August 18, 2008
A Bridle That Fits
Finding a bridle to fit your donkey can be a challenge sometimes.
Donkeys tend to have larger heads than horses of the same height. If you go to your local tack store and buy a regular horse sized bridle, you will find that it is nowhere near big enough for your mammoth donkey at home.
So how do you find a bridle that fits? Here are a couple things to look for.
First, measure your donkey's head before you go shopping, and take a flexible tape measure with you to the store to measure their bridles.
Measure from where the top of the bit ring would sit (above the corner of your donkey's mouth), up across the top of his head (behind his ears), and down to where the top of the other bit ring would sit (above the corner of his mouth on the other side). Compare this measurement with the size of the bridle - length of the cheek straps and crown piece (over the top of the head).
Next measure your donkey's throatlatch. Start at the top of his head, behind his ears (where the bridle would sit), measure down under his throat and back up to the same point above his head. Add a few extra inches. Compare this with the size of the throatlatch strap on the bridles. This is one of the two places where I find most bridles are too small. So make sure that this one is big enough.
The third measurement to get is the brow band size. Measure from behind and slightly below your donkey's ear, around across the front of his forehead, and back to behind and slightly below the other ear. Compare this measurement with the size of the bridle's brow band. This is the second place that I find most bridles are way too small. You want the brow band to be big enough so that the bridle sits comfortably behind your donkey's ears, and not pulled up so tight that it is rubbing on the backs of his ears all the time!
This bridle is a little bit small in the brow band. You can see how it is pulling the bridle up against the back of the donkey's ears.
This bridle has much better space for the ears.
If you are buying a bridle with a noseband on it, you will also want to measure that for the correct size, as donkeys tend to have a thicker muzzle as well.
Once you have a bridle that you think measures big enough to fit, take it home and try it on your donkey before you take the tags off!
I have found that for most mammoth donkeys, I need to get the very largest horse size bridles, or better yet a draft size bridle, to fit their heads.
It is also handy to get a leather hole punch. These are not very expensive, and can be purchased at most tack stores. With this tool, you can add additional holes where needed. For instance, if the draft bridle has the right size brow band and throatlatch, but the cheek straps are too long, simply add some more holes so you can buckle the cheek straps up shorter.
Another option is to have your bridles custom made, though this may be a bit more expensive.
On a side note, most of my donkeys don't mind me gently folding their ears forward to slide them into the bridle. But if your donkey doesn't like this, you might consider the Be-Kind-To-Ears bridles. They have an extra clip so that you can easily unsnap the crownpiece when putting the bridle on and taking it off.
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