Monday, December 30, 2013

Tack Review: Harwich Bridle

I want to be someone who has a huge collection of bridles. At the moment, I have but a small collection of bridles. Mostly I have really old bridles from my old horses, and they're gathering dust in my Mom's tack room in Virginia. I have a couple spares in my tack trunk, but they're nothing to write home about. Maybe someday Lex will earn a figure-8 bridle, but she's a long way from doing the jumpers.

When I first got her, I snagged an Intec by M. Tolouse bridle online used for pretty cheap. That particular bridle isn't made anymore. I liked it - raised, fancy-stitched, fit her well.

Old bridle.
Then, a tragic thing happened: I took it to the tack store to have the nameplate put on the crown piece, as you do, and the idiot who does leather repair put it in the BROW BAND. I almost died. I stood there holding this bridle and got real, real sad. They said they'd replace it, and they did eventually, but it took months. I actually just got the bridle they gave me and now I am, in theory, selling it to Sprinkler Bandit if she still wants it next month.

In the meantime, I needed a new bridle for the horse. The old crappy ones I had lying around didn't quite fit her right, and I don't think she's that hard to fit. She has a normal cob-size head. So I read a million reviews of bridles, considered my low budget, and decided that Harwich was worth trying.

Retail Price: $159.95
What I paid: $143.96 (Thanks, SmartPerks!)

Why I Chose This Bridle
As I said above, it seemed like a good buy for the money, and I knew I could return it right away if I didn't like it. I like the padded crown - I've never had a padded crown bridle before, because I'm a hundred and ten years old and so are my bridles. I also like that it came with raised fancy-stitch laced reins. I have the Harwich raised fancy stitch rubber reins, which are what I use regularly, but when it's time to go into the hunter ring, I'll break out the laced reins. I knew I wanted a raised fancy-stitch bridle because I think they're beautiful and they'd look good on the mare. I'm not really into bling - you're unlikely to see me in a brow band with clinchers - but I think fancy stitch is pretty. I also wanted something hunter-ring appropriate, since we'll be there for awhile before we hit the jumper ring, and there's no reason this bridle won't work for the jumpers, too.

She managed to keep her tongue in her mouth for once.
Leather Quality, Hardware, and Stitching
I really like the leather quality of this bridle. It's soft, which I know some people don't like because it doesn't hold up forever, but there is essentially no break-in time. A couple coats of oil did help with that new-leather stiffness, but it was pliable and nice right away. I put my Harwich rubber reins on it instead of using the laced reins that were included, but I like the rubber reins just fine and expect to like the laced ones as well. If not, I'll surely let you know. The stitching all looked great: even, tight, and pretty. The hardware is also just fine. I'm not one to be blown away by bridle buckles, but they're sturdy enough and I'm not worried about any trouble there. I mean, I'm sure that if I had an Antares to compare it to, I'd be less impressed, but compared to my girlfriend's Crosby and Bobby's bridles, I really like it a lot.

Cuter than the model horse above, I think.

Lex has a cob-size head that might juuuuuust be able to sneak into some horse-size stuff. She's wide through the forehead and has a delicate little muzzle, but overall, her head is nicely proportioned and not especially hard to fit. I got her the cob size with pretty good confidence that it would fit and knowing it would be easy to exchange if not. It fits her exactly right. I also think it suits her head. She'd probably look good in a flat field hunter-style bridle, too. Her head is a lot more refined than the model horse's and I think it works on both of them. I wouldn't go for any more padding or flash than this, though. It would be too much for her.


I love this bridle. It's exactly what I wanted for the price I could afford. It happens to match my saddle well, and that's always a nice thing. She's a pretty horse, she'll look good in most things. If you're looking for a bridle like this, I highly recommend it. I really don't have anything bad to say about it at all.


  1. The browband??? Seriously? I don't even know how that would seem like a good idea. Wow.

    Haha. Love that bridle on Lex. So classy!

    1. Dude, I know. I mean, my dad might do that because he has no idea how bridles work but this was the TACK REPAIR GUY.

    2. OMG my husband can even put on a bridle plate and he doesn't even know what a bridle is. It looks great on her! Any bridle can be used for jumpers. I only use a figure eight nose band on my horses that open their mouth. You can always get the noseband later if needed. Don't take it to the same guy for a name plate ;)

    3. Lex might need a figure-8 later, but she's so green right now that it isn't worth it. She chews on the bit the entire ride, but she's responsive and relaxed so it's fine. I think a lot of people just use a figure-8 because they think it looks cool. Which is fine!

  2. I have this bridle and LOVE it! :) It's a great buy and there isn't a thing that i don't like about it!

    1. Yeah, SmartPak did a good job with this one!

  3. Her head is SO refined. That last photo really brings it out.

    1. I love that picture of her. It's amazing to me that this horse was standing around in a lameness study at a vet school for years.