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"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Friday, May 22, 2015

Halter vs Bridle

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.




12 comments:

  1. Great info! Thanks for sharing! Now I'm going to be noticing errors in horse tack usage too... :)

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    1. Oops! Maybe ignorance is bliss after all?!

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  2. I know what you mean! I also hate how they say horses are so loyal and such. Now I'm not saying that our horses don't care and love us, but they aren't going to think of your safety when an animal attacks or something, prey instinct is going to kick in and there is no way that horse is thinking of you now. I get jealous of these characters with the perfect animals. ;P

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    1. Very true, Brooke. It's a rare horse that will face a foe. The black horse in the first photo was one of those. He was incredibly special. I never had to worry about coyotes on the property with him out there, or stray dogs. But the time he tangled with a porcupine cost me a vet bill!

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    2. Oh wow! A porcupine?! My horse is a chicken. Wait... He's even afraid of chickens. Jason must have been a really special guy. :)

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    3. Jason was a retired Thoroughbred racehorse. He was 11 years old when he came to live with us. He was our son's first real horse. He taught our son to be a rider. He truly was a horse who looked out for his rider. I never worried when our boy was out on him. Jason died last December at the age of 25. Lots of tears shed over him. He was a very special horse.

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  3. Great post, Pegg! Thanks so much for sharing! The hack piece is new to me. So is that why they refer to some taxis or carriages as hacks, Pegg?

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    1. Nope. The hackamore's earliest origins are a bit fuzzy, but it seems likely that the Spanish adapted something the Native Americans were using when they caught and tamed the horses the Spanish had left behind.

      The carriages known as hacks are short for hackney have been around since at least the early 1600s. There is also a breed of horse called Hackney which was developed in Great Britain to be a strong trotting horse in the 1500s and used primarily for riding, but later adapted to more of a carriage horse breed.

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  4. This was such and interesting and informative post, Pegg. Thank you. Your horses are beautiful.

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  5. I love this! So interesting and useful for those of us who write about horses but are not knowledgeable. Thanks!!

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  6. Glad you ladies found it helpful.

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  7. I've heard of these terms, but the definitions were fuzzy. Thank you! Very helpful.

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