We know that proper training is the best solution for a horse that won’t cooperate when the bridle is put on or removed. Some horses, however, just seem to skip that page of the instruction manual through mismanagement, bad habit or just craftiness.
Ponies know exactly how high their young owners can reach and place their poll just above that point. Other horses that are kittens to bridle at home may be an entirely different beast after unloading on a crisp fall morning at a hunt or in the crowded parking lot at a horse show. It becomes an exercise in distraction and dexterity to get the halter off and the bridle on before the horse suddenly realizes he’s free to visit his new friends or to play in traffic on a nearby highway.
Several halter designs can help this problem when training hasn’t. The Brid-OVR is a classic leather halter with the simple addition of a chin snap that allows a bridle to be placed over it and then the halter can be removed.
Parker Enterprises has several designs in nylon halters that use a nose release with Velcro or a buckle so that the halter will drop to the poll but not off the horse entirely.
Libertyville Saddle Shop has a halter with extra snaps so it can also be removed from under a bridle.
We found that if you want to use one of these halters on a recalcitrant horse you should try it first on a more stolid model. It takes some practice.
Once some of those snaps are released, the halter is no longer intact in its familiar form and there can be pieces of halter on the ground or loops of halter caught in bridle buckles and bits.
We found the more complicated the bridle, the harder it can be to take off a specialized halter. A full-cheek snaffle, for example, is guaranteed to hang up on the halter ring the first time you try it. The noseband of the bridle also usually needs to be unbuckled for the transfer to take place.
While these halters work fine if the horse is on a lead line, they don’t work as well with cross-ties, since the ties hold the halter rings out from the horse’s head and it’s harder to get the bridle on the horse.
These are specialized halters intended for tying and bridling, but they’re also useful for grooming and clipping since you can get to all the parts of the head. With lots of extra snaps or a Velcro release on the top of the noseband, they aren’t as suitable for turnout or leaving a horse unattended, especially if he’s likely to rub and catch the various releases.
The Brid-OVR is made in the United States from beautiful leather, with fine, solid-brass hardware. It has two snaps, one in the usual throatlatch position and one under the chin. The simple addition of the chin snap allows the halter to be removed after the horse has been bridled.
It has a buckle on the near side of the poll but not on the off side. This is useful when unbridling, since it means less hardware to catch on the bridle’s buckles and bit. Since there is a minimum of snaps, this halter is also suitable for turnout. The halter comes in five sizes and costs $65.95 for medium brown or $70.95 for black.
The Libertyville Saddle Shop Padded Combination Halter hasn’t been marketed as a halter for more control while bridling, but with its extra chin snaps it can be used that way. It has a buckle on both sides of the poll plus five snaps: one on each side of the throat, one on each side of the chin, and one under the chin. With all the various straps and snaps in place, it can be used as a regular halter. Remove the throat straps and it’s a grooming halter. Remove the chin strap and undo a poll buckle and you can slide it off under a bridle.
With all the extra snaps and buckles, however, this halter is likely to catch on a bridle buckle or bit while removing under a bridle, and you’ll want to snap the various pieces back together right away before they get misplaced. The halter has a padded noseband and poll. The leather quality is acceptable; our halter’s brass has some discolorations. The halter is made in India. It comes in black or Havana brown, in cob, full or oversize and costs a very reasonable $49.75.
The nylon halters from Parker Enterprises have a range of options to address a variety of haltering concerns, and you can order the halter in almost any configuration you wish. For control while unbridling, there can be a triple-Velcro strip or buckle on the noseband. Open the noseband and the halter drops around the poll while the horse stays tied.
The nylon is wide, thick and soft, and much of the hardware is stainless steel. The buckle holes are a bit tight until they’ve been worked, and they’ve been burned thoroughly so that they won’t distort under pressure as we’ve often seen on nylon straps. The poll strap has two buckles so it can be replaced with leather and become a breakaway model.
There are several unique hardware choices, including a stainless steel D ring at the noseband that is much lighter than the traditional square but still strong and allows for cross-tying or use of a stud chain. The throatlatch snap is attached with a half hitch, so it can be replaced without visiting a repairman if it does break.
The poll-buckle/O-ring design is smooth to manipulate, and it brings the attachment for the throatlatch off the cheek and behind the jaw where it’s much more comfortable for the horse. This placement also allows for a unique throatlatch V-design so a horse-size halter can fit almost anything from a miniature to a large horse.
Even so, the halters are available in a wide range of sizes from mini to Percheron and colors, including monogramming. Prices range from about $16 to $24.
The Brid-OVR is a beautiful leather halter that will suit a full range of uses in addition to this specialized need and is our favorite here. Our best buy at $23 is the 81500-model Parker nylon with the Velcro release on the noseband. It’s fine for this specialized use, but we wouldn’t leave a horse unattended in it. The Libertyville combination is also reasonably priced for a leather halter with a variety of uses.
Contact Your Local Tack Store Or: Brid-OVR 973/293-8813; Parker Enterprises 870/741-9412; Libertyville Saddle Shop 800/872-3353.
Also With This Article
Click here to view ”Bridling With The Brid-OVR.”