Clea Phillipps has been seen riding Lead The Way, the winner of Blair CCI*** in 2006, in a “combination bridle”. We find out why this suits him

What is the combination bridle?

DESPITE the name, it’s not a full bridle, but a complex bit with a plastic-covered noseband attached. It comes in a variety of mouthpieces, with short, medium or long shanks. It can also be used with a curb chain or a leather guard.

Lead The Way’s “brakes” include the long shank version of the bit, with two reins and a drop noseband.

Clea covers the noseband with sheepskin, and explains: “The sheepskin noseband suits Lead The Way’s head, and it also makes the plastic nosepiece softer against his skin.”

Does he always go in this bit?

NO. Clea, like many eventers, changes the bit for the show jumping.

“Across country, I ride Lead The Way in an American gag because he can be quite strong. But for show jumping, the gag is too severe — the combination bridle is milder.”

Clea decided to try the combination bridle as it had been used previously on Coral Cove.

“The combination bridle that first Polly Phillipps and then my husband, Vere, used to great effect with Coral Cove has proved the ideal solution for Lead The Way,” she says. “You can ride on the snaffle rein all the time if you want and bring in the bottom rein with the stronger leverage action when you need it.”

Which horses does it suit?

“I’ve used it on a number of horses, including Feast Of Florios, who had a rather high head carriage,” says Clea. “It immediately came to mind when I decided I needed more control on Lead The Way for the show jumping phase.

“It suits a horse who puts his head up, as it has a hackamore-style action. It’s probably not as effective on a horse who drops his head as a form of evasion.”

Where can I buy one?

THE combination bridle is available from Townfields Saddlery, in a variety of mouthpieces from a straightforward snaffle through to a Waterford or cherry roller.

Tel: 02476 402474 www.townfields.com

This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (4 January, ’07)