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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bridle Shower

Show bridles and reins are steadily becoming more and more elaborate. This coincides with the trend in show saddles. It seems that no surface, no matter how small, is exempt from being covered in silver. I understand that part of the function of a show bridle is to frame the horse’s head and to bring attention to that part of its body. However, it seems that the silver has gotten a bit out of hand. I happen to like a simple bridle with perhaps some silver on the cheekpieces or earpiece with a lovely engraved silver bit. I also like braided bridles with romal reins. They are very fancy without being overpowering. I like stuff like this.

Now, in contrast we have things like this.

Really, that is just a bit much don’t you think?

Here we have another victim of the crazed Be-Dazzler. This is made by a VERY prominent saddle company and I am sure is NOT cheap. The sparkles sure make it look that way though.

Here are some other examples of over-the-top embellishment, there is more silver on these reins than there is leather. I would drive myself nuts trying to polish it, can you imagine these on a sweaty horse neck?

Really, is all this necessary? Are we trying to show off the horse, or blind the judges and distract them from the fact that some of our horses are lame on all four legs and we are terrible riders?


  1. I wonder what those silver reins feel like to hold.

  2. Too much bling bling. This post should have a "needs sunglasses to view" warning.

    I have the plain dark oil with silver headstall (second picture). Durable, timeless and elegant.

  3. I have a headstall almostidentical to the 2ndone, just missing the cheack buckle right now. That third set is too much and looks cheap. But the trim would look much nicer on dark oil. The red would be a great set for a rodeo Queen or parade where you want sparkle but to show?

  4. I don't "think" the red stuff would be seen in WP. I see alot of that stuff with barrel racers around here. They like that trashy bling for some reason......

  5. You wouldn't think so, but I have found that the same someone producing the red set also has bedecked some of the show saddles with crystals. Observe...

    Scary Show Saddle</a

  6. OOoooh, is that bit a Les Vogt????

    Now that saddle in the link you give....would be ok, if they had used ALL clear stones. Multi-colored rhinestones do, indeed, take it into the *tacky* category.

    (Gotta go look for that bit)

  7. I think so, I don't remember for sure.

  8. Heh... I blame this all on Flava Flav, somehow.
    What's next.... get your horse a grill?!?!?!

    That first headstall is REALLY nice.

    Here's a question: if Foundation QH shows forbid silver, what about elaborate horsehair inlay or rawhide braiding?

    And what if you have just a couple of silver conchos? Are those verboten?

    I'm just curious and completely ignorant.

    You're right, braided romal reins can be a very understated elegant thing on a beautiful and graceful horse, like a silk Armani T-shirt on Ricky Martin.

    Maybe I should blame the country music scene. Or Hannah Montana.

    It's more fun to blame Flava Flav.

  9. Personally, the first few would only be okay (for me) if they were two, one, or no-ear headstalls. Browband looks have been out for awhile and for good reason. They make all horse heads look atrocious IMO. It's one of my pet peeves, actually. The craftsmanship looks nice, though. And regardless, those are *functional*, so kudos to the maker.

  10. The silver reins are more about being heavy than being blingy. Heavy reins on a big bit that's balanced to hang vertical means that the horse has more incentive to not move his head, and also means it takes very little hand movement for the horse to feel it a LOT.

    The reins also draw attention to "look what a drape my horse is on!"

    So it's not just a matter of people wanting the bling. :)

  11. I love a little bling.

    rhythm beads with bell and beaded browband

    But it can definitely be taken way too far.

  12. Unfortunately it's gone from how well the person can ride the horse, and how well the horse moves to 'LOOOKIE! See how much silver is dripping off my saddle?! See how much silver I have on my bridle?! See the fancy bit?!' Gag me, when did it go from the person being judged and their horse being judged to see how much more silver they have than their competitors. Alright, you want to stand out from the croud, alright. Show it though your riding and the horse's abilities. Not how damn rich you are.....

  13. Amber said...
    The silver reins are more about being heavy than being blingy. Heavy reins on a big bit that's balanced to hang vertical means that the horse has more incentive to not move his head, and also means it takes very little hand movement for the horse to feel it a LOT.

    Hey, that makes sense. I have seen rawhide ones that are weighted. I still sure would hate to have to clean it!!

  14. I think that browbands are pretty, and can really enhance a nice head.

  15. I agree with Amber. Some of these are functional when you look above and beyond local and 4H shows.

    The 'blingy' reins are seen mainly in the western world of the Arabian show circuit--I haven't had the chance to see it on a QH; they'd probably get laughed out of the arena! Hehe They are weighted and drapey--and when you look at the obscene neck angle that Arabians are trained to carry in the WP classes, you'll see that very little of the rein actually comes into contact with the neck. And if the horse is sweating in one/two classes... He isn't ready for showing! With all the show sheen on the horse, they probably really don't get that dirty at all. Completely nonfunctional for recreational riding, of course!

    Also agree about the one and double-ear bridles... not only are they much more popular, they're probably almost the ONLY bridle you'll see in western pleasure classes. In reining, you won't often see a lot of 'bling'.

  16. Gotta say-The brow bands aren't supposed to be about looks, but balance. A one ear works for a solid curb, but a snaffle or a broken-mouth curb? I want a brow band for evenness. A one-ear pulls more on one side than the other on anything but a solid shanked bit.

  17. I'm sure; but that's whats in the arenas nowadays (for WP). I'm a fan of the two-ears; a lot of the single-ear styles have phased out (not as much as the brow band). The brow band is way more popular in events that require speed, but in the WP ring, no one really pulls on the reins anyway, so there's no pulling on the bit.

  18. Wow! I was on the phone when I typed that; it came out really curt. My apologies!
    /For training, my bridles have browbands; I only put my two-eared show bridle on a finished horse. :)

  19. Ok just to say I really like the red sparklies but that being said I would like them for a parade or at a playday I think they would be fun:)
    But for everyday trail riding and barrel practices my plain old tack would be better suited. Being that my old mare will be 37 in April we don't ride anymore she's just a pasture ornament and she gives my 7 year old rides around the pasture. But she'd still look prettyful in the red sparklies:)

  20. Such a shame that these gaudy pieces take away focus from the horse and rider... or maybe it is a distractionary tactic?