When is a good time to introduce a double bridle to your horse? We have been working with local rider Nikki Goldup who came to us asking for help to fit a double for her mare Wanda. As a horse new to a double bridle we asked Nikki to write about why she has decided to ‘double up’ and will update you on how she is getting on.

About Wanda…and Nikki

Wanda is a 17-year-old, 15.1hh piebald mare. Her breeding is half traditional cob, half warmblood. Nikki has now owned Wanda for ten years and they have evented, show jumped and now focus on British Dressage, working at Elem / Medium level. Wanda is quite a star, appearing on TV at Olympia with various famous jockeys riding her and also has her very own website.

Nikki and Wanda

Why use a double?

Wanda has been competing and gaining decent scores at Elementary and Medium level this year. She goes well in her Bomber snaffle (could put a link to it here) and is light in the mouth. I’d say she is ‘off the leg’ and works into a nice contact, she can be inclined to tighten through her neck when she gets tense and I’ve been working with my trainer Ruth Hurst to keep her soft in her neck and working through her back. It’s taken a while to get to this point as she’s quite a short backed, powerpack of a horse. It’s been an interesting process and I’ve learnt a lot getting to this point. Working through to a correct contact I have been able to get better lateral work from her and work towards more collected paces.  Wanda still needs more suppleness, but we work with what we have, and getting to this point has really reflected on how important the scales of training are – and how you shouldn’t run before you can walk… or half pass before you can ride a supple and correct circle!

We are now working at medium level (doubles are permitted at Elementary level and above) so it seemed the right time to try Wanda in her first double.

Riding wise I last used a double when showing working hunter ponies many years ago, we also had to ride in them for Pony Club tests, so I’m very much out of practice, although I’d say I do ride with light hands. Feeling a bit ‘out of the loop’ I called on the expertise of Forelock and Load to help with fitting and show me a range of possibilities to use with Wanda.

Fitting Wanda’s bits

Kirstie from Forelock and Load came armed with a range of bits she thought would be suitable for Wanda. Having visited the store, I was keen to try the lighter weight Bomber titanium bits. Wanda doesn’t have the largest head for a cob and isn’t particularly large or overly fleshy in the mouth so I felt I wanted to keep the ‘bulk’ of the bits minimal and almost dainty. She’s light in her mouth so I didn’t want to over bit, the titanium Bombers seemed like the right option for us from the start. I’m also interested in their approach to mouth anatomy, designing the most comfortable bits for horses, in the very best materials for their mouths. Forelock and Load offer a ‘try before you buy’ service too which was useful so I could feel 100% sure about our final selection.

Wanda trying her new Bombers Bits

The bits we selected for the first try were: Bombers Titanium Loose Ring Bridoon Elliptical Comfy which was has a similar mouthpiece as her standard snaffle but with smaller bit rings and a Bombers Titanium Weymouth 55 Happy Tongue which is British Dressage legal and doesn’t have rotating cheeks which is now banded by BD. This is why we called in the experts – I compete at events where we are tack checked and have seen people eliminated for incorrect bitting. So, its essential to have the confidence that I’m using ‘legal’ bits that are fitted correctly on my bridle. However we still recommend you speak to your governing body for approval if you are not sure. As we know, the rules are forever changing!

For Wanda’s first double bridle, I adapted a spare black dressage bridle with a slip-head which Kirstie helped me fit. It would have been great to have purchased new leather work too but my budget wouldn’t quite stretch that far. Wanda might get one for Christmas!

First Impressions

I was able to give Wanda a ride at home in her new set up so Kirstie could see how she responded to this very new sensation. Firstly, I rode off the bridoon rein, leaving the curb well alone and allowed her to get used to the feel. She worked very well and so we had a trot, working loosely and with no pressure. Kirstie was happy with things, doing one last check before leaving us with the bits for a final trial week.

Wanda’s very first go in her double!

What’s next?

What’s next?

With such a great response to Wanda’s new double set up we have taken real care as to how we have worked her in it. This has also given me time to re-learn my double bridle riding skills. Find out more about our journey in our next blog…

If you would like to learn more about bit hire and fitting appointments please get in touch:

  • Telephone: 01284 811032
  • Email: info@forelockandload.com