Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Matt's dressage bridle

Here's another kind of tack "mistake" that doesn't bother me when I'm judging a performance class.   
It may not be obvious on first glance, but look carefully at that browband.  It's sitting beneath the point where the throatlatch splits from the cheekpiece.  This is a not a standard arrangement, and there are some performance judges who will take exception to anything that falls outside the normal range.
Needless to say, I am not one of those judges.  Positioning the browband in this manner does not interfere with the function of the bridle.  Instead, it creates a little bit of extra space for the horse's ears.  That might not be a big deal for most horses, but if you've got one that's extra sensitive, it can be a life saver.  Note that Matt also wears his bridle number on the saddle blanket.  That's another accommodation for a horse with ear issues. 
Tack issues like this just don't matter in the real world.  What matters is performance...
and despite his funky browband arrangement, Matt--who shows under his registered name, Haidaseeker Playboy--is a top competitor.
Let me be clear--I'm not suggesting that performance showers set out to use mismatched tack or bridles that are assembled "incorrectly".  It's always better to get things as close to "perfect" as possible.  However, as a judge, I'm not going to throw out a superior entry because of minor tack errors.  As long as it's safe and functional, it's fine by me.


  1. Thought that chestnut head looked familiar ;)

  2. Yeah, I've only been sitting on those pictures for more than a year...

  3. How interesting: I must say, I don't think I've ever seen that browband arrangement before. I can see how an "eary" horse would prefer it, though. Glad his mom figured that out!

  4. So what about an entry which explained that the bridle was done that way on purpose because the horse has sensitive ears? Would that help, or hinder?

  5. Well, unfortunately, the explanation behind that setup is much more's a cheap bridle (I only use it to show), and I couldn't get the browband to fit on the crownpiece and have it, well, fit -- the browband holes aren't quite big enough. Thus I engineered it that works, and as you say, we get the job done! Oh, and the number is on the pad because it falls off that bridle. :-P Incidentally, I swear my other bridles are normal! ;-)

  6. Oh, that's funny! I guessed it was an ear issue because I knew someone else who dealt with an ear problem that way. Of course, that just goes to show there can be multiple reasons why an entry might have a tack "error" that isn't really an error... And no matter what the reason--it doesn't have any effect on the judging!

  7. Sorry, Allie. I missed your question earlier.

    Unless I was creating a portrait type entry, I wouldn't plan to create a performance set-up with mixed black and brown tack or a bridle put together like this. Things happen, though. Bridles break or go missing, and sometimes in the rush of tacking up at a live show, things don't go on exactly right. If I'm judging, I won't be unduly harsh to entrants with non-functional tack problems. I am WAY more concerned with how the HORSE is performing. If you get that part right, I can live with the tack. I may not LOVE it, but it's not enough to make me want to place a perfectly tacked but inferior horse over it.

    Does that make sense?