Dr. Pat Bona - Doctor of Chiropractic

Grooming, Horse Health, Posture prep blog, Technique

January 28, 2016

Does Your Horse Dislike Being Tacked Up?

You greet your horse, tell him about your day and groom him with your Posture Prep Cross Fiber Groomer. Your now very relaxed horse is one happy camper until you bring out your tack.  He resists putting on his bridle and squirms when you put on his saddle. Why? Ill-fitting tack may be the culprit. Within this “Thinking Thursday- Tack Tip Series”, we’ll help you to ensure your horse’s tack fits properly.

As you may know, the correct selection and fitting of tack is very important if you want your horse to be relaxed and to be able to work for you without being uncomfortable or in pain. A horse cannot work well in badly fitting tack in just the same way that you cannot walk in badly fitting shoes. Tack that rubs causes sore areas, leading to mild to extreme discomfort in the horse; therefore poorly fitting gear can be the start of many physical and behavioral problems with horses.

According to the RSPCA, “physical signs that a horse is sore from poorly fitted gear include tender areas which will be felt when grooming the horse or will cause the horse to resist being saddled or ridden, through to actual open sores which obviously will lead to even more resistance on the part of the horse due to extreme pain.

In particular, the areas of the horse that are commonly affected by poor fit are the mouth corners (due to problems with the bit), the base of the ears (due to problems with the browband), the front of the nose and the back of the jaw (due to problems with the noseband), the area behind the elbow (due to problems with the girth) and the back area due to problems with the saddle cloth and/or due to incorrect saddle fit.”* Today, we’ll talk in particular about how to properly bit your horse’s browband.

Let’s begin with the Browband:

The browband keeps the bridle from slipping back, toward the horse’s neck. Signs that your horse’s browband may be ill-fitting include your horse shaking his head or trying to rub the bridle off, although many horses do not show any outward signs that their browband is too tight. It is the rider’s job to ensure proper fit, especially as a too tight browband can “pull the headpiece too close to the ears and cause several issues, including subluxation and tension of the jaw, pole and neck”, states Dr. Pat Bona. A too loose browband will cause the entire bridle to work incorrectly.

How to Properly Fit a Brow band:

A proper fitting browband sits below the horse’s ears (about two fingers width), neatly resting on the horse’s head without tension or gapping. Check out this helpful video from Magic Browbands, a manufacturer of top quality browbands.

Next time, we’ll discuss how to properly fit your horse’s bit to ensure your tack does it’s job and allows your horse to stay safe and comfortable. Stay tuned for this monthly series!

*Educational Contributions:


Magic Browbands

Photo credits:

Manolo Mendez Dressage

Dover Saddlery

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