As you shop in a tack store, or are on-line browsing the many styles of headstalls available, have you ever wondered what the purpose of a slide ear headstall is? Ever wondered why you would want to choose a slide ear headstall versus a browband style headstall? Is it all about fashion or is it all about function? Is it both?
We will look at both types of headstalls. The first consideration is the type of bit you will be using with your headstall. Each type of bit has a different action and different effect on the headstall.
When a snaffle bit is used and both reins are in use, the headstall will slightly loosen, which is noticeable when looking at the cheek pieces on the headstall. As the headstall loosens in use, it may then be possible for the headstall to pull off over the horse’s head. Thus, it is common to see a throat latch in use with a browband style headstall. The throat latch will help to keep the headstall from pulling off over the horse’s head.
When a leverage bit, with or without a shank, is in use and the reins are engaged, it will put a slight downward pressure on the crown of the headstall. The slight downward pressure exerted reduces the chances that the headstall will slip off over the horse’s ears. In the show ring, slide ear headstalls are often seen in use with leverage bits. It is common to see that there is no throat latch in use.
Many beautiful and varied styles of headstalls are available. As can be seen, it is both personal preference, fashion and function that will determine what style is best for each rider to choose.