Ok so I am getting a new bridle/headstall. I am so lost and when I talk to people I get even more confused. There are right and left ears there are brow bands there are theses and there are those and I am just simply lost. What is the difference and what do you recommend THANKS
Then any ol' one will do, so long as it fits your horse. But if you are using a true snaffle bit or hackamore, you must get a headstall with a browband and throatlatch for security. Other than that, it makes no difference.
I'm going to assume you ride western - and yes those bridles can get confusing at first glance, but a lot of the glitter and ears hoops and browbands are more for show than functionality - feel free to jump in if anyone feels otherwise?
Then the questions come down to what is important to you? And how much time and effort you want to afford to tack maintenance? A good nylon bridle will last years. But they dirty quickly. Good news is a nylon is fairly cheep and come in a variety of colours.
Leather is easier to keep clean if cleaned regularly. But it MUST be cleaned regularly to stay nice. They often cost a lot more too. But usually leather is where you see the creativity come out. This is where you'll see the V-brow bands and the beads and the one ears.
Either can be used for trail riding... but I will suggest ensuring you have a throatlatch if you like to stop and tie your horse once in a while. We have a couple trail horses who learned to pop off their bridles and thus need them.
This is a good example of a basic, simply headstall:
If a horse is prone to rearing, you'll see some riders put tie-downs on their horses as well, which account for the nosebands... although I'm not a fan of tie-downs myself.
Tiedowns look like this:
Most western bridles are fundamentally the same when it comes down to the way they are made to sit on a horse's head, there may be variations in styles, but they all behave relatively the same. So really it's about what you like and what you think looks good on your horse.
Even cheaper than the one smrobs posted, and also of very good quality, is this: Horizons Tack Collection (browband headstall)
I've gotten a lot of mileage out of buying these to decorate, and can vouch for their value and longevity.
I will say that I disagree with the person who suggested tying up with the reins--this is extremely dangerous--and I also don't find leather to be that high maintenence. Ideally, yes, it should probably be cleaned and oiled....but I have headstalls 10 years old and counting who have never been done, and are still soft and supple. You just can't abuse them.
LOL, Bubba, the only reason I am completely sold on the Cowhands are that they are one of the few decent quality bridles I can find with only one buckle. I despise having buckles on both sides of the head because I find it such a pain to have to go side to side to adjust them to match...then if the horse's head isn't just the right size and one side is one hole higher than the other, that makes my OCD kick into high gear and it drives me bonkers .
I agree though, there are a ton out there that are just as good of quality and some that are cheaper, I'm just picky though .