The Miklem Multibridle is an intriguing multipurpose bridle/halter/lunge caveson that can be used in both bitless and bitted configurations.
I ride one of my horses bitless and I bought the Micklem bridle to address a problem that I’ve had when using my LG bridle — the cheek pieces of the bridle creep toward my horse’s eyes and they also create rub marks. I also liked the fact that you could use it with a bit and wanted to have something in my tack room with this kind of versatility.
I ordered the bridle from Dover Saddlery. I paid $199 which is comparable to the padded leather Dr. Cook’s bitless bridle, which sells for $209. It arrived in a bag full of parts . . . and no directions. You’d think that putting together a bridle would be a no-brainer, but it isn’t. There are lots of extra pieces that require some thinking about. The quality of the leather is very nice and the stitching is even and straight. Overall the bridle is comparable in quality traditional bridles at a similar price point.
I’ve been riding in the Micklem Multibridle now for several weeks. I have two test subjects: Kronefurst, a 17 year old Trakehner gelding and Freedom, a 10 year old Thoroughbred.
The first configuration that I tried, the side pull, was a piece of cake to assemble as it used none of the extra pieces. The major difference between this and a regular bridle is the shape of the caveson, which is shaped so that it lies under the cheek bones. The nose band is placed higher than in a traditional bridle. According to the Website, the nose piece should rest six fingers above the nostrils, which protects the fragile ends of the nose bones. The jowl strap is fitted snug and serves to hold the bridle in place. The bottom strap is fitted like a drop nose band, flush to the skin but not tight. The reins are fitted directly to the side rings.
The bridle works through nose pressure. Side pull bridles allow for very clear turning signals; if you pull on your left rein, your horse goes left. There is no curb strap, as in a hackamore, and no poll pressure.
My Trakehner, Kronefurst, goes pretty well in this configuration. He is a horse that was never comfortable in a bit (believe me, I tried many!) and was reluctant to take contact. In this mild side pull bridle, he relaxes, lengthens downward, and accepts contact. He really swings through his back. In this bridle, my horse can be a tad heavy but I find that preferable to curling up behind the bit. After riding in it a few times, I find that it makes me ride consistently off my outside rein and that I ride more off of my seat and legs. I did all of my normal flat schooling (leg yields, shoulder in, lengthening and collection). I jumped him over a few smaller fences (approximately 2′) but I didn’t feel that he was listening enough to my aids and didn’t continue. I have hacked him out in this and had no problems. The bridle fit him very well and I had no problems with rubbing, or with impingement to his eye.
The side pull configuration does not yet work as well on my Thoroughbred gelding. Freedom tends to ignore the bridle and pull through it. I am continuing to work with him as we have gotten some nice moments and because I like to give him a break from the bit. When he does relax and accept the bridle, his body is soft and relaxed.
The Micklem bridle in this configuration is similar to an English jumping hackamore, or to the LG Bridle in it’s mildest setting. The advantage that it brings is that it just fits better. It’s a nice design and it really does seem to follow the shape of the horse’s head in a much better way. Of course, it comes at a price. If you only want a side pull bridle, you can pick up a jumping hackamore for about $25 and it works reasonably well. It’s certainly your most cost effective choice.
If you are interested in how the other bitless configurations worked for my horse, you can read the next installment.