006Would you like to know how to change me from a mild-mannered Adult Amateur rider into a stark raving lunatic?  Put a hard to deconstruct bridle in front of me and ask me to take it apart, but as I’m trying to take it apart, then have it break.  The comments spewing from my mouth were not fit for public consumption or for ears under the age of 17 or over the age of 80 (my grandmother would have had the vapors).  Why was I trying to take apart a bridle?  Well, I guess I need to back up to the start of the story.

Ike started with a bridle that I found in Wellington, Florida while I was there horse shopping for him.  When Ms. C and I weren’t test riding horses, we were hopping from one tack store to another.  The bridle I found had a nice wide noseband and no price tag.  The store manager told me he’d sell it to me for $50.  Sold!  I almost had to wear it home as a necklace since I had so many other purchases stuffed into my luggage.  In any case, the bridle fit Ike everywhere but the browband which was a tad too tight.

So what does a DQ do when she needs a new browband?  She heads to Browbands with Bling ( and starts shopping.  Katherine has an amazing selection of browbands.  And, if you can’t find a design you like, she will do a custom one for you.  Her work is impeccable and if your horse outgrows the one you have, she will take it on trade and make you a larger one.  So far, Ike has not outgrown this browband…I probably just jinxed myself.

But I digress.  It did not take Ike long to outgrow the first bridle, so I purchased a lovely padded one.  I selected the oversized one thinking it would last a while.  It seemed to be everything we needed, but I did again have to replace the standard browband with my sparkly one since the standard one was again to tight across the expanse of Ike’s forehead.  Hmm, I’m beginning to see a trend here.

Well, a few weeks ago, I happened to notice a spot behind Ike’s left ear when I was putting on his halter.  There was a rubbed spot that had no hair.  He was still wearing his fly mask all the time and it was thought that the fly mask created some irritation.  Fast forward to this week.  We realized that it wasn’t the fly mask, but the lovely padded bridle that I thought would last us a few years.  Oh, crap.  Not good.  We feared that it could cause pain if the situation was not remedied soon.

Ms. C pulled out one of her bridles to compare fit.  Her bridle fit Ike fine with no pinching or tightness.  No matter how we played with the fit of mine (even punching half holes), the headstall was tight behind his ears.  Bizarre.  I even pulled out a measuring tape to compare the length of the headstalls.  Exactly the same.  Ms. C wasn’t using the bridle, so she offered to let me put my bit and reins on her bridle for the time being….now enter stage right, Bridlezilla.

I brought the bridles home to make the switch.  Easy enough task right?  Wrong.  The evil hooks that manufacturers use to hold the bit to the bridle are a PITA, especially when they are a bit older and the leather gets stiff.  I start to work on one side with no luck.  I move to the other and as easy as one, two, three, it was off.  Oh no, wait, I just took the rein off, not the headstall.  Sigh, that is embarrassing.  I continue to wrestle with the leather.  Oooooh, I think it is coming apart.  Well, it did, but I managed to pull the hook completely out of the headstall.  %^&#$.  Now I still need a headstall for Baby Huey’s head AND I owe Ms. C a new one as well.  Super-duper.

The offending hook

The offending hook

Well my town is not Wellington.  Pickings are slim at tack stores if you are a dressage rider in this area of Virginia.  I did not want to spend my entire day fighting weekend traffic in Northern Virginia to find a bridle, so I headed 30 minutes south and kept my fingers crossed. Ms. C can browse catalogs for her replacement but I need one yesterday, so I must hope that this tack store has something workable.  I smiled at the saleslady and told her what I needed: one oversized, black dressage bridle, reins not necessary.  We head over to the wall of bridles. There were at least 100 bridles available and can you guess how many dressage bridles in Baby Huey size?  One.  I’ll take it.

Once at the barn, I got to work.  The new bridle has four pieces: the headstall, the noseband/flash, the browband, and the reins.  I ended up using only the headstall.  Noseband?  Too small – pulled the one off the very first bridle.  Reins?  Leather – I will use my rubber reins.  Browband?  Surprise, too small – using my sparkly one.

The lesson learned from all this?  My horse has a very large and hard-to-fit head.  Maybe it is Ike’s way of hoping for a custom bridle.  Keep dreaming big boy, Mom’s pocketbook isn’t that big.  But I do now have a large collection of bridles and bridle pieces for sale.  Let me know what you need.