I love the fact that I’m seeing these bridles get more popular, I’m taking that to be a sign that more riders are choosing tack with their horse’s comfort in mind.
The Micklem bridle was designed to avoid facial nerves and pressure points on the horse’s face, and to fit comfortably by leaving room around the ears and eyes. The noseband works like a drop or flash noseband does, supporting the bit and lower jaw, but without wrapping all the way around the horse’s nose like a standard or crank cavesson does. More information about the design of the bridle and the way it’s supposed to fit can be found here.
My first impressions of this bridle were that the leather was of decent quality (despite some of the other reviews I read online), and it was simpler than I thought it would be getting it put together and adjusting it to fit right. I got the regular horse size and had it on 2 thoroughbreds, one 15.3 and the other 17 hands. It fit both without issue.
After using it for a little while, I’ve decided I like it. It’s not a miracle bridle, but both horses do seem happy in it, although neither is a night and day difference compared to their regular bridles. I do like how the “cheek pieces” that hold the bit on are very short, the bit doesn’t move as much as on a traditional bridle and I feel like my horses like that stability. I love the option of using the bit clips to transfer some of the pressure from the bit to the noseband, and I think that is something I will do with young horses I start in the future. I could also see that being a great option for a horse used in a lesson program.
I also used this competition version of the bridle with the reins attached directly to the noseband without a bit. I don’t think it’s sold to be used this way, but it did work as a side-pull style bitless bridle. This option gives this bridle exceptional versatility!
The other (silly) thing I like about this bridle is that it has less parts than traditional dressage bridles. There are less pieces to adjust and buckle, and less leather to clean.
If I was going to be picky, I would say the thing I don’t like about this bridle is the way the bit is attached. The leather pieces that hold the bit on end up folded in thirds by the time they loop through the headstall, bit, and keepers. For such a minimalist piece of equipment, that little part seems a little bulky to me, and is the hardest part of the bridle to clean. Attaching the bit that was does give the most adjustability though, so I suppose that’s a worthwhile trade off.
Overall, I like this bridle. The quality is good, and the fit is good. Both horses I tried it on seemed comfortable in it, and it’s easy and practical for daily use. It offers more options than a traditional bridle. It seems easier to fit on the horse than a drop noseband (which are hard to size just right, and often seem to sit either too low on the horse’s nose, or pull the leather on the sides really close to the horse’s eyes). If you’re in the market for a bridle, it’s worth considering!
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