Nothing throws me - as a horsewoman - out of a story faster than the author misusing the horse tack terms of halter and bridle. And it happens. All. The. Time. It happened again just last week. The hero took the horse by the halter, grabbed the reins, and swung aboard. Um. No.
Halters: Used for leading or tethering a horse.
Jason is wearing a standard halter. These are made of leather or nylon and buckle behind the horse's ear. There are several brass or steel rings to attach a lead rope or tether.
Cash is wearing a rope halter. It does the same job, but lacks any hardware. The halter is tied behind the ear and the lead rope is tied to the halter. The biggest advantage of a rope halter is that it's fully adjustable to any size horse.
Bridles: Used to control the horse while riding.
Cash is wearing a standard western bridle. The bridle consists of the headstall, which buckles behind the ears and includes a browband that lays in front of the ears. (Most western bridles do not have a noseband - but English bridles do.) The bridle also has a bit that goes into the horse's mouth with two reins attached. Cash opened his mouth so you can see it here. The combination of bit and reins allows the rider to control the horse. The horse responds to the cues, such as when the rider lifts the reins, moves the reins, or draws back on them. He feels these movements on the bars of his mouth, the area with no teeth between his incisors and molars.
In the photo above, Cash is wearing the same bridle over a tie-down. The tie-down consists of a wide leather noseband with a strap that buckles behind the ears. The noseband is connected by another leather strap to the cinch of the saddle. Horses wear this type of equipment when roping and working cattle.
In this photo, Cash is wearing a hackamore on the headstall in place of a bit. It's commonly called a hack. The reins attach to the hack and it services the same purpose as the bit, but applying pressure on the bridge and sides of his nose, instead of in his mouth.
I ride my old Trooper in a hack.
Pegg Thomas - Writing historical fiction with a touch of humor.