Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Budget Bridle Breakdown

As you might have guessed, lil Ms. Zoebird doesn't fit in a single beautiful cob-size thing that Courage left behind. This means shopping. I like shopping.

And of course, shopping means putting all that expensive, time-consuming product research I've done to use. 

And if I'm going to do that, y'all might as well benefit. 

So if you're looking for a solid bridle on a budget (and your horse is a standard size):

...and you can spend up to $200:

I realize that just because I think a ~$200 bridle is "relatively affordable" doesn't mean everyone does. However. This starts to be the range where you don't have to compromise a whole lot. My favorite in this range is Eponia Equestrian. Nice leather that breaks in fast, fantastic, thoughtful details, interesting designs and solid customer service. A recent blogger review from Austen pretty well dials it in. I snagged one of these babies at Rolex and it was GORGEOUS. Super sad that it was never ever gonna fit Ms. ZB. 
why yes that's Teresa's horse rocking brownie now
10/10 would buy again and don't be surprised if another one shows up in my collection. 

...and you want to spend about $100

This is a dicey price range. There are some options on the table but you're definitely going to have to make some pretty serious compromises with either design details or product quality. Or both.  

One entrant in this category the Premiera line by Hypostore. (These are also marketed by a popular instagram retailer for a 200% mark up. Friends don't let friends pay 200% too much.) I picked up one of these last winter. The leather is ok. There are definitely attempts at thoughtful details, but the budget nature of this range just means that it's not... quite... something. Mine just sat funky on Courage's head. It wasn't bad, but I wasn't in love with it. Blogger Karen hasn't written a full review, but she had a double from this line (on my referral, sorry Karen) and the noseband just didn't work for her horse and the browband fell apart. Buyer beware apparently--their customer service was underwhelming when I dealt with them. 

5/10 would use them in a pinch but probably won't go back

...and you want to spend less than $100: 

Once you hit this end of the spectrum, you better know what you're getting in to. Royal Sports is probably the best option here--lots of options, lots of coupon codes, reasonably fast shipping from India. Downsides include leather that smells weird (technical tack ho talk here), iffy-at-best customer service, and kinda wonky sizing. Like. Cob size is TINY and horse size is HUGE and maybe oversize is for elephants? I have no idea. Haven't tried the OS. Alli wrote a review here, and she's the most recent purchaser I'm aware of. It's not my favorite option, but you can get a bridle pretty inexpensively and if you're not too picky, it's probably fine. 
browband unrelated

2/10 unlikely to place another order unless I need something cheap and weird 

Not to worry!! You're not SOL if your horse is full or semi custom, but you will have to take some measurements and try a little harder. There can also be a bit of a premium for buying piece-by-piece. It's definitely more expensive than just buying an assembled bridle. So. 

If you want to spend up to $300 (and you need custom sizing): 

I know it's not super sexy, but a quality standby is the Nunn Finer custom event bridle. You can pick leather and buckle colors and then pick a different size for every different piece. Or at least choose from three different sizes. It's not fancy and modern, but we're talking solid leather that does the job and isn't embarrassing. The look blends seamlessly in the dressage and eventing rings and the bridle will pretty much last you forever. 
ZB not getting a figure eight obv

9/10 have already ordered one for Zoebird


If you want to spend up to $200 (and you need custom sizing):

I've written a very positive review of Uisce Saddlery in the past. Elaine makes a quality product with excellent craftsmanship that is surprisingly affordable. Because these pieces are hand made, you can get all crazy-go-nuts on hyper custom sizing and details. I did contact her this time around and apparently mid-busy-season she's a little slower to respond than if you catch her in the off season (and I have the patience of a gnat, oops). On the whole, my experiences have been positive and I love the little extra zazzle you can get with colored padding if you're bold. 
i love different stuff

8/10 we all know this is going to happen again

Noted: Flexible Fit Equestrian also theoretically lands on this list but I have no personal experience with them and haven't been thrilled with the designs I've seen out there. I'm happy to be proven wrong but haven't had the impetus to spend the money yet. 


