“A correctly fitting bridle is essential for horses’ comfort and performance,” says successful candidate. 

Riders can get expert advice on bits, bridles and nosebands from six new Society of Master Saddlers (SMS) Qualified Bridle Fitters.

They are Jocelyn Danby, Lucy Evans, Issi Hodges, Kelly Jones, Amber Baughman-Markley and Jennifer Roy.

Following an SMS Qualified Bridle Fitters’ Course, the six candidates passed the City & Guilds Qualification in Bridle Fitting & Measuring at the inaugural course held at Moulton College.

The course was led by Frances Roche with the lorinery (bits and other hardware) aspect taken by Catherine Baker.

Becoming a bridle fitter…

With so many innovative bits and bridles coming onto the market, interest in their use and effects has never been higher – with demand for advice following suit.  

“A correctly fitting bridle is essential for your horse’s comfort and performance,” said newly qualified SMS Bridle Fitter Amber Baughman-Markley.   

“Even a cursory look at your horse’s head shows it to be angular and bony with little natural protection.”

Becoming an SMS Qualified Bridle Fitter takes experience with horses and at least three years’ training.

Candidates must assess commonly used nosebands, know their functions and determine how and when to use them.  

Likewise, a qualified bridle fitter can advise on the actions, materials and measurements of different bits, which bit should be selected and how that bit distributes pressure on the horse’s head and mouth.

“A bridle fitter must be able to help their clients understand the quality, design and uses of bridles appropriate to a horse’s needs,” added Amber. 

“They must have specialist knowledge and be able to identify faults in a bridle and determine the viability of repairs.”

What the course involves

Successful candidate Issi Hodges added: “I very much enjoyed taking part in the new SMS Qualified Bridle Fitters course and am so pleased to have been successful in gaining the qualification.

“The course affirmed my existing knowledge and certainly broadened it to allow me to feel confident in future bridle fits and to be able to improve the comfort of horses as much as possible.”

The SMS bridle fitting course included theory webinars and practical lectures and assessments at Moulton College in Northamptonshire.

The object is to make available the principles of the SMS recommended bridle fitting system with candidates assessed on fitting nosebands, understanding the actions, materials and measurements of different bits.

Further modules include bespoke bridle fitting and measuring for a snaffle bridle, fitting a double bridle and specialist/anatomical bridles, accessories and fault finding.

“It’s so important for the welfare of the horse to spread the knowledge on all aspects of bridle fitting,” said Frances Roche, a Master Saddler.

“Over time, we will run refresher courses where we will have the opportunity to keep our fitters up to date with the latest research and findings on all types of bridles and related equipment.” 

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