Monday, October 17, 2011

Paragon's black bridle

Yesterday the United States Dressage team won the Gold Medal at the Pan Am Games in Guadalajara, Mexico.  
photo by Mollie Bailey
Perhaps the brightest star of the day was Heather Blitz's giant Danish Warmblood gelding, Paragon.  At just eight years of age, this horse is already being touted as the next big thing in the world of international dressage.
photo by Mollie Bailey
And yet, if Paragon was a model horse I fear he would be overlooked on the judging table for the plain and simple reason that his tack doesn't match.  After all, everyone knows you should never pair a black bridle with a brown saddle!
I'm exaggerating, of course, but there is a tendency among certain hobbyists to over-emphasize the importance of perceived tack rules.  In truth, very few horse sports have extensive regulations regarding tack, and most real horse judges don't care if the bridle and saddle are different colors.  If the performance is good enough, they might not even notice!  
Matchy-matchy tack will always be in fashion, and there's no doubt that having everything "just so" adds to the visual appeal of a performance entry.  Still, I kind of love Paragon's mismatched show tack.    It reminds me that the best performing horse isn't always the best dressed horse.  If a combination of black and brown is good enough for the Pan Am Games, it ought to be just as ok at a model horse show.  Right?

11 comments:

  1. Considering Flick's stuff hasn't matched in years.... :D Personally, I LIKE the brown saddle look.

    And western saddle/bridle color rarely matches too - esp the reins.

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  2. Yes! I'm not saying real horse people are immune, but model horse folk are WAY TOO HUNG UP on the whole matchy matchy thing.

    Black dressage tack is a relatively new phenomenon. There was a time when black tack of any sort was considered inferior. The black dye was used to cover flaws that were obvious on a lighter saddle. I know that's changed now, but I also favor the brown saddle look.

    Most Western split reins are made of harness leather and most Western show bridles are not. They may be close, but it's not exact.

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  3. Someone just needs to grab that for documentation. =D

    One of the most loveable, neatest, love-at-first-meeting horses I ever met was a super nice Danish stallion (over in England), who was only exported because the Danes thought he was going to be too small. He shot up a bit late, so they probably wish they had kept him, but he was quite simply one of the most gorgeous headed and gorgeous tempered horses I've EVER met, and I've handled hundreds and hundreds of horses over the years, ponies, quarters, TBs, homebred and imported warmbloods, so I have a lot of comparisons.

    If I could only have figured out a way to sneak him home!

    Makes me want to have a nice Danish some day... must go buy lottery tickets now.

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  4. Uh, Teresa, western show bridles DO match the saddle. ALWAYS. The reins, as Jennifer says, are usually darker harness leather, and often don't match.

    Funny Jennifer would pick this topic...she is working on a newmarket tan bridle for me to match my new saddle because I have nothing in that color!

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  5. Actually, some Dale Chavez saddles turn pink in fluorescent lighting if left under long enough. Never did see a headstall do that ;-)

    But I was thinking of just the reins.

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  6. I alway appreciate reading your blog! It's the highlight of every day. Thanks for all the great reference photos and tips!

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  7. Hmm, that is interesting... I wonder why they didn't match the tack? You definitely don't see that very often, especially at that level of competition! While color of hardware is often overlooked in the real horse world, color of leather usually isn't. It is almost like it is a statement or they are trying to be different. Very interesting...

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  8. My personal favorite matchy-matchy model horse moments are when someone uses an arena trail setup and the doll, tack, saddlepad, obstacle, arena wall, poles, and flower pots all match perfectly. Seriously, what are the odds of a real arena trail entry negotiating an obstacle that all perfectly matches their tack and clothing?

    That said, I'm a fan of matching leather tack, regardless of color. For me a hodgepodge is strictly for the warm-up ring.

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  9. Blue Diamond, in my experience it's the higher levels of competition where people don't care about matching tack. (Unless someone is paying them to care.) They know they are being judged on merit, not appearance. It's kids on super-expensive horses finished by someone else who worry most about the details. Which they need to, because they are all alike as two peas.

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  10. I have a super light brown saddle and a black dressage bridle and I have never got any criticism...
    ~AHG488

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  11. I just love the look of a brown dressage saddle! It's too bad you don't see more of them out there

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