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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey everyone! I'm thinking about buying an ergonomic bridle, such as the Rambo Micklem.


The arguments made in favor of this bridle seem positive and sound. But it's one thing to read about it, and another to hear from those who have tried it. Anyone noticed any positive changes in a horse wearing an ergonomic bridle? Any recommendations for brand/model? Any information is helpful. Thanks!
 

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Or you could just ride western, ride without a cavesson, or ride with a looser cavesson. But I understand if you show or something, that is not a really an option......at least not the first two. Maybe the third would be.

I ride western and have never used one, so I probably shouldn't even be commenting. But all the while I was watching that I was thinking the problem is people like to clamp the mouth shut with the cavesson, not really the cavesson itself.

This does look like a more humane option for riding with a tighter cavesson. But if a person doesn't use the cavesson to clamp the mouth shut, I can't see it making a big difference to the horse. I don't think the poll gets much (or any) pressure in a snaffle bit (but it would in a leverage bit). And the extra little brace attaching the snaffle to the cavesson is interesting. It's almost making it a combination bridle.......giving a bit of nose pressure. Hmm.

One a side note though, I sometimes get the urge to try out new bits and tack. So sometimes if I can afford it, I will buy something just to try it. So if that's how you feel and it's in your budget, why not? I don't think there is anything wrong with their logic, only that people ride with a cavesson way too tight if their poor horse's mouth is going numb.

Oh, the comment in the video about horse's rubbing their mouth on their leg because of the cavesson on the facial nerve.......while it could be true, I have some doubts. My trail horses do that all the time (loose bridle, little contact, no cavesson). I take it to mean they are sweaty and have an itch. :cool:
 

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I tend to agree , about the tightness of how the bridle is put on being more important, and that horses without a caveson love to rub their faces after a ride, too..


Is your horse having trouble? or are you just curious and have extra cash?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
In general, tack ideas that promote the horse's freedom of movement and comfort always interest me. But there are a lot of commercial gimmicks out there, some of which claim to fix problem that are actually uncommon or not real. That's mainly why I'm inquiring. I know that I'll get honest answers here and I appreciate that.

@trailhorserider I'm glad you did comment! I'm not really interested in riding with a tight caveson - did I miss something about that bridle? I thought the intention was to dissipate pressure, bypass sensitive pressure points, and overall lessen discomfort. Anyhow, I ride both Western and English, and I haven't used my bridle with the caveson for a long time. I use a level 1 Myler D-ring bit, but she does fine bitless too. So, yes, sticking with that setup would be the simplest answer, lol. However, I might start showing at some point down the road, and I believe in practicing in the same gear I'll be showing in. If we must have a caveson it might as well be comfy. I heard about ergonomic bridles, found that info, and thought I'd post here to see what everyone thinks of this.

@tinyliny Just curious for now. But even if my mare never has a negative reaction to a caveson, some horses put up with a lot without showing much for it. But she's usually not quiet about that sort of thing. Bridles that claim to be 'ergonomic' are expensive. I realize that. That makes it more important to ask if they're worthwhile and whether the claims presented are true. I'm frugal up to the point of being a conscientious horse owner. :cool:
 
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A bridle that is fit correctly does not hinder a horses natural head carriage nor way of doing anything.
A caveson fit and adjusted does not impede a head nor stop breathing as needed by the animal.
That is true though for all tack, not just bridles.
Well fitting tack, all equipment is a compliment to the animal not a deterrent.

I think, no I know there is a lot of gimmicks today in the equestrian world...
Called marketing, advertising, endorsements and story-line given to separate a fool from their money is what my grandparents would of said.
There is also the "fad and fashion" trend that makes many jump on the band-wagon and buy because so-and-so has so I must now get...
See it in saddles, rider apparel, bridles, bits...just everything regardless of discipline.
Even food and supplements fed are often marketing strategy...
Somethings are improvements, but most are a glorified new name for same merchandise. :neutral:

I personally am a tough sell...don't buy into the hype, marketing and advertising gimmick.
For me to buy that bridle you would have to prove to me there is a marked improvement in my horses way of going that I can see, feel and watch a change take place under the exact same riding conditions with only a headstall change occur to part my $$ from my pocket. :neutral:
:runninghorse2:...
jmo...
 

