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Why I don’t use the measurements Pony, Cob and Full.

To a non-horsey person that must sound like utter gibberish, but the horse lovers amongst us know that every item we purchase for our horse to wear (apart from rugs and saddles) tends to come in three sizes, “Pony”, “Cob” and “Full”. Now that’s perhaps a little brash, some places now offer “X-Full” or “Warmblood” as measurements or perhaps “Small Pony” but realistically there aren’t enough options given the range of horses we have.

Firstly, how many of you have a horse that fits one of these sizes perfectly? “She’s not quite a “Full” but too big for a “Cob!”” “The “Full” fits, I just need to punch some extra holes!” “I just bought the bridle in two sizes and use the “Cob” headpiece and the “Pony” cheekpieces.” Sound familiar? If you just think about it, there are so many different breeds and types of horses, how can we possibly think that 3 sizes will fit them all? Let’s use a bridle as an example. Is a 12hh show pony really going to fit the same size bridle as a 12hh Exmoor?  Will a 16hh thoroughbred take the same bridle as a 16hh Irish draught? I think not.

But even two remarkably similar horses, say two 16.2hh ISH geldings, may have small differences that could result in their bridles fitting differently. One could have a slightly longer head, a narrower nose or longer cheek bones. Another factor to be considered is what type of bit are they ridden in. A bridle may fit a horse beautifully in his snaffle, but change to a leverage bit for cross country and suddenly the cheekpieces are far too long.

You may have read all of that and think, ok that makes sense, but I actually have a horse that genuinely does fit a “Full” size. Well, I hate to break it to you, but there is no consistency with sizing across brands (ladies I’m sure you can relate!) Just now I have googled “Full size bridle measurements” and for the cheekpieces alone, I found four different measurements: 9”, 9.5”, 10.5” and 11”. So, when someone asks me to make a “Full” sized product and I just stare blankly back, this is why, I don’t know what size that is?!

To summarise, I’m sorry if it’s a bit of a pain having to get actual measurements for me, but I promise that there is good reason for it and hopefully a better fit as a result.

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Bridle Fitting Course

Yesterday I attended a fascinating course put on by the Society of Master Saddlers about bridle fitting. Large portions of it I felt were basic knowledge that I feel I had from my pony club days such as where nosebands and browbands should sit and the function of different nosebands but there was also lots of very interesting information.

The part I found really interesting was the detailed look at facial structures with particular attention on the nerves and then considering how anatomical bridles can be used to reduce pressure points on horses.

I also really enjoyed learning about to results of some of the most recent studies on noseband pressure (a hot topic in competition at the moment). I’m looking forward to putting what I’ve learnt into practice, probably starting with a new bridle for my own horse Victor.