During the riding season we always trim the bridle paths of our horses. We do it for 2 reasons. Mainly, it makes a clear “path” for the bridle, making it easier to get the bridle on/off so the hair doesn’t get tangled in the straps. The second reason is that we think a neatly trimmed bridle path makes for a cleaner look on the horse's head. It really doesn’t matter how far back you trim, but there is a standard for certain breeds of horses for showing purposes.
The bridle path of stock-type horses, which include Quarterhorses, Paints and Appaloosas, is trimmed back just as far as the length of the ear.
Saddlebreds, if their manes are not cut off completely (which is known as roaching) are also trimmed to just the length of their ear. All other pleasure-type horses, such as Arabians and Morgans, get their bridle paths trimmed back much further to show off the crest of their neck.
When clipping the bridle path I use an Oster A5 clipper with a #40 blade so as to get as close to the skin as possible, making for a very clean look. When starting out, carefully bend the ear backwards to measure your starting point.
Begin clipping from your farthest point backward and clip foward. We clip all the way up to between the ears but not any further so as to leave all of the forelock unclipped.
You'll want a bucket or stepstool to be able to get the proper angle - be careful of trimming from one side only! Your finished product will look much cleaner and tidier.
Since Joon and Tío are ridden all winter at the barn, we trim their bridle paths year-round. It’s a little more of a challenge to make it look neat with their winter coats! If we really feel like being fancy, we'll change the clipper blades to "fade in" their fuzzy hair to blend with their newly-trimmed bridle paths.