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Rein and bridle hardware: Here’s what you need to know

There’s no question we provide a wide variety of bit end options when you’re ordering a bridle or set of reins. Once in a while, we’ll get questions about the styles of hardware we offer on the bit ends of our bridle headstalls or the bit ends of our reins.

The photos below give a good demonstration of your options. All our tack comes standard with stainless steel hardware, which is guaranteed not to rust, although you can request brass hardware.

bit ends of headstall (1).jpg

Many people are familiar with the scissor snaps and quick change snaps, both of which makes for easy on and off if you have to switch equipment frequently. Roller buckles have a rolling piece around the bottom that keeps the strap moving through the buckle as you fasten and unfasten.

Conway buckles are designed to be easy to work with, too, although people may be less familiar with them. To adjust, pull the strap to the desired spot through both sides of the buckle and tighten to drop the hole onto the prong. Pull both ends to tighten, or push them together to loosen. See a video here.

Chicago screws and leather ties are popular with our Western riders and provide a solid, reliable attachment. They can be easily turned with a screwdriver into the slot. Just make sure you tighten them every now and then for safety, and never glue them!

Leather ties provide a traditional look for Western riders, as well as being an extra safety feature. Also called water loops, the ties are attached to one side of each rein and are looped through the ring of the bit and tied back to the rein. Besides their aesthetic value, the ties also provide a breakaway option if a horse steps on the rein, so the tie will snap instead of doing damage to the rein. Quarter Horse News has a great article with instructions on the different type of knots you can use to tie these.

Great Idea! Easy Hardware Replacement

Anyone who has horses realizes that they’re mischievous creatures, seemingly bound and determined to destroy tack, blankets, stall guards, wraps, bell boots, and sometimes even themselves. Although Two Horse Tack’s beta biothane halters, bridles, and breastcollars are super-durable, horses do occasionally manage to snap or exhaust hardware on our pieces.

For just this reason, we wanted to make sure it was easy for customers who chose snap ends for their reins to replace those snaps if they should break. That’s why we thread our snaps through the reins and buckle the reins together, rather than threading them through and stitching them down. We can replace hardware in tack which is stitched down (email us if you need a repair!) but it takes longer and can be slightly more expensive than replacing the snap yourself.


As shown here, you simply need to undo Conway buckles (if you’re not familiar with Conway buckles, see this tutorial here), thread on the new hardware, and rebuckle. Simple, right? Now finding that lost bell boot/blanket strap/fly mask is a whole other venture…

Conway buckles–your new best friend!

In the course of dealing with customers who ride in lots of different disciplines, we’ve found that some of them are huge fans of Conway buckles, while others may never have seen them before.

It’s a little tricky to explain how they come together, so we put together this little video to show you how easy and secure they are to use:

Easy on, easy off–Conway buckles on bridles

We posted earlier in the week about the different options available to customers when choosing the hardware material for their order on Two Horse Tack. Today, we’ll take a look at the various attachment options for the bit ends of our reins.

For most conventional English bridles, the type of snap or attachment you use may not matter much to you, but folks purchasing one of our halter bridles are likely to be switching styles back and forth regularly, and may even be switching bits.

One of our most popular options is the Conway buckle, which looks like a conventional buckle that’s been slightly bent. The tension of the leather or beta biothane strap sitting in the curved frame is what keeps the prong in place through the desired hole. We use this as the standard for the bit ends of the cheekpieces on all our bridles and offer it as an option for reins, too.

conway buckle

Conway Buckle

Even if you’re buying a standard bridle, there is an important safety consideration with bit end hardware: at Two Horse Tack, we thread our beta or leather through our Conway buckles rather than sewing them in. We do this so that in the unlikely event of an accident where the horse spooks or trips, etc., the buckle will break before the beta. That means that all you need to do to repair the bridle is thread a new buckle through rather than find a repair shop to redo stitching. We’ve never had a problem with Conway buckles opening or slipping when they’re put in this way, and in fact we think of it as an important safety feature.

The roller buckle is a good option for people who move their reins from one bridle to another frequently. This conventional buckle includes a roller piece around the frame that helps the buckle move up and down the strap more easily and prevents sticking.

Snaps are also a good option for those changing equipment frequently–these are available in stainless steel or brass to match your hardware choice for the bridle itself.

For Western riders, we offer additional bit end options that better fit your needs in the show ring. Leather ties offer a traditional look, but we also offer Chicago screws. These are adjustable with a flathead screwdriver for security combined with tradition.

chicago screws

Chicago screws

In short, no mater what you’re looking for–style, tradition, or functionality–we’ve got you covered. Get started on your custom bridle today!