I really, really want a pair of leather split reins for trail riding! I have a picture in my head of my mare wearing a soft white rope sidepull attached to chocoately brown leather split reins as we hack through the winter woodlands.
The thing is I know nothing about what makes good leather reins, and I absolutely do not need another pair of reins. I've got a dozen pair of reins lying around, but nothing made of leather except English rubberized ones that I hate. So I'm feeling frugal about the situation and not wanting to spend a lot of money.
Is something like the Smartpak Rockin' SP Split Reins worth the $50, or would I end up just as happy with a $15 pair of no-name reins from eBay? If I didn't get something that was soft and supple, how long would it take them to soften up, and what products should I be using to oil them? I've heard of a process called stretching that supposedly softens up reins too - does anyone know what that's about?
If you know the brand name of your favorite leather split reins, please share it with me! I'd feel a lot more confident buying under a brand name than just trying to go by description.
Am I being too particular and obsessive about something as simple as reins, or am I justified in being picky since it's a major channel of communication with my horse? I ride her bitless, by the way, if that changes things.