Used my Micklem Bridle for the first time today

Here is my 2nd Blog and continues where my happy mouth blog left off.  My Micklem bridle arrived today.  I had 1 1/2 hours from the time I got home to open the box, put it together, size it on my gelding and then trailer off for my Jumper lesson.  I read about other people having trouble putting the bridle together so I read up on how to and was ready.  At first the Bit straps threw me off so I popped the CD that comes with the bridle in to the pc and did a quick review.  Once I heard that you put the bit straps on to the bit first, a light came on in my head and I had it figured out.

Before I put the bit in, I wanted to see if it did fit my horse's head since I was worried I got a size too small.  At first I thought it was too small at the bit strap part.  But once I did put the bit in and tried it on my horse, the bit was dangling in his mouth so I had to actually tighten up the bit straps.  Bridle fits perfectly.  I generally use a horse size bridle on my guy but I got confused when I ordered the Micklem and picked the Small horse ( which is similar to cob size I later found out).  I am glad I got confused since I think the standard horse would have been a bit too big.

I used my happy mouth double joint snaffle and I will say that I am pleasantly fascinated by this bridle!  I am not sure if tonights ride was just a fluke or if the Micklem Bridle does make this much of a positive difference.  Generally, My OTTB is not the greatest at Right turns.  He likes to make them a bit wide, a bit of buldging of the left shoulder.  I am very aware to not pull on his face, he is a very light horse. Subtle finger pressure is all he needs!  Thus to bring him around I just try to close my fingers tighter on the reins. IF he is really buldging to the left, I give him more outside leg and open my right hand more.  He then is a bit crooked to the fence, jumps, but then some head flipping after.  But with the Micklem bridle tonight, he right turns were AMAZING. He was so light and responsive. No buldging, he came right around with my body and just the slight my closing of my fingers.  Zero head flipping,  We then did a broken line in the course.  Jumped one fence, had to head to the right to avoid one fence then a tighter turn to the left to the actual jump.  He was right there and straight on to the fence even after the tighter turns.  I ride in a group and after we did the course, several were saying that they wanted the Micklem Bridle!  My instructor and I were both like..HMMMM, that was very interesting! Could this bridle really make that much of a difference? 

I will keep riding with this bridle and my happy mouth bit. I do have an upcoming show so I am really interested in riding with it at the show.  So far, I am impressed!


Happy riding

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Comment by CanterHaven on July 28, 2011 at 3:22pm
Yes to replacing the happy mouths!  I go through 1 about every 3 months. When I first started using them, he really would chew on them but now, not so much.  It is a great bit but I can see why some people do not buy them due to the frequent replacement.  Last night, since I was not totally sure of the Micklem bridle, I kept his Nunn Finer bridle in tact and took it with me to the arena. I just put a brand new happy mouth in that one.  I still had the other happy mouth so I put that one in the Micklem.  I figured if I had to switch back to standard bridle during the lesson, did not want to fuss around with bits.  The older happy mouth just had one little chew spot that had no burrs. But still time to replace!  I will now take the newest happy out of the Nunn finer bridle and put in the Micklem for our next ride.  May even be better since it will have a new happy mouth snaffle!
Comment by Jackie Cochran on July 28, 2011 at 2:33pm

Hey CanterHaven you are like me!  I'm the one who tries out some of the new stuff.

If you get the bitless attachments you should be able to use them all (bit clips, cross-under strap, and the 2nd option (sort of a scawbrig) on your competition bridle.  All you have to do to try the side pull is take off the bit (and bit straps) and attach the reins to the Dees on the side of the noseband.  Just make sure that the chin and jowl straps are sort of snug.  I noticed that the Micklem people only recommend using the side-pull option in the ring on a decently trained horse.  I agree.

The one horse I tried the bitless options with worked better with the dedicated bitless bridles (cross-under, scawbrig, and side-pull.)  This was with a picky, sensitive, ancient Arab mare who LOVES the Micklem using a bit.  Neither mare I ride particularly liked the bit clips--but both are sensitive and picky animals, other horses might like the bit clips and bitless options just fine, I don't know.  Just "listen" to your horse, I find that horses quickly tell me what they think of tack if I just "listen" to them.  Of course the Micklem is wonderful to experiment with to find out which option your horse might prefer.

With a bit I just use the Micklem now, except for the 18.2 hand giant I sometimes ride.  Someday I will be able to afford one more bridle and then he should be happy too.

I don't think your ride was a fluke.  But I do have a warning.  When we listen to our horses and fix the piece of tack that is irritating them, then often the horse will switch its attention to the next irritation.  Sort of a "good, you fixed this problem, what about fixing this other problem too?"  But, at least, while you fix problem number two, three, four, etc., you will have the comfort of knowing that your problem is not your horse's bridle!  Just make sure your Happy Mouth bit doesn't get sharp projections from your horse chewing on it.  It sounds like you have a winning combination here.   

Comment by CanterHaven on July 28, 2011 at 1:46pm

I have the reputation with my barn of being the one who tries out all the 'new' tack and provides the feedback!

I bought the Competition Micklem and it does not come with the bitless attachment.  I went back and forth as to whether to get the standard Micklem or the competition. The reviews I read from other forums stated that the competition did look better for showing and since I do a lot of that, went with the Competition model.  I do think I read somewhere, cannot remember where, that someone who had the competition version did buy the bitless piece and was able to get it to work. I will have to research!  I do like my horse to be familiar with hackamores and bitless.  Example: Last year, the day before Medal Finals show, he got bit by some bug. We are assuming stung by a bee on his upper lip.  While waiting for the vet to come out at 8 pm the night before the show, I was thinking that I may have to ride in my jumping hackamore if the vet felt a bit would bother the swollen part.  Although, it was a hunter class so I would have to get permission and present my vet note.  Luckily, after much icing of the lip, swelling went down. It never bothered him but big swollen lip was a bit obvious!

Comment by Marlene Thoms on July 28, 2011 at 11:05am
Thanks for this little review  CanterHaven. Perhaps in the interest of science and because you seem to be the adventurous sort, you might try the bitless configuration and let us know what you think? I would suggest with any bitless experiment that you proceed a little more cautiously with a bit of a training period. My guy transferred pretty quickly to the crossunder, but I'd also like to try a sidepull with him and see if it's any different. I am always eager to get first hand info on how particular bridle arrangements (especially bitless) work for someone and their horse, and I'm thinking of trying the Mickelm on my Arab.
Comment by Jackie Cochran on July 28, 2011 at 9:27am
Now you will have the problem of what to do with your old bridle, keep it for an emergency?

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