Double Bridles - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 07-20-2018, 09:59 AM Thread Starter
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Double Bridles

Hey everybody!

Lately I have been horse researching (needing 1-3 years more experience before ACTUALLY considering purchasing) and I have come across so much debate with the double bridles.

All I know about them is that they are used for higher level dressage (PSG and all) and are for the more advanced movements. But then I have a horse friend of mine who is schooling novice/elementary on a 16.3hh TB x Fresian x Standardbred putting her horse in a double. She is using the Grad Prix Bridle from PS of Sweden and says he goes really well in it. I just don’t get it, why do people need it and what’s the hype? When are you supposed to double bridle your horse, and when do you know your horse and you are ready? I know it can fine-tune aspects of collection and extension in the gaits, from what I’ve heard. Are they abusive even? Do you have to get them fitted?

I’m just super interested to see the answers to my question(s) and learn a little more on the whole “double bridling” scheme.
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post #2 of 22 Old 07-20-2018, 10:07 AM
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This probably won't be helpful, but I once rode a horse in double reins and a Pelham because (coach) "he's a bit frisky today". Not only was he not frisky, I also found the extra strings to be hugely cumbersome.

(I should probably state, for fairness's sake, that the above coach looks for a lighter bit whenever she can, so when she hung up the Pelham for me I though, "Well, this ought to be interesting!")

I'd ask your friend how she uses the snaffle and the curb rein in order to get such nuanced responses she couldn't get with a single rein. My guess is that it's just gadgetry on her part, like people who buy a Porsche with a track timer and then never take it to the track.
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post #3 of 22 Old 07-20-2018, 10:22 AM
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This is my totally inexperienced opinion - I don't show or anything. But I think there comes a point where rider and horse are so well trained, so together, that adding some gear to help give extra cues can be amazing in terms of communication between rider and horse. Instead of 4 buttons they now have 10. Same with spurs. Sad thing is all equipment can be "weaponized" as I like to dub it and used not for what it was intended. But for a lot of people results matter more than investigating the why.

It's likely one of those infuriating situations that if you "don't know" you're probably not ready :P Then the dilemma of finding what it takes! For me personally I would have to be confident in knowing that I have achieved the basics at a high level and properly appreciate the sensitivity of my horse and her limitations before I start adding extra "buttons". When people use double bridles to have an extra brake I can sorrrrrrrrrrrrrt of understand and certainly in some situations, but I know that if I* needed that extra brake that we have a lot more to work on before going out anywhere. I just don't think that's all it's good for.
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post #4 of 22 Old 07-20-2018, 10:51 AM
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Personally, unless you are doing very fine, advanced work and need the ability to do special cueing I see no reason to ride in a true double bridle with two (2) bits in the mouth.
Some ruling associations dictate the use of a true double bridle...
I rode in a true double bridle but a few times...
I have a soft touch but felt I was to heavy-handed for that much finesse in communication that bridle afforded..

To adjust a double is done with the same principle as any other bridle...buckle and strap length adjustment, at least the ones I used.
Unless she is doing a hunter under saddle appointments class think it is, then the bridle was sewn together to exacting standards, it use to be a rules must. {my age is showing }

I use to ride in a true Pelham bridle with single bit and 2 reins when I needed more than a single rein bridle offers.
I still today do not use gag/elevator bits nor nose-bands of specialty order as is today's seen fad choice.
My bridles have a conventional nose-band on them, sometimes I may buckle on a drop attachment, not to crank a mouth shut but applied gently to quiet a very active mouth so better feel and communication can exist between partners.
My Pelham bridle with 2 sets of reins can apply great pressure to the poll and jaw if I chose but I ride 99.5% or the time off my "snaffle" direct reining rein not my curb rein engaging the extra pressure or subtle, subtle cue..
The few times I engage the curb bit is to cue for a better collection point if riding a test say in the show ring...a ride-off.
There were also some classes {think it was hunters} that demanded a Pelham bit used. It better have 2-reins too not that converter thing they use today.

