever then go for it. However the discussions on the subject of bit choice typically revolve around the concept of control and a leverage bit with its power often is the conclusion. However one should look more at horse riding as achieved by identifying and refining a set of signals that your horse responds to. This is where the Double Bridle has developed as a specialist approach that combines features of both snaffle and curb bits.

Experienced riders find that that double bridle gives them a more complete "signal set" and allows the horse to be directed in a more nuanced manner. For advanced and sophisticated forms of riding such as dressage it is a prefered bit.

The double bridle comprises two separate bits with four reins attached. The bits are a bradoon snaffle and a curb bit. A bradoon is a snaffle bit designed to be complementary to the curb bit. For example it must not too wide and placed higher in the mouth so it stays clear of the curb bit's port. The curb bit or the Weymouth simply offers the ability to apply curb pressure when needed. There is a fine balance between making the mouthpieces of the two bits thin enough so the horse can comforable take the bits in his mouth but not so thin that the tongue gets caught. It can be a good idea to search out a custom horse bit maker to ensure you get the correct and compatible components of your double bridle.

The master of the double bridle knows how to use both bits seemlessly but only applying either as necessary. For example in modern dressage, most riders keep a soft handed contact with the bradoon bit and only employ the curb bit to get the horse to collect.

But here lies the beauty of this dual bit solution and for the advanced rider it is the perfect solution.  Not for the beginner.

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