How to adjust your double bridle

Dale Forbes

How to fit your. . . .. double bridle:


(Originally from our other website, but on the move:)


But, re the double. I can hear it now:  “If you are using a double bridle you ought to know how to do this already! ”

This is a catch-22 that we don’t need to get into.  Here’s how it works:

If you are putting together a double bridle with two bits, the strap that hangs the snaffle part is a separate thin piece of leather with the same kind of attachments as your cheek pieces, but usually only one adjustment, mostly kept on the near or left side as well.

The curb bit is always held by the main crown piece, not the smaller extra strap.  This is because part of the curb action depends on poll pressure and a wide pressure is kinder than a thin strap—never mind that the leather is stronger.

Two notes here about equipment.  Padded head stalls sound like a great idea.  They are not.  Poll pressure in a double bridle is supposed to be felt and interpreted by the horse.  Padding this is not a kindness and leads in almost all cases to a gummy, heavy feel in the hand.  Think of it like holding the reins with huge overstuffed mittens.  You can’t feel anything subtle.

Note re size of the bits:  The bradoon (snaffle bit with smaller rings) will be the size your horse normally wears in his or her snaffle..  Thinner, of course, and with smaller rings, but basically the same width. The curb, which does not bend, should be one size SMALLER than the snaffle bit.  You see a lot of horses in the US terribly bitted when it comes to their doubles, and a lot of rider guilt and ignorance about how this tool is introduced, used, and fitted.

Anyway, the snaffle in a double bridle hangs above and behind the curb.  When you put it on, the curb chain runs  between the two bits, under the snaffle, and over the curb.  People make a mistake with this frequently (usually running it over the top of the snaffle—ouch!)  and it is not nice for the horse.


(This is a detail from where Melynnda shows her prowess as both a rider and a web designer. . . . .  Good JOB!)

By the way, tipping the top part of the curb backwards helps make it easier to do up the curb chain.  After you have done this, make sure the snaffle part is still sitting in back of the curb. Pull on it and put it there for your horse.

Other things people frequently have questions about in clinics are correct use of the dressage whip. More on that later.

Tack cleaning








Dale Forbes

Photo: A number of years ago, my good friend Sally Sovey and I, at a World Cup qualifier.  (She was foolish enough to sign on as my groom.)   As you might imagine, there was a good deal of scrubbing involved.

Well after that, we had too much wine one night and thereupon decided to promote a new product: Wooly Washers–which are great, by the way, but that’s not what I am here to talk about. (My editor Joanie is going to just LOVE that sentence. . . every punctuation problem you can imagine. Knock yourself out! ) [Note from Joanie: Thank you. I have done so.]

But anyway, I am here to redirect you to an article I wrote a number of years ago about tack cleaning, which, though not rocket science,


some of you may be interested in:

Go Visit:


The object that looks like a dead cat toy above is actually a Wild Wooly Washer (felted saddle soap), which we invented and still sell.  When used enough, these items cause visitors to declare, “Ewwwwwww!” on spotting them in the bottom of your tack box.

I have never understood this sort of person.  Dead mice phobia.  We hang out in barns. A dead mouse is rather a good thing. Okay, maybe not in the tack box.  But anyway, the “Ewwwwwers” are probably  the same folks who find the trail of “poo over ice” that we do up here in the north to get to the indoors in two pieces–one horse, one would-be rider–gross.  I’ll get you a photo later.  It is impressive.

And while we are at it, here is a tack cleaning item you should not be without.  You literally can’t get it anywhere else outside of Germany, so prick your ears:


Fabulous for places that tend to get wet–like cheek pieces.  You can get it here:

More generally, this small tack shop has all the good stuff.  Why?  Because they listened to what we wanted and went to the ends of the earth to get stock.  They are great.

On the page after the one you are directed to above, there is also some information on how to break in tack and adjust a double bridle.  I’ll give that info in another post.  Many people don’t know how to do it. Enjoy the ride!