A few months ago I purchased the Ovation Ultra Fancy-Stitched Wide Nose Bridle from Dover to be my show bridle for Rio. Now that I have been using it for about 4 months, I felt like it was time to give it a proper review.
Why did I choose this bridle?
Predominately, it had the look I was looking for at what I consider a reasonable price point. It is currently listed on Dover for $169.95, which also includes fancy stitched reins. Now don’t get me wrong, I dream of ultra lux French bridles with butter soft leather, and I absolutely do think that they are worth the cost, but…. (yes there is a but) I have to be reasonable. I was in a situation with a horse with a lot of vet bills at the the time, and I was also trying to set aside some money for future horse shows, so I couldn’t blow $400-600 on a bridle, as much as I wanted to. I was doing a ton of shopping around on FB groups to try and find a higher end wide nose bridle second hand that was still in show condition, but I just couldn’t find one. Everything I came across was either too used to be a show bridle, still too expensive (my budget was max $225ish), or a cob or warmblood size.
What is the quality like?
I have been very impressed with the quality of the Ovation. The leather is Wickett and Craig, and has a lovely color and luster. It is NOT the plasticky leather of the cheaper bridles, where the color is like painted on. The leather is very sturdy, so much so that I have oiled it quite a bit and I still condition it regularly to encourage it to soften. It is not stiff, I just get the feeling that with continued use and conditioning it will gt nice and soft. Although I plan on it being a show bridle, I have been using it every day for a few months and it is holding up perfectly. I plan to continue regular use until I feel that it is sufficiently conditioned and softened and then I will reserve it for shows only.
What is the padding like?
The crown piece has really nice soft padding on the inside. It feels lovely, and I’m hoping that Rio also appreciates it. The 1 inch wide noseband has no padding, which I feel is a nicer, more elegant look for most horses. I am personally not a big fan of padded AND wide noseband bridles, I just think it is too much for most horses faces.
How does the sizing run?
I would say it runs true to size. Even though Rio is 17.3 hands he still wears a horse size bridle, on about the 4th hole from the top on the cheek pieces, the 3rd hold from the end (loosest) throatlach, and 3rd hole from the end on the noseband. Rio can wear an O/S halter on all the tightest holes, but it is still semi loose on him. He cannot wear an O/S bridle as the cheek pieces are too long.
What is the color like?
Color is a dark chocolate brown with a hint of red in some lighting. There is some slight variation in color between one of the cheek pieces and the strap for the noseband that I have noticed.
Overall I would give this bridle 5 stars for value, and 4 stars for quality. For $160 you are not going to get 5 star quality, but I absolutely think this bridle is an amazing value, and no one will be able to tell that it isn’t a $500 bridle while you are in the show ring!
What is your favorite bridle on a budget?