Buying a Bridle

I decided to embark on the difficult task of buying a bridle when Mum and I went to Horse of The Year Show earlier this week.

Who knew it could be so difficult? I mean, I’m not fussy.

My bridle needed to be black. After all, my saddles and other bridles are black so it would just be strange having a brown bridle, or God forbid, a tan bridle. So I’m down to 50% of available bridles. Given that I need a full size bridle I am now reducing my options to one third. Those mathematicians amongst us can calculate the percentage of bridles which could be suitable for me. I think it is about 16% …

It’s an every day bridle, and I don’t own a money tree, so the bridle needed to be competitively priced. But at the same time I don’t want to buy cheap nasty leather – what if it breaks mid cross-country?! Despite the show bargains available most bridles were still on sale for three figures. I remember buying Otis’s first bridle for £30 and it was, or still is as I use it to lunge, good quality English leather. The last bridle I got for him was a prize, so I don’t really know how much that cost.

I don’t like bling. I think it looks naff on a Welsh Cob, and is frivolous for every day wear, which narrows down my option of bridles considerably, as most had the diamanté browband. Or even worse, the coloured piping on the noseband and browband.

Another pet hate of mine is the crank noseband. I think they can be so easily over tightened, and are bulkier on the head so make Otis’s nose look clumpy. Furthermore, I dislike the crank and flash combination. There were very few cavesson bridles available at the show, numerous flashes but predominantly cranks. All I can say is that I am thankful I wasn’t looking for a drop noseband, as that would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Then we move onto the “comfort” range. I’m quite ambivalent to the padding on the nose and poll, but don’t want it to be excessive. Unfortunately for me, most comfort bridles come with a crank noseband.

So with my, what I would consider, normal constraints, Mum and I scoured every aisle and stall, until eventually we found a general tack shop in the back corner, which stocked English leather, reasonably priced daily bridles and I got the last black, full sized, flash noseband bridle. With padding on the brow and nose band, but without an integrated noseband which means I can swap to a drop if necessary (I recently rode Llani in a drop noseband and quite liked the feel, so if I find myself getting stuck with the flash I may trial it properly). It seems like the ideal bridle.

So why is it so difficult to source one?!?

So difficult in fact, that a quick look online hasn’t produced a photo of the bridle I bought, or would even consider buying!


So this week is Horse of The Year Show, the pinnacle of anyone`s show career. This year has one of the youngest combinations ever competing – Harry Edwards-Brady who is three years old, riding two of his show ponies, both of whom are four years old themselves!

I have to admit he`s cute; but who`s dream is he pursuing? His own? Or more likely, his parent`s? I`m sure he has a lot of natural talent and feel, as it`s near impossible to teach toddlers their rising trot unless they have a flair (believe me I`ve tried enough times for pushy parents) for it. Also, there`s a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of his young and inexperienced ponies; they must have the perfect personalities, quiet enough but still with a bit of sparkle. Usually kids ponies don`t have both – mainly because by the time they`re quiet enough they`re half dead and ancient. Anyhow, good luck to little Harry, he`ll definitely win with the cute factor.

But enough about little Harry; what is it that attracts you to HOYS? And Olympia, The Royal Welsh, Newbury show etc, is it the quality of the horses, the show classes, the judging, the showjumping, or the shopping?
My Mum and friends are off to HOYS on Thursday; I think they are planning to shop for all things glittery. Everyone says you get great bargains… where are they as I always seem to miss them! Being a rider of average height, average size, with a horse of average size, I find it very difficult to find those elusive end of line 90% off rugs/poloshirts/riding boots/jodhpurs, and find myself fighting over the last size 8 joules polo shirt in this years colours with another woman (who is definitely thinking wishfully), or traipsing through the stands empty handed. It was still worth giving my Mum a shopping list.

With the classes I find it interesting, for a few minutes, then I begin to get confused – was it this bay horse I liked or the one next to it? Why has the judge moved that one up? – I almost wish to have commentary from the steward explaining the judges marks, because, lets face it the judges are never right unless your favourite has the red ribbon. It was also make it more educational too …
Last year my friend took me to Olympia for the Saturday afternoon showing; with front row seats. The showjumping was nailbiting; sometimes I thought they were going to jump into the crowd! It also makes you appreciate, when the riders are walking the course, just how high those poles are. Poor Geoff Billington doesn`t even have to limbo underneath! We`re going again this year with front row seats once more, can`t wait!
The displays and performances are also one of the attractions; Harold the Horse was hilarious a couple of years ago.
Last year at Olympia I also saw my first vaulting demo; I was seriously impressed; the kids were tiny and with so much spring! This year at HOYS the Kings Troop are performing, which I`m sure would also be pretty impressive.

So if you`re going to HOYS this week, what are the highlights? And good luck to all the competitors!!