When searching for a bridle you hear all kinds of brands shouting out their bridle is anatomical and the best for your horse. But is this true? And what is an anatomical bridle?
What is exactly an Anatomical Bridle ?
Bridle producers mostly try to make Anatomical Bridles with the aim of more comfort and natural movement of the horse head, keeping the horses anatomy in mind. This means they have to know about the horses anatomy and know where the nerves run, the bones, what the sensitive parts are of the horse and so on. So the cut of the bridle has a specific design to leave certain parts of the horse free or make it extra soft or totally change the shape.
Does your Anatomical Bridle make your horse more happy?
The aim of making a horse more comfortable is what we highly approve! But unfortunately when there is a commercial interest:
- Some anatomical bridles are only called anatomical for sales but have shapes that will fit no horse. They might think they created something that worked but unfortunately some models just don't.
- Some information told about the bridle leaving certain structures free is false or false on some horses since not every horse is the same.
Mentioned points are mostly the result of lack of knowledge of anatomy and experience with bridlefitting and the fact that is impossible to make a bridle that fits all. The PBF (Professional Bridle Fitting Education) would love to change that! We don't make our own bridles, we just supply the information every horselover but also horse bridle producers needs. So more bridles can be produced that can be customised.
The facts: Every horse is different. Same as us people when we buy a pair of jeans it is never a one fit for all of us. That is the same with the horse.
The horses head can be of such a shape that your anatomical bridle doesn't fit at all. Even when they call it anatomical. So your horses shape decides if your bridle is anatomical or not.
Bone structure, muscles and fasciae are making the shape of the horses head. Veins are important for the blood supply of the head and nerves for the sensation of the skin under the bridle and of course the functioning of muscles etc. Since all horses have a different shape the position of bones, muscles and veins etc differs and therefore most horses are a combination of sizes.
Of course from a producer perspective you like to make bridles that fit most horses but reality is that most horses are a combination of sizes and not just a full or cob. So not only the shape is important but also the size.
Small changes in size and shape on a bridle can make a world of difference for the horse. But you don't always need a bridle that is cut out for the ears or has some new invented shape. An old fashion bridle might be just as well suitable for your horse and even more anatomical than your new anatomical bridle.
We call a bridle anatomical when it properly fits your individual horse!
And that should be your guideline. What is your horse telling you when you try multiple bridles or change bridle parts? What is it's the anatomy and biomechanics of the individual horse telling you? And what do you see in muscle development and posture and conformation that can influence the fit of your bridle.
In this short video that is from a longer video of the PBF you see explained that a rotation in the atlas and therefore unequal muscularity behind the ears can influence the headpiece and therefore the whole bridle. Interesting and logical don't you think?
So if your bridle has a headpiece with a part that is cut out for the ears and on one ear it is actually pressing against the ear, while the other side there is a lot of space, this bridle is not anatomical for your horse! If it is leaving space for both ears than it is (assuming the rest of the bridle fits;)