On Saturday 28th September, I attended the Society of Master Saddlers’ Introductory Bridle Fitting course that was taking place at Moulton College in Northamptonshire.

Theory Session

At 9 am, we all went into the lecture room and sat down. The morning was to be our theory session.

We had a workbook given to us which followed the schedule of the day.

The Horse’s Head – a Veterinarian’s Perspective

Dr Jane Nixon presenting
Photo: SMS Website

The first presentation was by Dr Jane Nixon, the consultant veterinarian for the SMS who talked us through the horse’s head and the consequence of bits and bridles.

As a once aspiring vet myself, I find these sorts of lectures really interesting.

The horse’s anatomy never fails to amaze me. This presentation specifically touched on the skeleton, the circulatory and nerves systems of the horse head and how a bridle can affect these areas.

Dr Jane Nixon also advised us on the best practices of biosecurity when visiting yards and potentially touching various horses.

Most of it was common sense, but nevertheless, it was good to recap.

Successful Lorinery Selection

Our next presentation was by Tricia Nassau-Williams, a Master Saddler, Saddle Fitter and Lorinery expert.

She talked to us about the reasons why we use a bit and the different types available to us in today’s world.

It was really interesting to look at the different shapes and sizes of a horse’s mouth and tongue, which can all affect the fit and use of a bit.

We stopped for a quick comfort break where some of us grabbed a coffee or tea. There were no biscuits though, So disappointing lol. 😀

Bridle Materials

Once back in the lecture room, our next presentation was by Emily White, a Master Saddler and harness maker, who explained the importance of quality bridle materials and their safety aspects.

I have built my business, on the basis that I will only use the best leather available and wherever possible, I intend on using British leather too.

British leather is renowned to be the finest of all leathers because the leather is still being tanned in the old fashion way which guarantees the strength and durability, just what we need for saddlery.

I wrote a blog about our British leather industry here. Have a read, it’s really informative.

I believe the UK has been swamped by cheap and poorly made imported saddlery which have increased the amount of repairs, us Saddler’s have to do.

You, the customer are sold ‘butter soft’ leather bridles at cheap prices, but I can assure you these are not the future.

Bridle Fitting Consultation

The next presentation was by Frances Roche, a Master Saddler and harness maker, about the correct way to measure and fit a bridle.

Did you know that quite a lot of the images on the front of horse magazines have horses in poorly fitting bridles?

This is not the fault of the magazines, but it does highlight the need to educate the everyday rider and competitor on how to fit their horse’s bridle.

I will write another blog about how a bridle should fit correctly, so we can all go away and make sure our own pony’s bridle is comfortable for them. 🙂

Customer Relations and Record Keeping

Finally, the last presentation of the morning was by Helen Reader, an SMS Master Saddler and Harness Maker.

She advised us of the legalities we should be abiding by when selling our products and services and keeping records.

As lunchtime arrived so did the need to refuel.

Practical Session

With lunchtime over, we convened in the indoor arena.

The afternoon was taken up of individual practical sessions involving some of the college’s horses.

My first practical session, presented by Di Fisher, talked us through the correct fitting of a double bridle.

Tricia Nassau-Williams correctly fitting a bit
Photo: SMS Website

The second practical session, presented by Tricia Nassau-Williams, explained in more detail about bits, fitting them and their actions in a horse’s mouth.

The third practical session, presented by Helen Reader, showed us some of the specialists anatomical bridles on the market today.

Finally, the last practical session, presented by Frances Roche, got us working out the measurements when creating a made to measure bridle.

Frances Roche putting on a made to measure bridle
Photo: SMS Website

Overall, it was a really informative day and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

If you are interested in taking the same course then feel free to contact the Society of Master Saddlers and they can put you onto the reserve list for next years date.

I will write another blog about how to check if your bridle fits correctly, but until then, have a great day. Clair x

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