Fitting a bridle correctly to a race horse is very important for jockeys as they saddle up for a big race.
After all, if the bridle didn’t exist then neither would horse racing as we know it. So what exactly is a bridle? And what does ‘on the bridle’ mean?
WHAT IS A BRIDLE?
Race horses are some of the most powerful animals on the planet and being able to control them when racing is an art all jockeys must learn. Part of controlling a race horse comes from the relationship between man and beast—and a lot of that rests in the bridle.
The bridle is headgear that the race horse wears in order for the jockey to better control it. There is a bit that runs between the horse’s teeth attached to head straps, while reins come back down the neck and into the hands of the jockey.
If a race horse didn’t have a bridle then the jockey would have nothing to hold on to—and would likely fly off the back of the horse as soon as it began running!
WHAT DOES ON THE BRIDLE MEAN?
The term On the Bridle is therefore used when a horse has accepted the bit between its teeth, and the reins coming back to the jockey. Horses sometimes don’t take to the bridle and can grow frustrated—an occurrence many horse racing betting fans may see in the parade ring before races.
When this happens, the jockey will aim to clam the horse down and familiarise it with the bridle. In most circumstances the horse will settle and be ready to race.
Likewise, Off the Bridle is a phrase used when the horse isn’t traveling well.
If a horse wins ‘on the bridle’ it generally means it has cruised to victory and not had to be ridden hard.
WHY DO HORSES HAVE A BIT?
A bit is a vitally important component of horse racing. It runs between the two sets of teeth in the horse’s mouth and is used to clamp the bridle in place. The bit is a far more effective way of keeping the bridle steady than, for example, a nose cone or additional strapping around the head.
The bit and bridle can also reinforce the pressure a jockey will use when steering a horse, as it is attached to the reins. This means the jockey can more safely control the horse, which is beneficial to both rider and animal.
DOES THE BRIDLE AFFECT RACING ODDS?
You may think a horse struggling to be comfortable on the bridle could affect its horse racing betting odds—but in reality the prices are more likely determined by other factors. By the time a horse has reached the parade ring, racing betting bookmakers will have priced it up depending on things like form, age, gender, jockey, trainer and the going.
Granted, some punters may sway away from a horse if they see it fighting back against the bridle or the bit. Yet part of the jockey’s job is to ensure the horse is comfortable before heading out onto the racecourse and so won’t rush to get racing if there are bridle issues.
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