Horses, like people come in all shapes and sizes and have all sorts of personalities. Finding the right bridle that works for what you want, but more importantly your horse’s head, is vital. You want them to be comfortable, but you also need it to be functional for your chosen disciplines.
I started off with a pony bridle that was really cheap and had the plastic coating on the leather. As my pony Finn got a bit older he grew and started to fill out. To my surprise his head grew slightly as well. I eventually decided to get the Schockemöhle Sports EQUITUS ALPHA bridle in pony size. It is fantastic, but since I do a lot of show jumping and cross-country training as well as some hunting, it is not the optimum choice. The design of the cheek pieces make it far more suitable for dressage than jumping.
After searching for a bridle I liked, and one that would fit Finn’s odd sized head, I ordered a Cob size grackle bridle, the Schockemöhle Sports RIO SELECT. Once it arrived I tried it on and was surprised that it actually fit. It was a little on the larger side, but it is easy to alter and make the straps slightly smaller. I was concerned that it might look too consuming on his face because well, there’s not a lot of head to a pony, however he looks adorable in it — like a little show jumper.
The RIO SELECT has helped with gaining slightly more control and getting Finn to listen to the bit rather than opening his mouth and allowing the bit to move around, it also adds pressure on the nose when I need it. Even though Finn is only a pony, during cross-country schooling and hunting he can get extraordinarily strong. Yes, rideability through the seat plays a big part, however when you have a 14.1hh pony going up to a 1.0m log out on a hunt run, sometimes you just need that extra bit of control to say, ‘Hey mate, listen here’. And for that reason, this bridle has been a great choice for me. I wouldn’t use any other bridle on Finn now.
He is also quite sensitive and used to move away when I had my old cheap bridles on him because they were made of harder leather with little to no padding. The RIO SELECT has an incredibly soft headpiece, it’s like a cushion behind his ears. Since using the RIO SELECT he hasn't been upset at all when I put his bridle on. It is a bridle that can be used for most disciplines and the flash strap doesn't have to be firm all the time. If I’m just going for a quiet ride I usually leave it quite loose, so he knows he can relax. He knows the moment the flash strap is done up more firmly, we are going to do something fun!
The entire bridle features beautiful padding in places where it sits firmly on the horse’s face, which is fantastic because it is comfortable for them and also prevents rub marks!
After a ride I just wipe off the sweat and hang it back up ready for next time. If it’s kept relatively clean from sweat, chewed grass and slobber, the soft leather very rarely needs a leather balm. Because really, who has the time?
I couldn't be happier with my RIO SELECT bridle. It was definitely the right choice for my pony and me.