There are plenty of different configurations available to use. I'll run through a list of those I own and use most commonly and the advantages of each.
|As modeled by Cuna|
This is my go-to, standard, everyday-use, do-everything breastplate. I added clips to the straps by the withers and I'd love to do the same to the girth loop. It adjusts in 3 different places (withers, neck on both sides, strap between the legs) and has fit everything I put it on, from a haflinger pony to giant warmbloods and draft crosses.
It's utilitarian looking, very sturdy, and does the job I want it to do. I've taken it on trails, in the jumping ring, on cross country, and of course, on extensive hacks. The leather broke in beautifully and even though I've had it for several years now, it still polishes up well for the show ring.
My next addition to the hoard was this Five Star Tack signature elastic breastplate. (Just looked at the new price. Yikes!!)
Mine is the older style that don't have a grab strap across the top, so it hasn't gotten a lot of use, given my purpose in having a breastcollar in the first place. Nevertheless, it's nice quality leather and it's an eye catching piece. On Cuna, whose giant withers keep his saddle from ever moving, it's just a decoration, but it does look nice.
The function is identical to the hunting breastplate. A drawback encountered by this style is that if you use this breastplate to actually keep the saddle from sliding back, pressure points will be created right around the horse's withers. Very uncomfortable.
I will say that in general, I'm not wild about elastic on breastplates. Since I have them for those "oh crap" moments like spooking and unexpectedly giant jumps, I don't want them to give. I want them to hold when I need them and hang uselessly otherwise. Plus, I think elastic wears out faster and is much harder to clean than just leather.
|Courage and the jumper breastplate|
I used this breastplate to justify a small shopping spree on facebook. After all, it was only $20.
It's basically this model of breastplate, although the link is definitely to a higher quality item. Known as a jumper breastplate, it attaches to the girth on both sides and has a grab strap that goes over the neck. It's kind of a pain to adjust if you're switching between different sized horses. I just used it on Courage, and after the initial adjustment, it was fine.
What I like about this model is that it's easy for sensitive horses to wear. I have known several princesses (Cuna actually not included) who got very fussy because the girth loop of the hunting style breastplates would pinch their skin and hair. I also used this style when Cuna got a cut inside his foreleg and I was trying to keep from rubbing it.
Properly adjusted, it doesn't seem to restrict shoulder action or have any ill effects.
|As modeled by Gunner|
That said, they are hard to adjust and a PITA to put on every single day. Even me, the tack-loving 'ho who was short on rides this summer thought it was a little bit ridiculous.
If you have a horse that is unduly bothered by a slipping saddle, this piece is a godsend. If you're just trend matching, seriously, find something easier to put on and clean. This isn't worth it.
|Stock image from bitofbritain.com|
They are pretty new on the market in the US, but they've been around in Europe for a while. The few reviews I've heard of them are glowing and positive and I can't wait to get my grabby little hands on one.
So there you go. Breastplates are commonly used to keep saddles in place during athletic attempts and to hang on to during said athletics. There are a variety of styles available to fit all budgets and lifestyles.