dressage bridle suggestions for a "delicate" mare
so... berry needs a dressage bridle. the bridle she's currently in is fine for hacking and whatever (not like we're going to be showing) but it's horse size and one the smallest holes possible and it's still a bit large and obviously doesn't fit right. so... if i'm going to buy her a new bridle i might as well get her a dressage one to go with her new (to us) dressage saddle. thing is... i am NOT a fan of the buckle bit ends. is there actually a point to those? so if you know of a nice quality dressage bride that DOESN'T have buckle bit ends - woot!
so... does anyone have a dressage bridle they love? or are you a fan of a particular brand for whatever reason? would you please share with me? i don't mind spending more $ for better quality but i also don't have a ton of money to spend when i have three horses and umpteen million pieces of tack to start. :P
also... she's very VERY mouthy/fussy with the bit she's in - a french link D ring. i'm thinking of swapping her out to a single jointed bit to see how she handles that. perhaps the double joint of the french link is too "busy" in her mouth? any thoughts on that would be appreciated as well. for reference, she just had her teeth floated a week and a half ago so it's not a dental issue. i'm relatively sure the last people who had her were riding her in a kimberwicke or a pelham and perhaps used draw reins, etc. just based on her jaw sensitivity and "odd" neck muscle development.
I used to ride Corporal (Arabian) with a "Cob-sized" bridle. It was slightly smaller than horse size and fit his head perfectly, but it's larger than pony size.
Regarding buckle ends, perhaps you could have a new show bridle made for you and have the reins sewn on. The US Cavalry bridles had sewn reins.
There are a lot of brands that don't have the buckle ends. My favorite is Gatsby for every day riding, however they don't make their snaffle bridles in black :( I do see a lot of reasonably priced snaffle bridles however that do come in black without the buckle ends at places like dover, smartpak, and sometimes even stateline... all online. I know SmartPak has a fit guarantee so if it doesn't fit they will exchange for another size. I haven't used it personally but I've heard a lot of good things about this bridle Plymouth Dressage Bridle from people I've talked to at shows.
As for your bit, a single joint is actually more harsh that the double joint of your french link and can even have a nutcracker effect hitting the roof of the mouth and pinching the toungue. You might want to try a double joint that doesn't have the thin link in the middle. Cinny is very bit sensitive and he goes well in this Korsteel oval mouth copper snaffle and he really really loves this...which we use all the time now Happy Mouth doubled jointed loose ring. In fact He now grabs the bit from me before I'm even ready to put the bridle on him, and it's a fight to get it back from him at the end of our ride!
As for "fussy and mouthy" is she mainly licking and playing with her bit, or is she grabbing it and tossing her head? Licking and playing with it, especially to the point of drooling is actually what they want for dressage and is a great trait so if this is all she is doing I wouldn't worry. If she is tossing her head, gritting her teeth, grabbing the bit in her teeth...then I would switch out.
I have a cob sized bridle but swapped out the browband for a horse sized one. The browband was just a tad bit too small on my horse.
My horse was ridden in a Kimberwicke with a martingale and had the same issues you are describing. My trainer put him in a D-ring Happy Mouth snaffle (no martingale) and he was in that for about a year, then chewed it up so she put him in an eggbutt, french link snaffle and he loves it. The Happy Mouth was soft and gentle enough that it got him over his fear that bits were going to hurt.
I don't know anything about dressage bridles (sorry!) but I have read that dropped/Baucher snaffles can be really great for horses that don't like a whole lot of movement in their moth. The way I heard it put was the the drop part creates extra stability which some horses really like. That could be something to try at least. :)
My mare doesn't have the same issue but she really loves her Baucher, more than any other snaffle type bit I've put her in.
I love both - everyday and show bridles - mine (I'm a sucker for the nice smooth quality leather for my tack), but I don't know the brand of either. :( The letters are so small I can't read them (I got one in my local tack store, the guy brings tack from Europe, other one came new from consignment store in VA).
I love the quality of Nunn Finer leather (I tried both - reins and breastplates). I know they make bridles as well, but unfortunately I never touched one "in person". I bet they should be nice quality too! Here is the website for the maker itself: Nunn Finer the choice of English riders for top quality leather goods since 1986.
oh i'm all about the nice bridles - i actually have five bridles but they're all horse sized hence why i'm shopping. the cheapest of the bridles i have still cost me $100 so i'm not afraid of spending money - my favorite being the Passier bridlework. however, i can't currently justify spending $300 for another Passier (unless i get luck on ebay!) at the moment. :( i'll check out the plymouth bridles - i like the idea of the fit guarantee!
as far as bits go - i've never put anything in this mare's mouth that she didn't "complain" about in some way. let me think: copper oval mouth loose ring - i think it was too "fat" for her mouth; myler loose ring comfort snaffle - she actually seemed to like this one but it "walked away" with the bridle (gotta love people); a copper roller D ring - only tried this once years ago so i can't really remember her thoughts on it; french link D ring - she quiets with it but still will toss her head and try to grab it. i think a good deal of it has to do with how she was being ridden before i got her back and that she was used as a kids lesson pony, so i think some of it is learned evasion tactics.
i thought a regular single joint snaffle might work for her seeing as, as odd as it seems, my TB gelding HATES anything with a double joint and is super happy, soft and salivating with a german silver loose ring single joint snaffle. i bought a happy mouth loose ring single joint snaffle on ebay today for giggles so we'll see what she thinks of that. maybe i can find a baucher as well as suggested. i'll try whatever - i just want her to be happy.
How about this one: Victory Canter English Tack & Apparel - Horse Tack - Bridles - Plain & Plain Raised - Nunn Finer Brentina Bridle (although it's not cheap, but not a price of Passier either) I'd want one for myself for b-day. Lol! They make bridles here in US and as I said quality of the reins I have is very nice.
Plymouth is OK, but I believe made in India or China (so leather won't be a great quality). The price is good though. :)
oooooohhhhh made in america is such a super bonus!!! thanks kitten val - i'll check that one out. :)
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