I'm going to say right off the bat, this review might come across as biased but if you know me, you'll know I have an appreciate for quality tack and horse equipment, so know that this review, despite being a retailer for Horze, is my honest opinion.
I came across this bridle some time ago, but the price had me questioning the quality. After Sierra broke the cheek pieces on my $400 BR Snaffle (* side eye *) this fall, I rode her in my Fancy Stitch Hunter Bridle, but I absolutely despise the reins on it. While they look nice due to the fancy stitch near the bit, they're way too wide for my hands and call me a dressage princess, but I loathe laced reins.. So in a recent stock order I purchased two of the Horze Eclipse bridles, one for stock and one possibly for Sierra, but it sat in my stock pile for a few weeks before I decided to pull it out and try it on. Upon arrival and unboxing, I was surprised to see there was white padding on the crown piece, but looking back at the stock photo I can see a small hint of it. Regardless, I was less than thrilled at that.
Sierra has an overly sensitive mouth/nose. Her Pallet is weirdly soft, and she absolutely despises a tight noseband, something that her sellers told me right off the bat within 5 minutes of meeting her. She does not need a flash, and I have had a HELL of a time finding a decent quality dressage snaffle without a flash. I was neutral on the crank feature most bridles have because while it is more 'in', again - Sierra hates a tight noseband so it would be simply for 'looks' at this point. You'd be shocked at the amount of stores and retailers who have told me to "just cut off the flash loop" - and they told me this on bridles that were in the ball park of $175 - $375. While sure, it's logical and they probably didn't think much of it, it seemed absolutely ludicrous to pay that for a bridle only to turn around and take an exacto knife to it, or send it to a saddler to pay money to have it professionally removed. I mean, I was getting desperate to find something and I even considered dusting off my double and just not using the slip for the Weymouth, but that seemed even more ridiculous. Heavan forbid should I take the reins from my broken bridle and put them on my Hunter Bridle for the time being, because black reins + brown bridle = much embarassing.
I will say straight up, I hate V Browbands. I think they're tacky, and whatever the opposite of 'classy' is. They're right up there with the rainbow or neon coloured nylon halters in my books (again, call me a Dressage Princess if you wish) and I wasn't a fan of the white padding on the crown as I find it distracting and unecessary. The white padding on the noseband, although it appeases my love for all things traditional, it can also be very distracting to a Judge while on a horse who's not exactly 'steady' (much like white gloves) in the contact, but I kinda love it so I was willing to use that as motivation to make improvements in that area of our schooling.
|FWIW, it was pretty dark out in these photos|
After I put this bridle on Sierra and fitted it to her, I felt much like that scene in the Grinch where his heart starts warming up - because I was kinda DIGGING the V Browband. The Browband accents itself are very pretty, sparkly (what can I say, i'm a goldfish) and have a faint hint of pink and while i'm still not a huge fan of the shape, it's grown on me. That being said, if Santa put a custom wave browband in my stocking I would change it out without hesitation.
Additionally, the padding is incredibly soft on the noseband/crown piece and the leather appears to be of surprisingly good quality for the price of the bridle (around $50-$60 USD retail, reins not included). I also love the slight narrowing to allow for bit clearance. The noseband in general is very soft; something I was worried about. I hate the dreaded 'noseband gap' that occurs on a lot of narrow type heads, but also can't overly tighten it to reduce that due to Sierra's hate for tight nosebands but to my surprise, it fit incredibly smoothly to her nose while remaining relatively loose.
I've ridden in this bridle for a few weeks now, and it continues to impress me considering the price. For an 'entry level' bridle, I give it a 10/10. It did not come with reins so I purchased a pair of inexpensive ones from Horze that feel much better in my hands. I'll probably cut off the rein-stops as they're pointless for us, but it's pretty customary for basic reins to come with them so it was expected.
For what it's worth, I am getting my BR Bridle fixed, I just haven't gotten around to it but I am considering selling it at this point, as the Horze bridle is softer for her nose, and is more than suited to what we're doing with our riding/showing plans!
|Yes, the throat latch can be adjusted/buckled on both sides|