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personally i found that the micklem bridle never really worked for my horses and me, only when going bitless haha. but when it comes to ergonamic bridles i find that the noseband does not really effected the way my horse moved, held the bit or framed up.

however anatomical headpieces are a Must for all my bridles because the pressure off the poll as well as the freedom for the ears, the small divits and larger crown piece really help my horse relax his head and be more responsive to the leg because he is not focusing on the bridle.

the fit of the bridle is also important, things like looser cheekpieces (see
for a good fitting bit), a looser noseband and no flash noseband.

I personally don't like flash's thats why i didn't really like the micklem so i use a regular french noseband bridle with an anatomical headpiece.
good anatomical, quality bridles for a reasonable price is PS of Sweden bridles.

hope this helps!
 

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I see those types of bridles as excellent marketing gimmicks. If you don't need to tighten your noseband excessively, I don't see any issue with a normal one.

I had someone explain the bridle types to me as a belt vs a harness. If I need something to hold my pants up, I can use a normal belt adjusted properly without physical discomfort. However, if I am going to rock climb, I want something tight enough that there is no way it can slip off. If I tighten a normal belt to that point, its going to be pretty uncomfortable. However, if I change the belt to a climbing harness, snugging that down is much more pleasant.

In the above example I need a very tight thing around my body because nobody wants to fall to their death. I would question, however, why a horse needs a noseband so tight that a traditional one won't work..
 

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I don't know if I would call PS of Sweden affordable. I have two kinds of anatomical bridles a micklem and a PS knock off. I like them both. Keep in mind I don't fasten anything tight, not flashes, not nosebands. For my horse an anatomical bridle makes 0 difference. Though I know for others using the Micklem has been night and day for a fussy horse. I've read that a noseband and a flash is simply an unstable figure eight and can be quite restraining to the horse. Certainly the horses I've met haven't been very pleased with the traditional noseband set up. They do seem to like the higher jaw strap and the flash attachment on the Micklem and the PS that I have hasn't seemed to upset anyone (I'm not keen on flashes as a rule). I will say I adore the minimalism in the Micklem. Just two buckles, and less hassle to get on the face, whereas with a traditional bridle for the same effect you have an extra buckle and you have to lift the noseband and chance getting a strap in horse dearest's eye. In winter the reduced buckle number is a great boon to cold fingers.
No bridle is a substitute for good training. But sometimes it's nice to buy beautiful tack and getting something ergonomic for a fussy horse sometimes is a little bit of a leg up.
 

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A good friend with a picky TB mare has a Micklem. Her mare prefers a loose flash to stabilize the bit, but she also wasn't a fan of the traditional noseband even if it was loose. She was given a Micklem as a gift and her horse goes very nicely it in compared to 'regular' bridles. However, she rides a lot of horses and says that it makes zero difference on every other horse she's ridden with it, so unless you can try one first, it's probably not worth the cost.
 

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To me, this just looks another rendition of a Figure-8 ...

The similarities are just to convenient when I look at it...
A proper Figure-8 offers relief and support, subtle pressure...
Without the hype and name it is also a fraction of the cost.

The wider poll strap padded and larger ear browband...well, that is just having the bridle fit the horses skull properly.
These options already been on the market for more than 20 years.

Just like you can shop better quality bridle pieces in several lengths...
I'm still just not seeing it, the price to pay for the hype name.
I guess I just don't get it about the buckles either...still see 3 straps needing buckled. :shrug:
Cold fingers...I do understand.
:runninghorse2:...
 

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@horselovinguy

That one is the PS of Sweden knockoff. It was about $80. They pretty much are versions of the figure eight, or they have the same effect. I like the high jaw attachment since I think it gives the horses more range of motion than a typical cavesson, leave the flash loose and you've got a show ring legal option for the kind of horse that refers no noseband at all (if usdf could change their policies that would be great... While they're at it they can legalize the Waterford) The other photo with the black bridle and me aboard pony, is the micklem. I got it used. I paid... Hmmmm I think $40, no reins. It's the one I use presently, and it's the one with less buckles. Of them, I like it the best, for the sheer simplicity and the aesthetics. Pony goes as well in it as he does everything else.

I have used a figure eight, for competition on a mare that much preferred no cavesson at all but tolerated the figure eight fastened very loosely with an extremely generous and fluffy piece of sheep skin. I do wish that at the time I could have put her in a micklem- I think she would have liked it much better, but I'll never know, she's happily in semi retirement now and is long past the show ring.

