In the right hands
Horse & Hound|December 23, 2021
When used correctly, the double bridle is a useful tool which gives the rider a huge range of options to refine the rein aid. Leslie Bliss discovers how
Leslie Bliss

CURB

The curb has an effect on the horse when the shank moves to a 45-degree angle; the horse yields by taking his nose in.

BRIDOON

The bridoon is used like a snaffle; if the horse’s head is too low, it encourages the horse to raise its head.

REINS

There are different ways to hold double reins – so first practice with two sets of reins on a snaffle or a pelham.

Top tips

  • Use a pelham or a snaffle with two sets of reins to get used to riding with double reins. Learn to become adept at shortening and lengthening them independently of each other.

  • Ask for advice – trainer, friends, saddler, bit-fitting consultant – to ensure the bits, bridle and curb chain fit correctly. Finding the right bits is not always straightforward and sometimes it takes trial and error.

  • Give your horse time to get used to having two bits in his mouth. Start off using the double with work he finds easy.

  • Make sure your horse doesn’t associate the double bridle with being asked for something he finds difficult or unpleasant. Sometimes, it helps to take him for a hack in his double bridle

“A KNIFE and fork are useful for eating, but put them in an ape’s hands, and they can be dangerous,” points out dressage legend Kyra Kyrklund as she discusses the double bridle.

Caroline Moore, FBHS and British Eventing youth performance coach, shares Kyra’s concern: “It’s an effective tool in the right hands, but it’s often seen in the wrong hands. If the curb rein is used too abruptly and with too sharp an action, it can seriously bruise the horse’s jaw and cause all sorts of back issues from the horse hollowing away from the action.”

Both experts warn against using the double bridle for the wrong reasons.

Caroline says: “In the eventing world, people sometimes go to the double bridle when they feel the horse is too strong or they can’t keep him connected, but you should not use it to manufacture submission. The horse has to be properly through and connected, working over the back, with the correct understanding of submission so he yields to the aids effectively in a snaffle.”

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