Thursday, September 10, 2015

Welcome to Nirvana: Dressage Bridle Shopping

jump bridle, dressage saddle = no
So here's the thing: I told myself that dressage was the CHEAP route to go competitively, because I already have a saddle, a white pad, a bridle, a sparkle browband, and a bit. Right? We can just go compete from now til third level and not change a thing.

I mean, Courage is the fussiest-mouthed horse ever, so if he goes higher than third, odds are he won't even need that double we're allowed.


I hadn't bought a bridle in 8 months (EIGHT MONTHS) guys, so obviously I was going to shop a little. I've pretty much had everything but the highest-end French stuff and let's be real: I am not dropping that kind of money for something I probably won't keep.

funny with his mouth. yes.
So that left the problem of what to shop FOR. Black leather, obviously, but it's really not my favorite. I do love brown dressage tack, but not so much on a bay with minimal white.

Then it hit me--Courage is funky with his mouth. Always has been. I've ridden him in all sorts of things, but for the past few months have just gone the loose cavesson route to see what would happen. Last year, Courage would either brace his mouth open or clamp it shut with no in between. All our dressage work has him interacting with the bit by chewing on it, but his chewing is eh... more extravagant than is usually desired.

do love this look
Hmmmm. I''d be really curious to try him in a flash for two reasons: 1) he MUST have bit stability (loose rings make him loose his marbles) and a flash supports the bit, keeping it more still and 2) it is conceivably possible that by limiting his range of mouth opening, he could learn to interact with the bit in a more-acceptable way. Or at least a less-offensive-to-dressage-judges way.

Oh and then our dressage clinician wondered if the super wide cavesson on my PS bridle might be hanging too close to the bit rings and pinching him. I seriously doubt it, but there's a simple way to find out (since continued riding in our jump bridle with dressage saddle is sub-optimal).

So obviously I was shopping for a black dressage bridle with a flash. Not too raised or padded, because it would dwarf his tiny face. Not too skinny or flat because I already have a flat bridle. Not too low end, because low end never makes me happy.

Red Barn Capriole Bridle
I found this:

But eh, I don't really NEEEEEED a bridle and it was listed for more than I wanted to pay when the whole entire point of shopping was impulse buying anyways. So I low ball offered, got rejected, and redirected my search elsewhere.

The trouble is that Courage is a really hard horse to shop for. Oh, and I'm mega picky.

I finally ran down a dressage bridle (Horze Venice) that I'd been wanting to play with for a while and got it for a song.

But as soon as I pulled the trigger, I regretted it.

Horze Venice Bridle
I mean, I know Horze bridles are nice for the money, but when the money is peanuts, that's still not very nice.

And. And. And.

And I wanted the Red Barn, dammit.

So I bought it too.

The Horze bridle arrived first, and it was exactly as advertised. Nice for the money. Good to look at. Got several compliments from fellow boarders.

(Which, imo, were completely unwarranted because while it's a perfectly fine-looking bridle, it does not look so good on my horse.)

this is my problem
The only hangup is that the seller of the Red Barn bridle apparently only ships by mule train (or ox cart? Which is slower?) and despite paying and having the bridle shipped on August 28th, as of late-evening September 9th, it has yet to make an appearance.

So there I was, toodling my thumbs and thinking how sad it was that I only had one sparkle browband in black leather for my dressage bridle(s) and while I planned to sell the Horze right off, the PS was staying... but maybe that's a story for another day.


Yeah... anyways. I think I have the bridle dilemma sorted now (aside from the mule train issue). Let's not talk about halfpads either. Or complusive polo wrap buying. Those are clearly other people people's problems and not something I'd be involved in.



  1. Excited to hear how the red barn fits! Have u tried gum bits with him? Gumbits dot com

    1. More expensive than sugar cubes, and Pig didn't like them. Might work, though. Worth a try! There are also bit wraps which might be something to try. Not sure if those are legal at USDF comp.

  2. I'm waiting for my newest bridle splurge - a full out custom bridle from a leather maker in Ireland. I bought my trainer one from her earlier this year, which sparked another client to buy one and I'm hoping it goes on and on. The craftsmanship is fantastic, as is the price. I may have an in with a discount code if anyone is interested :)

    Also, I can certainly help you expand your array of dressage sparkle browbands!

  3. I am trying really hard not to buy a bridle now. My current snaffle bridle is being rubbed to death by the itchy baby horse (and has bite marks on it from a different baby horse) so it looks just awful BUT if I buy a new bridle, he'll just beat that one to hell too. But they're all so pretty... I guess I can just live vicariously through you for now.

    1. I always explain to my horses how the bridle is worth more than they are (well, with one exception) and that rubbing is under no circumstances allowed. Then I watch them like a hawk.

  4. That bridle is very pretty! Since I have moved to the world of western tack I have had a really hard time not buying ALL THE SPARKLY BRIDLES!

  5. The idea of bridle shopping fills me with horror. I keep trying to find ways I can stop having THREE bridles and get down to one. Because it would mean less leather to clean and less stuff in my tackroom.

    You and I have the opposite problem, methinks...

  6. lol i'm too preoccupied with saddle shopping to even consider bridles at this point.... except that maybe if i find my mystical unicorn of a saddle i'll have to get something that matches it?? lol at least bridle shopping sounds a little more fun :)

    1. Saddle shopping is stressful. Bridle shopping is fun!

  7. What about another custom racing caveson but with black leather? Looking forward to seeing how the Red Barn looks on him.

    1. Now that is a good idea. Filing it away for later...

  8. I dislike Red Barn, but only because I have found the leather stretched too much. That said, my drop is red barn. So, if you wanna give that a try, I'd lend it to you... long distance.

  9. Wouldn't be my first long distance loan. ;-) I'll keep it in mind.

  10. I love my Red Barn bridle! Looking forward to pictures of Courage modeling it

  11. Muahahahahaaaaa, I know the rest of the "for another day" story! :-D SPARKLEZ!


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