How to measure your horse for bridle parts
To get the best fitting bridle you need to get your horses measurements, in inches (or centimeters if you wish to be the most universal). Most bridle makers use entirely different size charts so what one calls Horse or Full Size can differ greatly from another bridle makers Horse and Full size, so taking measurements is a VERY important step. You will use these measurements and compare them to the size chart of the bridle/ headstall/ part you are looking to purchase for your horse.
Below are the “how to” articles that I had on the retail site: “Part I – How to Measure Your Horse for Individual Bridle Parts” and its companion article “Part II – How to Translate Your Horse’s Measurements to the Bridle Parts.”
*NOTE – I am working on getting these updated a bit and put into PDF format so that they can be downloaded and then taken to the barn.
How to Measure Your Horse for Individual Bridle Parts
To insure that you get the best possible fit I urge you to start your shopping with some measurements in hand.
The things you will need to take these measurements are:
A cloth measuring tape – now some horses believe these will eat them. Don’t worry, just grab some string, yarn or anything long enough that your horse will allow you to wrap around their head. Use this to get the measurement then take it to the tape or ruler to get the actual measurement.
Small stickers, pieces of tape, or chalk
Paper and pen to write down measurements
Before you start measuring your horses head, we recommend using small stickers, pieces of tape, or chalk marks on your horse’s face at the listed Key Measurement Points to insure that you are measuring from the exact same spot each time you take a measurement. (See Figure 1)
Key Measurement Points
Crown – Eye to Eye: Measure from eye level to eye level, over the poll, from A to B. (See Figure 2)
Crown – Corner to Corner: Measure from the corner of your horse’s mouth, over the poll, to the other corner, from C to D. (See Figure 3)
Crown – Over the Poll: This measurement is best taken with a bridle on. This is an “over the poll” measurement like in Figure 2 except this time instead of measuring from A to B you are going to measure from the top edge of the browband, over the poll, to the top edge of the browband on the other side.
Figure 2 Figure 3
Measure from the corner of their mouth to the level of their eye, from D to A. (See Figure 4) Label this Cheek Measurement. To get your final cheek measurement you will need to subtract the size of your bit rings. Measure from the end of mouth piece to the outside edge of the ring. (See Figure 5) Label this Bit Ring Measurement
Measure from E to F (See Figure 6) for the length of the browband. Loose enough to get two fingers under the measuring tape. Make sure you measure far enough back so that the browband will not pull the crown forward and pinch the base of the ears. (See Figure 7) Label this Browband measurement.
Figure 6 Figure 7
Measure the circumference of the nose approximately 2 fingers below the bottom of the cheek bones. Loose enough to get two fingers under the measuring tape. From G around to G. (See Figure 8) Label this Caveson Measurement – Nose. Now measure from the caveson line to eye level, from G to A. (See Figure 9) Label this Caveson Measurement – Cheek
Figure 8 Figure 9
Measure over the nose from G to H. (See Figures 11 and 12) Label this Caveson Measurement – Bridge.
Figure 10 Figure 11
Measure from E to F under the throat, loose enough to get four fingers under the tape. (See Figure 12) Label this Throatlatch Measurement.
How to Translate Your Horse’s Measurements to the Bridle Parts
First we must point out that our methods for taking measurements and applying them are geared towards a traditional bridle fit. This means the bridle will fit with the buckles of the cheek pieces and caveson end up falling in line at eye level when buckled to the middle adjustment holes. If you desire a bridle that has more adjustment to be larger or smaller we suggest that you use either the top adjustment holes as reference for a fit that can be adjusted larger or the last adjustment holes for a fit that can be adjusted smaller.
If you have followed the directions from “How to Measure Your Horse for Individual Bridle Parts,” you should have a sheet with these measurements:
Crown – Eye to Eye
Crown – Corner to Corner
Caveson – Nose
Caveson – Cheek
Caveson – Bridge
A bridle can have anywhere from five to seven pieces: Crown, Cheeks, Caveson, Browband and Reins. If it is a Double or Weymouth bridle it can also have a Bradoon Strap or Slip and a Curb Rein.
Starting with the Crown.
Starting with the Crown.
Before we jump into the crown measurements, I want to discuss the trend of contoured or comfort crowns. If you are considering one you need to understand that measuring for this type of crown is so very important and will require some creativity. I have seen more issues created with these crowns simply because they do not line up with the horses ears properly and the owners didn’t notice until it was too late. I am going to be putting together a supplemental to this article that will discuss the measuring for these crowns with a bit more depth. What I cover here is a translation for a straight sided or un-contoured crown piece.
