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Barrel Horse Bridling with Trainer of the Year Kelly Murphy-Alley

Choosing and Fitting Bit and Reins for Barrel Racing


By Kelly Murphy Alley

There are a few key components to bridling a barrel horse. It starts with choosing the bit. The bit is just as important as your saddle. Every horse turns differently and every rider uses a different kind of hand. Running in a light bit will keep your horse happy and prevent you from damaging their mouth. In this case we are going to use a junior cowhorse bit.

Next you'll need to choose your reins. This can also vary between rider and horse. The size of your horse, length of their next and other factors play into choosing the proper reins. To properly fit a bit and a headstall you need to make sure it works with your horse, your hands and your riding style.

When placing the bit, putting your thumb inside the horses mouth will help the bit go in easily. Whenever you have a bit in your horses mouth, take a look a the corner of his/her mouth to see where the bit is sitting inside the mouth. A good rule of thumb is to look for one wrinkle in the corner of the mouth. That usually indicates a good fit. More than one wrinkle indicates that the bit is too tight, making it uncomfortable for the horse.

When it comes to fitting the reins its a personal preference, but keep in mind that it's easy to lose hand placement on reins that are too long. If the reins are too short you are more likely to pull at the horses mouth too much.

If you are unsure about how your tack is fitting, consult someone who is knowledgeable in that area and let them help you make sure you'll get your perfect ride.

Kelly Murphy-Alley
Striking KMA Performance Horses
Wilmore KY
For more on this topic please review our Stall Mats Horse Equine Rubber product page.