Best Bridle for Future Hunter? +Bit recs?

Though I’m certainly a long way off from entering a show ring of any sort, I would certainly like to dabble in some silly little hunter on the flat classes locally. I’ve been looking for a bridle that’s within my budget (<$150) but also padded, fancy stitch, and with an anatomic crown. Ovation is the only brand I’ve seen that fits the bill.

My 15 yo 15.1 grulla QH mare has a short head, so the only bridles she fits in are cob size. The Ovation bridle I like that’s in a good price range has a wide noseband. What are your thoughts on wide nosebands in the hunter ring, especially on a shorter (not necessarily more petite) head?


I’ve also looked for D ring bits for my mare. She hates nutcracker action in her mouth with the current bit; if I’m very soft with my hands (i.e. no contact at all), she’s fine, but I’d rather find a bit I could maintain contact and be comfy. However, I fear that if she had a plain Mullen, she’d lose her breaks. Any thoughts on these two bits I’m considering? One is a Herm Sprenger loose ring (so not overly useful outside of schooling) and the other a Myler ported. Both are quite expensive. Any other suggestions for bits are welcome. She’s a chewer at the moment, so happy mouth type bits are not really an option.



Thank you in advance!

Just try a french link first before you go fancy on the bit. They are under $30 but I would try to borrow if you can.

I personally love the Joseph Sterling bridles from Best value, way nicer leather than Ovation and in your price range.

I’ll definitely into purchasing a Joseph Sterling! Leather quality is something I’m quite concerned about, so thank you for bringing that up. I’ll also look into obtaining a French link and see how she handles that.

Thanks! :slight_smile:

I own a tack shop and am very impressed with ovation bridles for the price point. For the price your paying the leather is very nice as well as the padding, hardware, and stitching.
I agree your best bet is a french link. Good luck!

I love Ovation bridles and have one that is going strong after six plus years. The leather is sturdy but good quality and it is very much preferred by my horse for comfort.

My first thought was also the French link D ring for a bit.

Are Ovations made by Harmon Kraft?

The JS are Sedgwick leather. I have one I bought in 1993! I would show in it, looks that good. I just bought a breastplate and it is equally beautiful.

I think for now I’ll save up for a JS bridle purely for shows. The extra long reins and the thinner nosebands are appealing, and I’m glad to hear the leather is nice quality. The Ovation bridles have very few reviews on sites to purchase them, and the thinner noseband models cost more from Ovation. Perhaps in the future I’ll look into an Ovation bridle, at least for schooling.

I don’t think Harmon Kraft makes the Ovations, no. I saw no links between the two and Ovation seems to be an independent company. I could most certainly be wrong though!

Now, looking at these bridles, one last question I have is should I invest in the fancy stitch reins or get the bridle with the plain? A reviewer mentioned the fancy stitch draped better than plain, but for silly local shows do you think that much matters? Thank you all for the help! I really appreciate it! :slight_smile:

Personally, I"m not a fan of raised reins as I think it makes it harder to “feel” the horse’s mouth, but that’s a personal thing. I don’t think there’s enough of a difference in look to make any difference.

I have been happy with Ovations.

Don’t know what she has left, but Just Bridles is liquidating and had some awesome deals. If you follow the links you will eventually get to a spreadsheet that was updated recently.

There are several Bobby’s models in your price range.

I have had very good luck with them. They oil up beautifully and look sharp in the show ring.

As to your question about wide nosebands, they are very fashionable now, so don’t hestitate if you find a wide-nose bridle you like. On the other hand, a thinner noseband is also perfectly appropriate.

I would think twice on the extra long reins for a smaller horse. Those JS bridles are nice, but they are marketed to AQHA hunter riders who ride with a very loose rein and encourage the those tall appendix horses to stretch down. The look is very different, and you might have way too much rein if you are riding a cob on normal contact. I think you can get some of the JS models with regular reins; that’s what I’d go for.

As for raised reins, I have several pair and like the look, but you’re right: they don’t drape quite as well as flat reins. You just have to decide whether or not that’s important to you.

