Does my horse need a bridle path?
I tend to think of bridle paths being an “as needed” situation. Depending on the natural state of your horse’s mane, if you show, if you even use a bridle. But most importantly, if a bridle path is what you need to do to make your horse comfortable, then do it. It's that simple - can you make your horse even more comfortable in his tack with a bridle path? Or, he might have the wackiest mane ever and he simply does not seem to care. But I still do! Your choice.
Miggy's bridle lays even and flat over his poll. No pressure points, no gaps.
I’m a firm believer that the bridle’s crown piece that goes behind your horse’s ears should lay flat. Otherwise, you have a bump where the bridle sits on top of the wide or thick mane. While I can’t say with 100% certainty, I imagine that this is a lot like wearing a baseball hat with a tiny ball or pen in between the hat and your head. Uneven on your noggin, and creating a pressure point.
Some horses have a mane that is over one inch wide and thick with hair! Creating a bridle path here allows the bridle’s crown piece to be flat against your horse. For the horse with thin wispy hair, it’s probably not such a huge deal and you might skip the bridle path. Creating a bridle path also prevents the bridle from tugging against his mane and potentially get tangled.
And then you have the horse with the mohawk - which is likely going to be on a case by case basis. If the mohawk is thin, you might be able to skip the bridle path. If it’s thick, I would get to work creating a comfortable place for the bridle to rest!
It’s easy to create a bridle path. For most disciplines, the bridle path on a horse is just slightly wider than your bridle. For other disciplines, such as some of the saddlebred classes, the bridle path actually extends down the neck several inches.
This horse's natural mohawk interferes wtih proper bridle fit, until the path is cleared.
You can use scissors (the safety variety of scissors to avoid unnecessary stabbings of horse and human please.) You can also use clippers. For either method, notice where the bridle and/or halter sits on your horse’s head. Be sure to have it fastened up as you would to ride or handle your horse. The bridle will change fit as the pieces are connected and tightened. Then move the leather out of the way and clip, or note the distance, undo the tack, and then clip.
If your horse is not used to clippers, the bridle path is not the location to get him used to the sound and vibration. Use sensible desensitization techniques and positive reinforcement to introduce the clippers on other parts of his body. If he’s great with clippers, then a quick swipe to two and you are done.
Trim as necessary!