I will add: said mare was the one who turned me on to doing something different. She was so finnicky. It didn't matter one iota how loose the cavesson was, she would clack her teeth and cross jaw, you could have it flopping loosely in the breeze, or appropriately snug. She hated it either way. The bridle she is wearing in the photo was $21 and cheap Indian leather. I soaked it in a bucket of oil for a week to make it pliable. It was the one cavesson she would be okay with. Most people use them to get more pressure on the face to close the mouth, but for us it was our "loophole" we could fasten it loosely and she wouldn't get fussy, I think the sensations on her face were often too much for her with a regular noseband, and we between the smaller looser straps and the padded nosepiece she was alright for a 5 minute dressage test.
 

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I agree it's mostly marketing. Bridle fit is important- keep the nose band loose, or remove it completely. Check your headstall. Many are too tight on the edges of the browband. If that is the case, get a wider brow band. Don't use a super heavy bit- heavier bits put weight on the poll. Keep your throatlatch loose enough that your horse can round up like a dressage horse without choking.
 

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No comments on functionality, besides a friend who used one, which her horse seemed to work well with. What I will say is that they can be difficult to fit and would not correctly fit my horse's broader warmblood head. I did wish that it would have fit my horse though!
 

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I bought the Micklem bridle for my very sensitive TB mare (who has TMJ) and it completely changed her comfort level when riding. She would never stretch down into the bridle and would often get above the bit, carry lots of tension in her head and neck, and would constantly chew on the bit, but with the Micklem she stretches down and is quiet and soft. It also used to be a bit of a chore to bridle her but with the Micklem she practically throws her head into it. I highly recommend it from all the difference it made for me and my horse; I wouldn't ride her in anything else! I would easily say it was well worth the price! I haven't tried it on my other horses though, so I cannot attest to it's universal effect.

One thing to note, the bridle comes with clips that can be attached to connect the bit to the noseband. My horse is much happier with the clips attached and can't stand being ridden without them. I guess its up to each horse's preference as to how they like pressure distributed. So if you do end up making the purchase make sure to experiment with that.

Hope this was helpful :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thank you for the discussion everyone. =)


@Whiska13 Interesting! My mare once behaved somewhat like that (no caveson.) The problem ended up being that her (as basic as it gets) snaffle was too wide. We replaced it with a Myler, which I think she appreciated for more reasons than simply bit width. While it's clear that your mare is doing better in the Micklem, did you check bit width too? Just wondering. =) As I understand it, the clips seem to distribute pressure through the caveson, but that puts pressure right back on the nose. It might be somewhat of a catch-22 - something to think about. Doesn't mean I wouldn't try it. Have you shown in that bridle, with the clips?
 

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Pitching in once again on types of bridles. Due to steroids and a stray tumbleweed Nick absolutely obliterated his micklem while I was bridling (it's in so so many torn pieces and he busted my favorite reins too!) so despite having a pile of bridles, I replaced it with the collegiate Comfitec that was on sale for $80. I have to say this is my favorite bridle I think I've owned. The leather is so so buttery soft, and it just oozes quality. As for the design it is far more adjustable than any bridle I've purchased before, which is a huge boon since Nick has an atypical face and I generally have to poke holes in new bridles. The straps are pretty streamlined and thin, so there's not a lot of bulk on the face, and I love how I can slide the "noseband" up or down depending. I will say I think it runs small, since Nick was in the middle of the holes for the cheekpieces and he's usually on the tightest/last hole. So I'd size up if anyone is looking to purchase (we bought a cob and we can usually fit either a pony or a cob).
As for how he went in it- well as I've mentioned, he probably doesn't need one, so he went about the same as usual, nothing appeared to bother him about it, and I noticed he sweated less around his ears.
For the price, the bridle is killer. Honestly the leather feels top end and they were super careful with details like padding under all the buckles (downside is there is now once again three buckles to do up) so the horse doesn't accidentally snag a hair- which I appreciate mid Winter immensely. I've attached a few pictures including comparisons with my knockoff PS of Sweden which was a similar price point.



Quick thought on anatomical bridles: keep in mind I mostly like them because they're pretty (fads are the fodder of the aesthete). Nick has never been bothered one way or the other. But if I was starting a new horse and picking out a bridle, I'd probably go with an anatomical bridle anyhow since their cost is similar to a quality regular bridle, and I'd much rather just go for a bridle that is comfy for the horse than figure out after three rides that the typical cavesson set up is just not going to fly (see story of mare who went in a figure 8) and have to go back and purchase another bridle or noseband piece. As far as I can glean from pictures on Facebook pages, there are some professionals (Denny Emerson comes to mind) that roll with that policy and appear to keep a stock of micklems and ones like the Comfitec on hand. I mean? Why not? Unless you're riding hunters there's no particular rote dress code.
 

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