Freedom Bridle Trial by Victoria Hammond BAEDT
Before I start talking about my trial of the Stübben Freedom Bridle, I perhaps ought to introduce myself and the issues I have encountered with my horse Luey to prompt Kirstie at Forelock and Load to ask me to test the bridle. I am a fully BEVA qualified Equine Dental Technician and member of the BAEDT, I have been practicing dentistry for over 11 years and during that time I have spent 18 months as the lecturer for the Equine Dental Science degree at Hartpury College. I have a keen interest in performance hindering head and dental disorders.
Now moving on to my four legged friend Luey......bless him, he has just about every pathological head issues a horse can have! He had a previous bitting injury when I bought him and needed to have surgery, he's had a sinus operation and surgery to his eye, all in the space of 15 months! Understandably this has left me with a willing but very head/pressure sensitive horse
The design of the Freedom bridle is such to avoid the vital pressure points of horse’s head where the trigeminal facial nerves exit the interior of the skull through little holes called 'foreman' and then branch throughout the exterior, predominantly around the poll region and just below the facial crest.......right where the noseband sits! The Freedom Bridle presents itself with Stübben’s usual finest quality leather, the headpiece and noseband are exceptionally well padded and its design, whilst maybe unique, is pretty spot on when it comes to spreading the pressure in all the right places.
I found it easy to fit and it seemed to fit Luey like it was made for him! My attention was immediately drawn to the headpiece and how the design transfers any pressure over a wide area of the atlas instead of the sensitive poll area, in fact you can see there is a good couple of centimetres air space between the poll and the head strap. The padded areas either side of the Atlas aren't tight either, the bridle seems to fit on him like a well fitted leather head collar that he's had for years!
Luey has a habit of being unsettled in his head and contact, he hates unnecessary pressure and in the past has been known to chuck his head so violently. I have on occasion almost lost my teeth! For this reason, whilst he was having these issues, I have previously opted for the "less is more" approach and rode him in a loose fitting padded bridle and even took away the noseband for a while.
I have to say, over the two week trial period, Luey was extremely settled in the contact, his attention was on me in both a schooling and competition environment and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone. I have seen my fair share of horses with performance restricting dental disorders and trigeminal nerve pain and believe it to be extremely frustrating for owners who cannot unlock their horse’s talent because of these issues. I have seen the designs of many of the competition bridles and believe Stübben’s design to be among the best and having tried it myself on a very sensitive horse, I would not hesitate to buy one myself. A great piece of kit!