Hunter Mom: That’s good to know, thank you. I’ll be happy to start out with flat, and I’m glad to know there’s no rules about it. I think I’m getting a little too ambitious all at once and need to slow it down!

Peggy: Thank you for alerting me to the sale! I put in an order for a bridle bag but everything else was either not her size or not hunters. Dang! :lol: But for now, I’m more than happy with a bridle bag for cheap. Good to hear another positive review about Ovation.

Dewey: I have heard good things about Bobby’s bridles. I’ll certainly consider that as well. The noseband bit is nice to know! Wide certainly is in fashion now, and I guess the major things that caused me to shy away from them were hundreds of examples of hunters in thin nosebands and a couple blog posts I read millennia ago complaining about the oh-so-hideous wide nosebands. Of course, if we listened to every equestrian’s gripe about something, I wonder if we’d have tack at all :lol: I personally quite like the look of them! I suppose I just need to put my schooling bridle on her and do some judging.

As for the rein thing, I think you’re completely right. I’ve only ridden in her English bridle/reins once (thanks, winter + vet issues), and it wasn’t nearly long enough to memorize the rein feel. The reason I was thinking the extra long was due to the infuriatingly short western paracord/nylon reins I’ve ridden in for my entire horse experience. They have certainly left a mark on me :nonchalance: Pepper has a long neck and for the life of her can’t seem to lift her head above her withers when she walks. Perhaps the solution is teaching her contact and building muscle instead of getting longer reins. Everything about her yells western pleasure, but I can’t say that’s a discipline I’d want to get into, hahaha. Ahh.

The D rings on the Mylers are quite large. Although I have one that fit a cob sized head, it was a custom order. I’d start with a french link or lozenge type D for cheap and see how that goes.

I’ve never noticed a difference in feel or drape with raised reins that were properly conditioned and broken in. It’s not like your hands are anywhere close to the fancy part.

Ovations are not made by Harmohn Kraft, they are separate companies. Harmohn Kraft makes the Americana and Aramas bridles though.

I love them, but I wouldn’t do a wide noseband on a shorter face. I feel like it would make the face look even shorter?

Not a fan of Herm Sprenger or Myler, myself. I like a good old “plain” JP Korsteel bit or other such “standard” bit.
I’d try an Eggbutt Lozenge curved bit for your mare. Removes the nutcracker effect and is shaped better to the mouth.

IPEsq: That’s good to know. I’d rather not have the massive d’s. I’ll tuck that information away for future buys.

mmeqcenter: That was my thought exactly, especially because while her face is short, it’s not exactly feminine. She may end up looking a bit… “porky”? If that’s the word? Haha.

That bit looks excellent! All the D ring French link bits I’ve seen are very thin. I’d be happy to use this. She’s had some horrible dental issues in the past (and present, cough) so I’d like to take it easy on the gal. We’ll see how she performs once Spring rolls around. I’m excited to find out what will make her happy.

Yes I love this bit, my mare goes quite well in it and she is a fussy bee. It’s fat but not too fat.
Good luck, I’d love to see updates when you work it out! Dental issues sure can be tough.

Thanks so much for the help! The issue with Pepper’s teeth was that she must have sustained some kind of blunt trauma that end with her having two loose, inflamed teeth.

LONNGGG story short We had a vet pull the first (after Pepper lived with neglected AND damaged teeth; she hadn’t been floated in who knows how long) and, about a year later (and about… a month ago??), Pepper tied up (PSSM like symptoms) and lost a couple hundred pounds in about three weeks. I got a different vet and she was appalled the previous vet left the second tooth in. She tried to remove it, it wouldn’t budge, so she sent her home. THEN Pepper stopped eating. Back to the vet’s she went. Tooth finally got pulled and now Pepper’s on her way to recovery.

The fact she lived for years with severe pain and neglect in her mouth paints a better picture of why she’s so sensitive to nosebands and why she HATED having her mouth messed with. But she still remained calm and people loving the entire time, even when she was hurting. Horses always amaze me at their capacity to forgive. MOST horses anyway. I have another mare that’s full of spite no matter the situation :lol:

Oh my goodness, poor thing! I’m glad you got her teethsies worked out and she’s on the mend.