How I Got My Bridle
Once upon a time, I lived in NC and boarded at a legit “A” barn for the first time in my life. The trainer there at the time was from New Jersey and grew up riding the 3’6″ big eq and all things legit hunter/jumper. She was the real deal.
In contrast, I had my from-the-newspaper QH without lead changes and didn’t really know what being in a “program” meant. She didn’t have a problem with those things as I adjusted to her barn, but she did have a big problem with one thing in particular – my bridle.
You see, until 2008 I pretty much bought all my tack exclusively off of eBay. Why pay $400 for something when I can find the exact same thing for $40? Brands and high quality products were lost on me. I was the ultimate ‘bargain shopper’.
A year or so later after I arrived, I had a fancy horse that legit hunter/jumper trainer found for me, but he was extremely green so she did a lot of training rides. Every ride she would complain about my bridle.
“This thing is made of plastic!”
“The reins don’t even bend!”
“Where did you find this thing?”
I kind of shrugged it off. Sure, I liked the fancy bridles but I was poor/cheap and to me the most important thing was having a padded fancy stitch bridle… which I bought from Schneiders at around $60. At that price, it wasn’t made of plastic but it was extremely close. You could clean it, but it’d still be squeaky and oiling it was a complete joke.
I stayed at this barn a while and learned so much about what it really meant to be a hunter/jumper rider. What it meant to be in a program. What it meant to work hard (and the consequences of what happens when you don’t work hard).
I became friends with my trainer (who I met through her working student and my bff) and enjoyed my time at the barn. When my college graduation came around, my friend and trainer arrived at my graduation party with the most amazing gift in tow… a non plastic bridle! Oh so beautiful and padded and fancy stitch.
“This is not made of plastic and will fit any creature you have in the future!”
I was really, really touched.
So that’s the bridle I use everyday. I love it. I take really good care of it, and it still looks amazing. Also, I have never had anyone accuse it of being made of plastic 😉
22 thoughts on “How I Got My Bridle”
What a great ending to that story! People (non-horse people) never understand what we go through to find tack that actually works just right.
NICE! How cool! I can’t wait to buy tack for Estella when I have a real job and am not broke LOL!
Looooooove your bridle. I’ll be honest, all of my tack is hand-me-down’s or bought off of Craigslist. BUT on a good note, everything is name brand. 😉 My bridle was apparently bought at an AQHA show or off of the AQHA store….I don’t even know but it’s fancy and it was bought for $200 and I got it for $40, yay! 😉
That’s the way I try to buy tack. If it’s not given to me as a present, I buy the nicest brand I can afford used. That’s the *real* way to bargain shop!
I seriously lust over the smell of nice leather… another thing non-horse people don’t quite get. They’re seriously missing out. My most prized tack possession is for sure my double bridle, which I scored at Equine Affaire, marked down from $500 to $200. I seriously smelt it the whole way home.
There’s really nothing better than nice leather! A good piece of tack is heavenly 🙂
What kind of bridle is it? That’s a nice gift! 🙂 and sounds like it’s one that’s gotten a ton of use.
It’s a Red Barn, but I’m not sure of the exact model. <3 it!
Aw! That’s an incredibly sweet story!
My favorite bridle was a dressage bridle I bought in Germany. It was my one big souvenir, and I actually carried it back through customs in hand. (oh, the looks I got!) However, it was sized for a huge warmblood, and never really fit Guinness. Plus, the maroon padding and rubber reins looked ridiculous next to his red chestnut. The bridle I have now is a freebie, but it’s pretty good quality. I’ve replaced the reins and noseband, and joke that I’ll replace a bit of it every year until I have a really nice bridle. This year, new cheekpieces! 😉
I wish bridles weren’t so expensive… My first hunter bridle was still just an $150 HDR bridle that I got a discount on because I worked at the tack shop, but you know it did the job well and is still trucking along looking pretty good! Strangely, with Wizard’s bridles, I’ve had fantastic luck… I took a chance on a 40$ (real leather) Horze dressage bridle which actually, when cleaned up, looks fabulous! Some of the little crystals have started to fall out of the browband though, so eventually I’ll upgrade! I got real leather reins from Rolex for a steal at $10 to complete it. And his figure 8 is a $90 bridle (can’t remember the brand) I got off Dover, and after trimming down the fluff it’s been amazing. Somehow it never collects dust and is already so soft. That being said, I still dream of a super nice dressage bridle and a figure eight with no fluff (I hate the fluff!), but those will have to wait 🙂
That is SO cool that you gifted that, though!! It looks great 🙂
That’s a wonderful story 😀
Awesome ending and so great that you still are able to use the bridle. I am currently using a $100? ish bridle that I got for $50, and it’s great…however, I LOVE bridles and really want one to keep really nice for showing.
What a thoughtful gift. My trainer is forever trying to help me realize the importance of “nice” tack. It’s not that I don’t get it but money only goes so far no matter how much you may like one thing or another!
I’m the bargain bin Queen! 😉 What a lovely gift. Nice leather is SUCH a treat, isn’t it? Willow just got a Stubben bridle at Rolex last year and I cannot believe what I was missing out on. Now it just has to last the rest of my life, because I’ll never be able to afford another one.
What a great gift that you’ll always cherish, even after you retire it someday, far, far into the future. I too could only afford inexpensive tack 10 years ago. I bought exclusively from StateLineTack (aka Horse.com) because they were in my local PetSmart at the time. Talk about plastic. UGH. But I also didn’t know better. Now, I’m a total leather snob, esp with bridles/halters and if it’s not supple, actually smells like leather or has a plasticy, not gonna take oil, shine to it then I won’t buy it *cough*Vespucci*cough*, no matter what price point it is.
That’s a true friend right there. Awesome story.
Buying nice ends up saving in the long run… what a thoughtful gift! 🙂
What a sweet story. You really had some great friends at that barn.
Wow! What a thoughtful gift. :0)
Love the story! What a perfect gift!
Aww what a nice gift! Very thoughtful.
I know the feeling: shopping on a budget. I was fortunate enough to fall into a GREAT find when I got my ADT Gazelle saddle for a whole $400 when teen daughter went to college and non-horse mom wanted it gone. My obsession with matching tack brought me to stalk a particular dealer on eBay who always had zero reserve auctions on slightly flawed ADT tack. For example, my ADT leathers I got to go with my saddle. One set of holes was punch an inch higher. So BOOM! I got calfskin leathers, brand new, $30. I invested my time and eventually won a brand new, with tags, cob sized Gazelle bridle that retailed for over $300….for a whole $60! Only to find out my coming yearling would soon grow right on out of cob sized tack. I was fortunate though. I had never used the bridle prior so it was still “like new” and my $60 eBay find was sold on Tack Trader for $250 and gave me the cash I needed to in turn, purchase a lovely used Aramas. I love this bridle more than my children on most days. Moral of the story: you CAN find quality tack at bargain prices. It may not be new but $400 bridles are that expensive for a reason. They hold their quality for a lifetime.