So I wrote one. You're welcome.
Here's a look at the facial types I've dressed and what looks work best for them.
Facial type: bold lines and features. Simple markings. Straight profile.
Dressing difficulty: easy
Izzy was well bred and a nice mover, but clinicians always called her a "handsome" mare and she was frequently mistaken for a gelding. Her face, while expressive, was plain. That allowed me to dress it up just as much as I wanted.
Here she's rocking the Nunn Finer event bridle. I chose brass highlights because I knew she could handle the extra pizzazz without being overwhelmed. It worked ok for her. There was nothing wrong with the look and it was always clean and workmanlike. That said, her face could handle something more.
She had just enough white to set it off without so much that I was worried that the details would get swallowed up.
This was absolutely Izzy's signature bridle. It's another Five Star Tack model that has unfortunately been discontinued. It's the Magnolia bridle. She's actually wearing it in oversize because that's the only one I could find.
It's hard to see the details in this shot, but it had a 1.5" noseband with a detailed browband and white contrast stitching. I loved all the details, right down to the buckles, and it looked fabulous with the simple lines of her face. The width in the noseband helped refine her otherwise common lines and the details added visual interest. If I still had Izzy, I would still have this bridle, no question.
|OH MY GOD NO|
Facial type: complicated lines, small muzzle, very refined, lots of detail, slightly dished face
Dressing difficulty: HARD
Cuna was immensely difficult to buy tack for, which just meant that I bought a lot of it. I tried the bridle on him that was perfect for Izzy, and we were all horrified and amused. The details that made it pop on her completely overwhelmed his face and looked atrocious.
In trying to get away from the overdone look of the Five Star bridle, I screwed up and got everything wrong. Cuna needed something simple, but this was too refined for a 16.3 hand gelding. He can't do complicated, but he is too big for this to work and the unique edgewood leather pulls all the wrong colors out for a red horse.
He looks sick.
Between his adorable fluffy forelock and bright red color, the brass was just too much.
We compromised on this one. The bridle wasn't "bad", it just wasn't best for him. I pulled the brass browband off and we made do.
Ok, I actually quite like this bridle on him and still have it, but the truth is that his conformation and movement style are NOTHING like a hunter, so while nice, it was a bit superfluous. Still. We were on the right track. His face is busy, so I needed something simple and elegant without being too refined.
What I really liked about this bridle was that it balanced the 1.25" plain raised cavesson with very refined cheeks and simple buckles. It really set Cuna's face off very nicely.
While it worked for his face, it never quite satiated my need for "pretty". It was workmanlike and effective and slightly prettier than the Nunn Finer. It did the job.
If I'd spent more time playing around with it, I think I would probably have removed the flash just because Cuna doesn't like it or need it.
The buckles are technically brass, but they're a matte finish that is quite innocuous. Can I just say I love this bridle?
Of course, as soon as I got Cuna's bridle selection hammered out, he went and retired and I got to start over with facial type #3.
Facial Type: Long, narrow face. Lots of space to fill between jowl and mouth. Flashy white. Plain lines.
Dressage Difficulty: Medium
Courage is funny to dress. His big blaze should dictate simple lines because it takes up so much visual attention, but the lines of his face are rather uninteresting.
I started him out in the go-to Nunn Finer bridle. We put a figure eight on it because after 6 years of race training, there was a lot for him to learn about what was and was not acceptable. Unfortunately, despite being 16.1 and 8 years old, he has a tiny little face and the horse-sized piece just hung uselessly on him.
This worked pretty well, aesthetically. The refined cheeks didn't overwhelm his narrow head and the cavesson/flash filled up space pretty well. That said, it was a horse size bridle and he was on the last hole of pretty much everything.
It wasn't going to be our long term solution.
Regardless. Because of his facial structure, the micklem actually worked surprisingly well. It's very busy between the jowl and the chin and that is PERFECT for Courage who has a lot of space there without a lot going on. I've used both the bedazzled browband and plain, and they both work with his face.
This bridle is actually cob sized and fits him quite well. That said, it's unconventional looking and no horse of mine can have just one bridle, can they? The horror!
I have to say, I'm glad I didn't buy it. Although it fit well, the bridle was all kinds of wrong for this face. It just emphasized how narrow his head was without showing off his character well at all.
I tried it on twice and the results were the same. Although he is a super cute horse, this bridle isn't aesthetically the best choice for him.
The figure eight fills up space nicely and the contrast stitching on the plain raised section is just enough detail without trying to overrun his big blaze.
I will say that I also stuck a d ring bit on it because I knew it would look cute. That's not a concern for under saddle work, but I was dressing him for a photo shoot and cute was at a premium.
And that's not even all the bridles I've ever owned. Please, no one go through and total up the cost for that list for me, haha. Not every bridle works for every horse. This post is just about the aesthetics of the bridles I used. I'm planning another one on function and quality, because hey, I love bridles, and Courage is on Christmas vacation at least until all this nasty ice melts.
Anyone have a picture of a bridle on their horse that is just stunning? Maybe one that is less than stunning? Email it to me. (firstname.lastname@example.org). I want to do a set with reader photos too. Please include the bridle make/model (if know) and any relevant details about the horse. Headshots are easiest to look at bridles.