Is your pony's cheek piece in the correct position?
Source: Laura Fiddaman Photography

Next time you put your pony’s bridle on, take a look at where the cheekpieces are lying.

Do they sit alongside their eye? If not, then it is possible you may have the wrong size fitted.

Every day, whilst scrolling social media, I see lots of our equine friends in bridles that are incorrectly fitted. This is mainly because owners and riders are just not clued up enough when it comes to correct bridle fitting.

Off The Shelf Bridles

Most people buy their bridles ‘off the shelf’. What I mean by this is that they usually buy a standard-sized bridle from a saddlery shop, second-hand sales sites or word of mouth.

The standard sizes are generally Pony, Cob and Full, but over the years Small Pony and Xtra Full started hitting the shop floors too. However, even with the extra couple of ‘standard-sized’ alternatives, a lot of owners and riders still have to either buy two different sized bridles to make one good one, or they put additional holes in existing straps, which often result in buckles lying in places that could cause discomfort.

Bumble in his ill fitting show bridle
The Lady Saddler | Bespoke Bridle Consultation

Understanding Our Equines

In today’s world, we understand the importance of making sure our equine’s have saddles that fit them correctly and comfortable.

We have qualified saddle fitters available who come and look at your horse and advise you on the correct fit of saddle based on the horse’s conformation, the genre of riding you will be doing and taking into the riders comfort also.

Search for your nearest SMS Saddle Fitter here

Did you know we should also be doing the same for bridles too?

Did you know there are qualified SMS Bridle Fitters available who are (in most cases) qualified Saddlers or Master Saddlers, and if necessary make you a bespoke bridle for around the same price of a branded off the shelf bridle?

The difference is the quality and workmanship of a handmade bridle and most importantly the fit will be the best you can get.

Tackling One Issue At A Time

As most of you are aware, I am a qualified Saddler and my specialism is bespoke handmade bridles and the correct fitting of one.

With us currently in lockdown, for some of us, money may be short for a little while yet and therefore, I thought it would at least help our equine’s in the meantime if we tackled one issue at a time.

If you are in a position to buy a new handmade made-to-measure bridle (my prices start from £200) then you should contact me directly or find your nearest Bridlemaker/fitter, and request a consultation.

Find your nearest SMS Saddler / Bridle maker here

Source: Laura Fiddaman Photography

If there is one area of the bridle that you should always ensure is positioned correctly, it is the cheekpieces.

Many times, I see ponies cheek piece buckles lying up near the browband loops which is far too near the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ).

If you can imagine having an annoying little stone in your shoe whilst you went for a 2-mile hike off-road, then this is how a bridle buckle digging into your pony’s TMJ must feel. ANNOYING RIGHT!!!

Well, we can rectify this by simply measuring the distance your pony’s cheek should start and finish at, that will then provide them with a well fitted cheek piece.

I filmed a quick video showing you how to measure your pony’s cheek – Watch it below – It’s only a couple of minutes long:

The Lady Saddler in Action

Where Should The Cheekpieces Lie?

Correctly fitted Bridle
Source: Lisa Hoskins

The cheekpieces buckle should sit alongside the outer corner of your pony’s eye, (see picture above).

In an ideal scenario, you would also ensure that the cheek head strap is buckled onto the middle hole. (I.e. 3rd hole if 5 holes in total, 4th hole if 7 holes in total or 5th hole if 9 holes in total.) If this is not possible on an existing bridle, then don’t worry. The main issue here is ensuring the cheekpiece buckles are in the correct position.

Bear in mind though that the buckle will change position by one or two holes depending on which bit you use. In some cases, it may be a good idea to have a separate pair of cheekpieces made for each different bit you use. That way you won’t have to keep taking the billet end apart to change the bits over, you could can just change the cheekpieces.

If you want a new pair of cheekpieces, you can order some handmade bespoke sized ones here.

Alternatively, if you already know of a bench Saddler in your area, then all you have to do is take the relevant measurement, discussed below, to them and they will make you some new ones up.

This service will cost differently depending on whether the Saddler is a trainee, qualified or Master Saddler, so be sure to do your research first.

How To Measure The Cheek:

Measuring Cheekpieces
The Lady Saddler: Measuring Leigha’s Cheeks
  1. Use a tape measure or a piece of string and a 30cm ruler.
  2. Ideally have an existing bridle on the pony with the bit that is normally used in the mouth.
  3. Using the tape measure or string, measure the distance from the bottom of the leather billet (already on the existing bit ring) to alongside the outer corner of the pony’s eye.
  4. The tape will say a number like 7″ (18cm), but if using a piece of string you will need to hold it at the top and bottom of where the leather on the bit starts and where the eye is. Without losing the string measure it against the ruler. It should give you an indication of length in cm’s/mm’s.
  5. Quote this measurement to a bench Saddler when requesting a new set of cheekpieces or if you want an existing set reduced. Bear in mind an existing set of cheekpieces can only be altered appropriately if there is more than 1.5″ (3.8cm) to be taken off the original length.

If you haven’t already checked the short video out on how to measure your pony’s cheeks, then click here to watch it:

There are other aspects of the bridle that should be positioned correctly, but we can come to these at a later date. The most important thing right now is making sure we get your pony as comfortable as possible in their existing bridle.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Be sure to share it with your friends or on social media if you think someone else will find it useful.

Until next time, take care. Clair x

Clair and Leigha

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