The Side Cue

Our amazing sponsors Pampered Ponies are proud to present “The Sparkle Pony Guide To Bitless” volume 1 – The Side Cue! 

This is the simplest and most common of all the bitless bridles, and is also known as a side-pull, or jumping hackamore. Sue from Transcend actually introduced me to the term “side cue”, which was coined because it should be used to give a cue, not pull the horses face, after all!

You can easily improvise a side cue from a headcollar, a lunge cavesson, a noseband (drops, cranks, and grackles often have rings in handy places!), or just your regular bridle with the bit removed and a couple of flash or spur straps. 

The pressure applied is pound for pound, which means that there is no leverage. The weight that you apply to the rein is the weight that your horse feels. It also has an instant release, so as soon as you remove the weight from the reins, the pressure is released. 

This bridle is where I suggest most people start, and where you should be aiming for if you’re in a stronger bridle. You can get some very smart side cue bridles, like the Transcend single rein bridle (which has lovely padding), and the side cues that Buck You stock include rolled and baroque models.

There are rope bridles on the market, but generally speaking, they aren’t something that I would recommend. Rope halters and bridles have a smaller surface area, which means they are “sharper” on the horses face. They also tend to rub and slop around a bit too much for my liking. If you do use a rope halter, use one with minimal knots (big bobbly knots are there to cause aversive pressure) and get yourself some nice floofy sleeves for the nose and poll. 

Fitting a side cue is easy peasy. You fit it as a normal cavesson noseband. It should be two fingers below the cheekbone, and you should comfortably be able to get two fingers between your ponies face and the noseband all the way around. 

Keep an eye out for the next poster in this series, and don’t forget to check out Pampered Ponies for some awesome bargains on new and second-hand pony things! 

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