When deciding on a crown piece size you want to choose the measurement that is closest to your Crown – Eye to Eye measurement when comparing it to the length between the middle hole of the left cheek billet to the middle hole of the right cheek billet on the crown piece. (Figure 1 – A)
The reason for this is because ideally you want the cheek buckle to line up level with the eye while being buckled into the middle adjustment hole. If you desire a bridle that has more adjustment to fit larger or smaller, we suggest that you use either the top adjustment holes as reference for a fit that can be adjusted larger or the last adjustment holes for a fit that can be adjusted smaller.
The Crown – Corner to Corner measurement can be used with your Bit Ring and Cheek measurements to give you the measurements needed for a Bradoon strap on a Double or Weymouth bridle or an overall measurement if buckle alignment is not important to you. Use your Cheek Piece measurement minus your Bit Ring Measurement to give you the near or buckle side of the Bradoon Strap length. This will be the most important measurement as this will assure that the buckle will line up at eye level. For the right or off side of the Bradoon Strap, take your Bit Ring Measurement and multiply it by 2. Take that total and add your Cheek measurement. Now subtract that total from your Crown – Corner to Corner measurement. This will give you the length the right side or off side of the Bradoon Strap will need to be from the end to the middle adjustment hole.
Example: Your Crown – Corner to Corner measurement is 49 inches, your Cheek measurement is 10½ inches and your Bit Rings measure 2½ inches. The ideal length for the near side or buckle side of the Bradoon Strap is 8 inches. (10½ – 2½ = 8). The ideal length for your right or off side Bradoon Strap will be 36 inches. (2½ + 2½ = 5, 5 + 8 = 13 , and 49 – 13 = 36)
You can also use the Crown – Corner to Corner measurement minus your Bit Ring measurement multiplied by 2 to get the overall length needed for your Bradoon Strap.
Example: The ideal overall length of the Bradoon Strap is 44 inches. (2½ + 2½ = 5 and 49 – 5 = 44)
If your horse has an unusually thick or thin throatlatch you will probably also want to check their Throatlatch measurement against the Crown pieces throatlatch measurement. Measure the entire length of the crown piece on the throatlatch side, from the end of the throatlatch buckle to the last hole of the throatlatch billet on the off side of the crown piece. (B) Then measure the crown from split to split. (Figure 1 – C) Subtract the split to split measurement from the length of the entire Throatlatch. This will give you the ideal length for the throatlatch for your horse.
Next are the Cheek Pieces
Take your Cheek measurement and subtract you Bit Ring Measurement. The resulting figure is the ideal length for your Cheek Pieces. This will give you a Cheek Pieces that are the correct length so that the buckle will fall level with your horse’s eye. Cheek Pieces are normally measured from the bottom of a secured bit end closure to the end of the buckle. (Figure 2 – D)
On to the Browband This measurement is pretty self explanatory. Compare your Browband measurement to the list of the available Browband lengths and choose the closest larger length. When measuring a Browband you want to measure the inside surface of the Browband (the part that lies against your horses forehead). You want to measure the length from end to end. (Figure 3 – E)
Also note that you need to measure the length of the loops on a browband to make sure that they are large enough to accommodate your crown and caveson straps. (Figure 3 – F) It is especially important when considering a browband for a padded crown or double bridle. Padded crowns tend to be thicker than a traditional crown. The Double Bridle will have the Bradoon Strap running through the Browband as well as the Crown and Caveson strap.
And Last But Not Least the Caveson. If having your buckles line up at eye level is your goal then the Caveson – Cheek measurement will be the most important to you when choosing a caveson size. Compare your horse’s Caveson – Cheek measurement to the buckle strap of the caveson measurement (Figure 4 – G) and choose the caveson size with the closest match.
If your horse has an unusually wide or narrow nose then you will want to compare your Caveson – Bridge measurement to the bridge measurement of the caveson (Figure 4 – H) and choose the caveson size with the closest width.
For fit around the nose, compare your Caveson – Nose measurement to the nose measurement of the caveson (Figure 4 – I). For a fit that allows adjustment both larger and smaller, choose a caveson size where the measurement from the buckle to the middle caveson billet hole ( Figure 4 – I) is the closest match to your Caveson – Nose measurement. For a fit that will adjust larger use the first caveson billet hole measurement for comparison, for a smaller fit use the last caveson billet hole for comparison.