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tealamutt 11-24-2010 05:18 AM

dressage bridle help
I'm looking for opinions on a mid-range dressage bridle. I am a hunter rider but my TB and I have recently started dressage lessons and we are both enjoying them a LOT. Right now I ride in my trainer's dressage saddle which fits us both so I'm making payments to buy it but I have been using the bridle we use for jumping and have decided to upgrade and buy a dressage bridle.

I don't have a limitless budget but I far prefer to spend a little more now for something that is quality and lasts than to get a cheap hunk of junk that will need to be replaced quickly. So what does everyone like for a beginning level dressage rider? I don't think we *need* a flash (Tan accepts the bit nicely and loves contact, he never really gapes his mouth which is what I understand a flash to be for, please someone correct me if I'm wrong!) but I do like the look of them. I also wouldn't mind buying something used if it is in very good to excellent condition, if anyone is selling right now.

Thanks in advance for your help.

maura 11-24-2010 06:29 AM



he never really gapes his mouth which is what I understand a flash to be for, please someone correct me
Unfortunately, this is what way too many people use the flash for, to tie the horse's jaw shut, but it is not the correct or intended use. It's to position the bit correctly in the horse's mouth. A loose ring snaffle, adjusted correctly for a lower level dressage horse, has a lot of play and movement to it, and a flash keeps the bit from moving out of position.

So whether or not you want the flash somewhat depends on the bit you're using and the bit placement. Some bridles are convertible; you can leave the flash off but the tab or loop on the noseband doesn't show. Might be the way to go; then you'd have the option for using the flash later if you wanted to.

I don't have any specific recommendations on bridles, sorry. I bought a decent, mid quality black dressage bridle years ago for the $100 - $120 dollar range and it's held up very well.

AnitaAnne 11-24-2010 07:32 AM

If you like the bridle you are currently using, check to see if they make a Dressage bridle, it may work well for your horse. My horse is a warmblood, so I prefer a bridle with wider leather, just to balance with the size of his head. For a T-bred you could go with narrower leather.

I don't know the brand I use, but I bought it at a nearby shop where I trust the owner's opinion. I have used it for 5 years & still looks brand new. It was between $150 -200, I don't remember exactly. It feels soft but strong! I love it!!

I do not use the flash, because my horse has a shortish mouth & he doesn't like it. My horse is grey so I bought a solid black one, but my other horse was a red chestnut & he looked great in the black & white style. The red horse was much more willing and submissive & did not mind the flash.

It used to be everyone used the flash, it was just a style thing, not to hold the horses mouth closed. But you will see both plain nose band or flash at shows now, it is just a personal preference. Personally I don't plan to use a flash again, it is just another place to get really wet leather & they are a pain to keep clean...

kitten_Val 11-24-2010 09:16 AM

teala, I got a dressage bridle from Gayer's Saddlery, Inc. last year. $80 english-made. It's VERY nice (the only downside is it has silver "clinches" on noseband - I know many people like them, I just prefer plain, but the quality + price was so good I couldn't resist :wink: ). It's a tiny local store, but they ship, so you may want to call the owner and explain what you want.

tealamutt 11-24-2010 04:08 PM

Thanks everyone for your input, it is much appreciated. Kitten Val, the local 4h tack sale is coming up so I'll see if I find something there but if not I will definitely use that link, thank you!

Maura, I really appreciate your explanation of the flash. I was talking to my trainer this morning and that was basically her exact description as well. Tanner goes in a loose ring snaffle for dressage so I can see how it would be a good idea to get the flash to help with keeping it positioned properly. Also, I still think it looks nice =)

~*~anebel~*~ 11-24-2010 04:59 PM

I highly suggest the use of a flash with a loosering bit - keeps it way quieter in the mouth and allows for a better connection.

As far as for the bridle, about seven-ten years ago I splurged and bought two high quality, handmade dressage bridles. One is a snaffle and one is a double and they are of the same style (They are on my horse if you go to his page). Best thing I ever did, they both look new, haven't stretched or worn out at all (although my snaffle bridle could use an oiling..) and this is after nearly every day use, sometimes on multiple horses.
Now, I am one of those "buy it once" people. Some people like to buy cheaper stuff so they can have 3 bridles, depending on their mood, and one for a show. I like to keep everything the same and because I bought my bridles so high end and they are custom hand made I got them so they can fit almost everything I will probably ever own. They fit my 17hh, large headed Hano mare, they fit the smaller, funny headed schoolmaster I rode and they fit my current, arab faced horse as well.

Unfortunately the company I got them from has since disappeared (the bridle maker retired), but, you can find other gems in your area. Talk to your local dressage tack store to see what bridles they can get. Beyond that, I think your best resource is your local dressage tack store, they should have a wide selection in catalouges and will have in depth knowledge about quality, etc..

Good luck!

PS Stubben bridles are of excellent quality as well and can be less expensive then some "trendier" brands like Vespucci, Anky, Kieffer and Passier. I have one hanging around for tiny headed horses if I happen to be riding one.

tealamutt 11-24-2010 05:34 PM

Thanks Anebel, appreciate the thoughts. I am also a buy it once kind of a gal, or try to be as much as I can. Sadly there is literally no local dressage scene at all. It is pretty much my trainer (a former Young Rider team member who is currently in vet school with me) and a handful of gals at our barn, also all in school. The nearest tack shop is 150 miles away and even then it is a lot of western and junky english "all purpose" stuff. I'll be making a trip to seattle in a few months so hopefully I can find something I like then, hence the info gathering now! Appreciate your input, thank you.

CharliGirl 11-24-2010 06:56 PM

I purchased this bridle late last year, and I really like it:

Dover Saddlery | Horseware Amigo Event Bridle .

It's not a "dressage only" bridle, but is versatile and appropriate for many disciplines. The quality is great, and it is holding up to wear and tear.

tinyliny 11-24-2010 07:28 PM

I bought a handmade, American made dressage bridle from Jerry's Harness 11 years ago and it's still in excellent shape. I absolutely love the feel and weight of the reins (with stops on them). It is my go to bridle. I think it was about 180$ with reins, maybe a little less. The run large, so if you do select one and your horse is average of size, get a COB size.

Piaffe 11-24-2010 11:51 PM

Passier! I have a couple passier bridles and just love them! I just watch ebay/sales...i got them for under $150 each w/reins :)

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