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 😉