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File:Kastor Niobid horse head.jpg
Frentera on the bridle of a horse, depicted in the 4th Century BC

A frentera is a part of some halters and bridles, usually on a horse. It is a cord, strap, or chain on the face of the horse that is attached to the crownpiece or browband (see Bridle) that runs down the horse's face to the noseband or bit rings. A frentera can be split at the top to pass on either side of the forelock, or on either side of the ears. In the latter case, the frentera usually substitutes for a browband. A frentera can also be split at the bottom into two or more parts to support and stabilize a heavy noseband or bit.

Frentera on Alexander the Great's horse Bucephalus, depicted in the Alexander Mosaic

The known history of the frentera dates back to the 4th Century BC, and the frentera is in use today in Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America. When it includes a disk or sheet of metal, often silver, it is known in English as a testera (Spanish loanword), chamfron (French loanword), or faceplate.[citation needed] Other variants include forelock hanger (North America), bit lifter (Australia), and cheekers (Australia).

The frentera is not to be confused with a similar appearing piece of tack, the bearing rein.



Split-top frentera on Persian chariot horses, depicted in the Alexander Mosaic
File:Terracotta army 4-horse crop.jpg
Four-horse chariot team of the Terracotta Army

The history of the frentera begins in the 4th century BC, in ancient Greece. A frentera on a bridle is described but not named in the 1893 English translation of Xenophon's On Horsemanship.[1] The accompanying illustration of a bridle with a frentera is based on an image in ancient Greek art.[1] In the Alexander Mosaic, circa 200 BC, both Greek and Persian horses wear frentera, in two different styles. Some horses of the Terracotta Army (China, 210 BC) wear a bridle with a split-top frentera. Stiff, padded and studded testera have been found in Scythian tombs.[2][citation needed]

File:German dragoons crop.jpg
Frentera on horses of the Badisches Dragoner 2nd Regiment circa 1830 (illustrated 1835)
Argentine ceremonial cavalry

More recently, in the 19th Century frentera were used on cavalry horses of several nations, including Germany, and today are used in cavalry ceremonies in Argentina.

Current use

File:Doublebridle overuse.JPG
Frentera on a double bridle, Germany
File:Polo noseband bridle.jpg
Polo noseband bridle

Today, the frentera is almost unknown in English speaking countries but widely used elsewhere in the world. It is used in Spain and Portugal on serreta bridles, in Hungary on similar bridles, and in Argentina and adjacent countries on both halters and bridles.[3]

In Argentina, the frentera is an integral part of both utilitarian halters and parade bridles. The parade bridles often are chapeado, even made entirely of chains of sheet metal (often silver) heavily decorated with repoussé and chasing work. The frentera may be attached to the browband, passed between the ears to the crownpiece, or passed below (outside) the ears to the cheek pieces or fiador. If a halter and bridle are worn together, typically only one of them will have a frentera.

File:Cheekers at Palio.jpg
Orange cheekers on a horse racing in the Palio di Siena

In the English-speaking world, an ornamental frentera is seen only rarely, on some parade horses. Several items of specialty horse tack of a utilitarian nature are related to the frentera. On an Australian polo noseband bridle a frentera-like strap supports a heavy noseband attached to the rings of a snaffle bit. Also in Australia, two items involve a frentera-like forked strap suspended from the browband or crownpiece of the bridle, that help to maintain the position of the bit. These are the bit lifter and its variant cheekers, a rubber bit lifter with an integral pair of bit guards. Both bit lifters and cheekers are approved for thoroughbred racing in Australia.[4] In the United States and Canada, a frentera-like strap, leather thong, or string infrequently is used to support a bosal. It sometimes is tied to the horse's forelock and then may be called a forelock hanger.[5]

See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Art of Horsemanship, Xenophon, edited and translated by Morris H. Morgan, published by Little, Brown and Company, 1893; republished in facsimile by Dover Publications, 2006
  2. Bennett 1998, page 48
  3. online catalog in Argentina showing a bozal (muzzle) style halter with a 3-part frentera and a fiador.
  4. Dion Villella. "Register of Nationally Approved Gear". Racing Victoria Limited. http://www.racingsa.com.au/racing/pdf/GearChangeBooklet.pdf. Retrieved 2008-10-12. 
  5. Bennett, Deb (1998). Conquerors: The Roots of New World Horsemanship (1st ed.). Amigo Publications Inc. ISBN 0-9658533-0-6.  Page 61.


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