There is no doubt about it...we need to put our top equestrian brains together and come up with a new design for the horse's head with six main aims:


1 We need to desensitise the area around the poll.
2 Make the top jaw narrower or the bottom jaw wider so they are both the same width.
3 Move the exit point for the motor and sensory nerves that is just under the cavesson noseband.
4 Fuse and strengthen the delicate ends of the bones at the bottom of the nose where a dropped noseband is usually fitted.
5 (a) Widen the bars of the mouth which are currently shaped like a knife.
5(b) Change the shape of the lower jaw in order to create more room for the tongue.

With the power of Charles Darwin's expertise on natural selection and using selective breeding it must be possible to do all of the above in the next million years.


However in the short term I know there is an alternative solution that delivers what every rider wants...a more comfortable horse and improved results. A solution that avoids the current fashion for excessive rasping (floating) of the teeth, which actually shortens the life span of a horse. A solution which avoids the numbing of the facial nerves caused by cranked up cavesson and flash nosebands. A solution which avoids the bruising of the tissue inside the mouth under the noseband. A solution which avoids fracturing the lower nose bones with tight dropped nosebands; and a solution which will prevent excessive pressure on the tongue and bars of the mouth.

The solution is the Micklem bridle. I am embarrassed in some ways to promote it because it is my invention, but if I put my trainer's hat on I know it is simply fantastic and I need to shout this story from the roof tops because so many horses immediately go better in a Micklem bridle. It also is a way of reducing your costs because it also makes a superb lunge cavesson or bitless bridle. I have to pinch myself in the morning because it is difficult to believe that I have achieved a solution for all these bridle and noseband problems....but it's true and it will probably be the most significant achievement of my life.


With the saying 'a good idea has to give way to a better idea' echoing in my head I set out about 15 years ago with a clean sheet to see if I could come up with an improved design of bridle and noseband. The present version has now been used, tested and refined for the last eleven years. My start point was the skull of the horse, (see photos attached) which means that the The Micklem bridle is truly designed from the inside out, from the shape of the skull itself …in order to avoid pressure on the six areas which consistently cause discomfort with traditional headwear.

FIRSTLY discomfort on the poll with all the weight going on one narrow noseband strap.... This is why we have a widened and padded headpiece with no separate uncomfortable noseband strap.

SECONDLY, when looking at the skull of any horse it is obvious that the top jaw is considerably wider than the lower jaw and therefore protrudes…..this means that tight, cranked up cavesson nosebands and traditional lunge cavessons can cause huge discomfort and damage to the sensitive tissue inside the mouth, as this tissue becomes sandwiched between the outer edge of the upper jaw teeth on one side and the noseband pressing inwards on the other.... This is why we have a drop nose band shape with unique diagonal side pieces avoiding the protruding molars and without any inward pressure.

THIRDLY it is also easy to see how traditional tight flash nosebands and lunge cavessons put pressure on the main motor and sensory nerves, that exit to the outside of the skull at a point just underneath the normal position of the cavesson noseband. Apart from the discomfort this causes the horse it can also numb the nose and lips, and is often the reason horses rub their heads on a foreleg after work. Continual pressure in his area can also damage blood vessels and other tissue, leading to the creation of enlargements due to fibrous tissue.... This is why the positioning and fitting of the Micklem Multibridle completely avoids the exit point of the facial nerves and any inward pressure in this area.

FOURTHLY, when looking at the skull it is easy to see how delicate and fragile the bones are at the end of the nose, which should never be subjected to the pressure of low fitting nosebands .... This is why we have the front nose piece sitting on the nose higher than a normal dropped noseband

FIFTHLY and most importantly, when looking where the tongue and bit have to fit, at the narrow lower jaw…. and the bars of the mouth which are shaped like a knife, it is obvious why so many horses understandably object to strong pressure on the tongue and bars.... This is why we have both a tongue protection system, that takes any extra pressure on the nose, and bitless bridle options that are truly effective and wonderfully comfortable.

The photograph attached shows the skull, the different width of the jaws, the exit point of the nerves and the delicate nose bones. It also shows how the basic Micklem bridle fits. Next time I will explain about the different applications.


The bottom line is that God did not make a horse to be ridden...they just happen to be suitable for this purpose...and God did not design their head with bridles and nosebands in mind. Therefore for me it is a no brainer - instead of just accepting the limitations of modern bridle wear we have to seek new solutions and be brave enough to be different. Let's not just follow the fashion of the day. The results will reward your bravery. Happy Days. William

William Micklem

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Comment by William Micklem on April 4, 2009 at 6:53pm
It depends on what type of noseband and how tight a noseband you use Barbara....if you use a Micklem bridle you just need a light rub on the outside edge of the top jaw molars once or possibly twice a year. With a tight cavesson more intensive floating is required...either way I would strongly advise that as little as posssible is done with the floating. Horses will vary quite considerably in their needs so make sure each horse is individually assessed before floating.
Comment by Barbara F. on April 4, 2009 at 6:28pm
So I'm not sure what to do about my horse's teeth now. Float them less often? More selectively?
Comment by William Micklem on April 4, 2009 at 3:05pm
Barbara...the horse's teeth are not like our human sensitive version. Instead they are just like a lead pencil....the teeth gradually wear down as they eat food and push through from underneath until there is nothing left eventually with a very old horse. This is how it is possible to age horses looking at the teeth, as the shape and internal hollows change as the teeth wear down. If you over float the teeth you are wearing out this lead pencil and reducing the life span of a horse.

I used to look after Jook Hall's famous Lipizzaner stallion, Conversano Caprice, who won the Hamburg Dressage Derby 3 times. He had no molars and survived by sucking up liquid grass nuts. In nature of course he would not have survived. William
Comment by Victoria Boyd on April 4, 2009 at 9:46am
Very interesting read. I ride one of my horses bitless, but you've given me food for thought on the cavesson. I don't know about this though" "With the power of Charles Darwin's expertise on natural selection and using selective breeding it must be possible to do all of the above in the next million years." If the halter horse is any example, the change can probably come about much faster than a million years. ;)
Comment by Barbara F. on April 4, 2009 at 8:30am
Hi William, could you please explain a bit more about the teeth? At our barn, we have our horses' teeth floated regularly and I hadn't thought that it might be causing problems. Thanks!

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