If you want to spend about $100 (and you need custom sizing):

A bit of an unexpected entrant in this category is the Equiture line of bridles. I'm not sure where they're sourced from (well I mean Asia obv), but you can order each part individually and get some fun details like patent or white padding. It's more of a dressage look, but with the right pieces you'll be ok regardless. Downsides are of course that you're looking at pretty mass-produced leather that's just... not that pretty. It has that cardboard-y shine that doesn't really come off and it doesn't break in like super nice leather, but it's affordable and it will do in a pinch. 
this qualifies as a pinch

4/10 unlikely to buy again 

Final Thoughts

Ummmm I hesitate to add at this point that I've (obviously) owned models from all of these lines and all of my reviews are based on actually owning/handling them. I also paid full price (or used publicly available sales) and received no compensation for any of my thoughts on these. This is also just a list of budget options and doesn't include bridles from higher-end price ranges that take a little more commitment to acquire.
and none of this includes browbands haha

At this point, I'm playing with an Equiture frankenbridle with a Nunn Finer on the way. What are some other options that would be worth checking out? 

41 comments:

  1. I've been happy with my Eponia bridle so far, and it's super pretty. The Lund bridles are also a solid option in the under $200 range, IMO. Mine are holding up really well.

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    1. With my somewhat funky-sized horse, I really wanted a traditional crown to give me more flexibility. They are surprisingly hard to find right now.

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  2. I've been thrilled with the Sabre leather line. And you can mix and match sizes to your hearts galore. They have a few different options and while their branding on their comfort headpiece isn't my favorite, you can't see it from the ground and it helps to keep you from staring at their poll :D I paid about $200 and got mix-n-match sizes, and two different interchangeable nosebands and that included shipping from the UK.

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    1. Oh interesting! I will look them up.

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    2. They were the answer to my bridle shopping dilemma a couple months ago :)

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  3. the eponia's are super pretty. and i love nunn finer.

    too bad all my horses just want to go in GOD DAMN MICKLEMS ALL DAY. *FLIPS TABLE*

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  4. I'm disappointed to hear that about the Equiture bridles because I totally dig their browbands. And Eponia is definitely on my wish list. But I kind of... own a lot of bridles right now 😂

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    1. I mean. You could do worse for sure. They just don't really turn in to nice leather.

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  5. see. i'm the worst freakin tack ho in the universe. i've basically lived quite happily (if blissfully ignorantly) with all no-name consignment tack until more knowledgeable bloggers took pity on me and supplied me with actually nice bridles. so.... i can take no credit for it lol

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  6. Just curious where Courage went. I know you no longer have him but unless I missed it I didn't see a post about where he is now. Is it possible to update us? Does his new owner have a blog or Instagram so we can keep up with him?

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    1. Courage landed in an absolute dream home with a fantastic person who adores him and takes him on trail rides. Said person chooses not to maintain an online presence and I respect those wishes. I do have an open invitation to go visit him, so he may show up again if I can take pictures of him that do not compromise his owner's privacy.

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    2. Ok thanks!! Glad he's doing well and you have zoe now!

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  7. I think I am going to start shopping for an Eponia double ... LOVED the one you bought!

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    1. And now you have inside info about the sizing!

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  8. We won't talk about how many of those are in my collection now 😂

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  9. I have recently bought a bridle from Solo Equine: https://www.soloequine.com/. I was very impressed with the quality of the leather given the price point.

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  10. I LOVE this! I would also add FSS which you can find on Ebay. they're actually imo a great option in the $100-$200 range and have lots of fun sparkles to chose from. The leather became nice and soft fairly quickly and for the price the quality is really pretty great. Especially if you want a bridle with colored padding, sparkles, or cool funky colors and textures.

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    1. I have never quite pulled the trigger on one of these. Thanks for the review!

