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5 Best Anatomical Bridles for Happy Horse Heads

anatomical horse bridle
Written by Horse Rookie

Looking at old black and white riding photos can be a fun blast from the past. Looking at the old riding tack, on the other hand, probably makes you grimace. We’ve become a lot smarter about the gear we use for our horses and ourselves.

One piece of horse gear that has dramatically improved is the bridle. Anatomical bridles, in particular, are designed to avoid putting pressure on horses’ sensitive facial nerves or pinching the ears. The result? More comfortable horses and better natural face movement while riding.

What is an Anatomical Bridle?

Traditional bridles tend to have straight cheek pieces, a simple noseband, and a straight crown piece that goes behind the ears. The brow band is also typically straight and snug across the horse’s forehead.

Anatomical bridles, on the other hand, are strategically designed to avoid key facial nerves, relieve pressure points, and increase muscle freedom, and boost overall comfort. 

If you look at a bridle and see curved cheekpieces, extra padding, cutouts behind the ears, and/or a curved brow band, chances are that you’re looking at an anatomical bridle.

Should You Make the Switch?

Even if your horse seems ‘fine’ in his current bridle, you might notice a big difference with an anatomical bridle. Head shaking, face rubbing, and bit resistance can all be signs of discomfort.

By switching to a bridle your horse finds more comfortable, you may also find his movement frees up and and he’s more accepting of contact, among other benefits. 

Some bridles take anatomical design adjustments farther than others.

You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars on the fanciest option (though you certainly can). Your first step might be trying a bridle that offers slight improvements, like the ExionPro that allows more ear movement and pads sensitive areas around the nose and over the crown.

What is the Best Anatomical Bridle?

The short answer is “it depends.” Your horse, budget, and preferences will help you decide on the “right” bridle. To get you started, we’ve showcased a few favorites below.

Stübben Freedom Bridle

The Stübben brand is synonymous with equestrian luxury, and their Freedom Bridle is a prime example.

The headstall and brow band clear all sixteen ear muscles and doesn’t put any pressure on surrounding nerves.

Sensitive neck and throat areas are also pressure-free, and hinged cheek pieces ensure a wider field of vision for your horse.

This bridle comes standard with Stübben’s innovative flash system that can be removed.

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Schockemoehle Equitus Alpha/Beta Bridle

Though we can’t pronounce it, we can applaud it. This innovative bridle comes in two variations (Alpha/Beta) that differ only in the width of the noseband and whether the brow band has crystals.

It’s designed to avoid the main facial nerve.

Click to see it at Amazon

It bypasses critical blood vessels and arteries, as well as relives neck pressure. Plus, the cheek pieces attach directly to the noseband. Extra padding adds even more comfort for your horse.

PS of Sweden High Jump Bridle

The High Jump bridle is one of the most innovative anatomical options on the market. 

Every element is designed for ultimate horse comfort.

The unique noseband relieves pressure on sensitive nerves, pressure points, and blood vessels. It’s also more flexible and padded than most. 

Dispersed poll pressure, ear cutouts, and elastic bit cradles take comfort even further. 

Fairfax Performance Bridle

If you want data-driven innovation, look no further than the Fairfax Performance Bridle. It’s scientifically designed using pressure mapping technology.

It’s proven to reduce pressure by up to 84% and force by up to 77%.

Fairfax focuses on fixing six pressure areas commonly seen in other bridles. As a result, your horse’s range of movement, extension, and flexion should improve.

Passier Marcus Ehning II Snaffle Bridle

This anatomical bridle from Passier was (as the name implies) developed in collaboration with professional show jumper Marcus Ehning.

This bridle avoids cheekbone and facial nerve pressure.

The padded crown piece has ear recesses for optimal movement and comfort. Plus, it has a padded brow band with a ‘wave’ shape to alleviate pressure.

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About the author

Horse Rookie

I began riding horses at age six, and I'm just as infatuated (OK, more!) with the sport decades later. My AQHA gelding exemplifies the versatility of the breed -- reined cow horse, reining, roping, ranch riding, trail, dressage, and jumping. We're also dipping our toes (hooves) into Working Equitation!