Most today if they use a real Pelham bit use a bit converter strap to make it easier for the me that defeats the purpose of such a bit.
That converter strap if attached and you pull on the rein then you just engaged the curb action too...for some that is not nice to your horse!

Finesse is so much in riding communication.
Today, I ride in a simple snaffle, direct reining bit...of various mouthpieces...usually a straight bar or slight curve in the bar but no horses like them better than any broken 2 or 3 joint mouthpiece they tell me in responsiveness and mouth quiet.

So, with your friend riding as she is in what she is...
I wonder if she is either doing it to accustom the horse to carrying 2 bits all the time or if she is using the combination of bits to strong-arm the horse, more a forceful way of making the horse do something with less effort on her.
A band-aid to training missing...
Sorry, that sounds nasty and I not mean it that way.

As true with many pieces of equipment we have at our disposal is the riders hands and education in using correctly that makes any equipment be kind and educating or cruel.
The softest, simplest bit can be wielded and injure/hurt...and some nasty, nasty appearing bits can be so gently and kindly used they are like butter melting and no hurt...all in the hands guiding the use of.

I guess you need to ask her why she rides in what she uses and sees what she says...
I don't ride that level of expertise so can't offer more than that as to how do you know...
That's all I've get some answers and let us know please...everyone can use increased knowledge when dealing with out hooved friends.

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post #5 of 22 Old 07-20-2018, 07:59 PM Thread Starter
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Wow! What a bunch of awesome posts! I have learnt about the double bridle. I agree I’m saying from my knowledge, doubles are only encouraged if you are doing high level dressage. I haven’t gotten around to asking her, but she did mention she will just compete in them and is training him to get used to the double. I think her and her coach are quite keen on the idea of fine tuning his movements since he can muck up (buck/rear) even in a snaffle? I’m 100% she is not meaning for this to be abusive in any way, shape or form but I will say she tends to be a little too harsh on her horse at times. I mean, I have a love of dressage and am beginning to learn it, but I would never really use a double bridle unless I needed to. My friend says “she’s at that level of dressage now we’re you can start using them”, but she’s actually not really, because in my country the dressage rulebook states that in Advanced level dressage you require a double bridle.
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post #6 of 22 Old 07-20-2018, 08:13 PM
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If a horse is known to "muck up (buck/rear) even in a snaffle", it is not yet ready to be "fine tuned". It sounds like both horse and rider need further training before considering fine tuning.

Training riders and horses to work in harmony.
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post #7 of 22 Old 08-05-2018, 05:51 PM Thread Starter
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Just a re-cap to this oldish thread.

One of the riders on my equestrian team rides in a double for hack shows and prelim dressage I believe? I don’t think there are many that do this. I just wonder why for such low-level dressage people need such a high tool.
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post #8 of 22 Old 08-05-2018, 06:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Horseyfever13 View Post
Just a re-cap to this oldish thread.

One of the riders on my equestrian team rides in a double for hack shows and prelim dressage I believe? I donít think there are many that do this. I just wonder why for such low-level dressage people need such a high tool.

There should be no "need" for it. I can think of two possible reasons for using it, however:

1) For practice.
2) To show off.
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post #9 of 22 Old 08-05-2018, 06:27 PM
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As far as I am aware the double bridle (two bits/4 reins) was never an option until third level. My understanding is that now you can use a single bridle at any level but you are still not going to be using a double at training, 1st or 2nd level.

The only reason I can see is that the horse has competed at higher levels with a more experienced rider in a double and that is what the HORSE is used to. That does not mean your friend is experienced enough or ready for its use. Nor is it permitted at FEI or USDF shows. I may be wrong but that is my understanding from my child's instructor. He rides in a snaffle for most of the horses but one uses a single bit/double rein (pelham).

Last edited by QtrBel; 08-05-2018 at 06:33 PM.
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post #10 of 22 Old 08-06-2018, 11:52 AM
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I went back and reread. Two things - 1st your account of the rider and her horse suggest this is her answer to her horse's behavior. 2nd I forget you are not U.S. but your Medium should roughly correspond to our 3rd so still more advanced than where your friend is.
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