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  11. All you really told me was that I need the Eponia bridle. Damn you.

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    1. You really do. Sell the other one?

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    2. Or ho it up and keep both. Not that we know anyone like that

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    3. I mean yeah, hoarding is always an option.

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  12. Ok. So... I pretty much need to grab each of the highly reviewed bridles so I can have a comparison test over the course of 3 years.... right?

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    1. That's the best course of action, yes. Then if you disagree with my assessments, we can throw down on the blog. 😎

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  13. I'm not sure I understand the choice of obscure brands here in these price ranges. I'll take a Plymouth bridle from Smartpak any day over anything made in India out of painted water buffalo hide (fun fact). I was assistant manager at a tack shop in Florida for two years; the $60 Plymouth dressage bridle (I own it) is a far nicer bridle than any of the more expensive stuff we brought in from India for the store's lower-end tack.

    Smith Worthington is a US company that makes LOVELY bridles in a very wide price range. Their $200-$300 bridles are absolutely gorgeous. Case in point: http://www.smithworthington.com/index.php?p=product&id=774 They will make custom items at no extra cost, from saddles to bridles. All you have to do is call. And it's in the US so no dicey shipping. We used to sell a lot of their products at the tack shop.

    KL Selects's Red Barn and KL Italia bridles also come in the $100-$300 ranges, and are made of buttery-soft Italian and English leather that doesn't need to be oiled. It's that soft. They are also fully customizable if your horse has an odd-shaped head: http://www.klselect.com/bridles/

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    1. Fun fact: if you do decide to oil the Red Barn bridle, the glue holding it together will ooze out and it will be a stick mess for the rest of its life.

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  14. I LOVE the Joseph Sterling line from SS Tack. Sedgewick leather, and under $200 including reins. Usually they're on sale for around $135 even. BUT I think you have to order separately for frankensizing.
    I just got a brown patent bridle from that Indian company. It was like $40 with their big sale they just had. I haven't actually used it yet, it's surprisingly gorgeous hanging in my dining room right now.
    I have one of those crazy cheap Da Vinci bridles from Horseloverz. I think it was also like $45. I use it for schooling since I don't care if I never clean it. It's just fine for the job. The stitching is attractive and even, blah blah blah. But the leather is definitely on the stiffer side and just not that nice. Quite nice for the money though.

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    1. Yeah you can definitely justify abusing the cheap stuff more easily but I'm so weird about not wanting straps to break or stitches to fail (seems like bad things would follow) that I'm neurotic about maintenance at any price point.

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    2. Haha, I didn't literally mean never ;) But yeah, you have to check that stuff no matter the price point.

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  15. All the bridles I want are over $500 so I have no advice. Other than how to torture yourself by wanting things you cant afford.

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    1. Hehehe I know these feels. SO FANCY. I figured not many people would put them on a "budget" list tho.

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  16. Emi has a Flexible Fit bridle. It fits fine but the leather is not the best. I'll be replacing mine sooner rather than later.

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    1. That is not an overwhelmingly positive review. I look forward to your next round!

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  17. Gracie (my mare) has a Stubben bridle that's worked well for her - now I have my eye on that Eponia one!

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    1. Stubben bridles seem to get nice eventually and then last 4evar, but I'm not sure I have the patience to get to the nice phase.

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  18. I was recently on the bridle hunt. Having a aqha gelding who was gelded late and from a dainty English pleasure line makes fitting tricky at best.
    Pal, who I sold in November, was full size or over.

    Solo... Is part cob, part full, part oversize *head bang*

    I purchased a Royal sports bridle, luckily they helped me custom size it. I was really impressed with quality, sizing and styling.

    However, I ended up selling it and buying a BR bridle which is a bit thinner leather. The thicker was just so thick for Solo's face and was rubbing... Wha-wha

    Love the bridle review!

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    1. Oh that is special. We're rocking the OS bridle with cob cheeks. Fits like it was made for her. ;-)

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