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Why Bridle Fit and Understanding Your Horse's Head Anatomy Is So Important

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

Having been through The Pony Club and BHS training as well as owning horses for over 30 years I feel I have a grasp of fitting a bridle – or do I?

gillian higgins horses inside out allison lowther reviews Gillian's Illustrated Head Anatomy

In this blog, horse owner Allison Lowther reviews Gillian's latest book Illustrated Head Anatomy.

Reading Illustrated Head Anatomy has been a real eye-opener and made me look beyond what you can see in front of you when you’re assessing the fit of a bridle.

Having an understanding and being able to visualise all the delicate and sensitive structures of the head that can be impacted by the bridle means I find myself looking at how a bridle sits on a horse’s head in a whole different light.

With this new knowledge I've made some minor adjustments to the fit of the bridle on my own horse, which has seen her way of going improve. She now seems more settled in the contact and the connection down the rein feels softer and more consistent.

The impact on the rest of the body

Divided into seven chapters Illustrated Head Anatomy guides you through the complex structures of the horse’s head. It covers everything from the bony structures of the head through to the sensitive facial nerves. If you learn nothing else from reading this book, you’ll understand just how many different structures there are that make up the horse’s head and how they impact on the rest of his body.

For example, tightness in the soft tissue structures around the TMJ can affect your horse’s movement, posture, balance and comfort. Knowing this makes you consider the headpiece of the bridle you are using – should it be shaped? Padded? All factors that need considering and also remembering that every horse is different and what suits one, won’t necessarily suit another.

And don’t get me started on the hyoid apparatus – this really blew my mind, especially the tongue-hyoid attachment. The tongue is part of the spinal flexor chain of muscles that continues all the way from the tongue to the hind hoof!

A complex subject made easy to understand

This book covers a complex subject which on first look is a little over whelming but as you would expect with a book written by Gillian Higgins the subject is brought to life with amazing images with clear and easy to understand explanations. As a visual learner this book is the perfect mix of labelled up images and text to help my understanding of the subject. Also, dotted through are things to consider when fitting a bridle.

Not forgetting the three short tutorial videos you have access to when you buy this book. These add a further dimension to the subject and definitely helped my learning even further.

Whether you consider yourself an experienced horse person or a novice this book is an essential read. It’s definitely made me re-evaluate the fit and design of the bridle I’m using but also the bit and highlights the importance of riding in a sympathetic way and with the health and welfare of the horse at the front of your mind when training and handling him.

Head Anatomy Recorded Webinar

gillian higgins horses inside out head anatomy related to bridal fit

Learn more about this fascinating subject in the Horses Inside Out recorded webinar Head Anatomy.

This webinar looks in detail at the internal and external structures of the head to give you a clear understanding of what lies under your horse’s skin and to help you see your horse from a new perspective.

This two and half hour recorded webinar is available to purchase for just £10. You'll have lifetime access to the recording, so you can watch it as many times as you like.

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