The goal of this project is to develop a competition sport acceptance mark for bridles and bits for the Dutch equestrian federation, KNHS.

The Dutch federation gets many questions regarding the allowance of new bridles and bits in competitions. They subjectively answer these requests because there is currently no transparent and objective process for this. Our task for this project is to develop an assessment framework for bridles and bits to evaluate the appropriateness for use in competitions.

Our first step is to determine the essential factors for evaluation. This is done in consultation with discipline specialists from the KNHS. Horse welfare, movement, and performance are all examples of potential essential factors. Through desk-research, we will try to explain the effect of the bridle and bit on these factors. Due to innovation and the existence of the bridle and bit for over a thousand years, there are many, many different models. Therefore, we will take our research back to the basics, and start by considering the actual function of the bridle and bit and its various components.

Besides this, we will investigate the different ways that we can measure and test the effect of a bridle and bit on the aforementioned essential factors. For example, we will consider how to measure pressure points with equipment such as pressure mats and the possibilities to measure stress caused by the bit or bridle. On top of this we can make a movement analysis to observe the influence on performance, and lastly we must also carefully regard the types of material that producers should be allowed to use. The difficulty with measurements, is that there has been so little research into this, that we don’t know what the values that we measure actually mean. In this project we will dive deeper into this research to establish what we can already do right now, and which parts will need more ongoing research over the next years. By doing so we are one step closer to developing an objective process to determine the allowance of bridles and bits at KNHS competitions.