Whether you think it’s ugly or awesome, you really gotta see this. I have never in my life seen a bridle that was so meticulously designed. From top to bottom, it is definitely worthy of the term “engineered”. Gotta hand it to those Swedes.
First let’s talk features, then I’ll give some opinions. Fair warning: all I had to take pictures with was my crappy old iPhone, which seems to think that the only place in my house with suitable lighting is the guest bathroom, so it looks a little shinier and darker here than it really is. I’ll have nice pictures by the time I post a full review.
Crown: The crown looks really wide and padded, and well… it is. But it doesn’t swallow the head like I imagined it might. The padding is nice and thick and soft, I can see how the horse would find it very comfortable. The cutout design around the ears sits perfectly on Henry, you pull the bridle on and it settles nicely into place as if it was molded for his head. He’s got very sensitive skin and gets rubs even from his padded leather halter, so I personally am a fan of this feature.
Browband: I was really skeptical of the “swoopy” design of the browband, but luckily it actually looks pretty good on Henry. The swoop isn’t very severe, and the way it sits on his forehead is very ergonomic… once it was on him I understood why they designed it that way. It also has snaps on both sides so that you can easily remove it. They sell lots of fancy browbands so in theory you could switch back and forth if you wanted. The snaps are very easy to fasten/unfasten but hold really well. Super cool feature, I’ve never seen anything like it.
Cheeks/nose: The cheeks are curved and shaped to pass around the bones of the face. I love the fancy stitching and the padding, those details help give it the look and feel of a high dollar bridle. The noseband is the same general idea of the Micklem as far as not having any straps running over top of the teeth. The rolled parts and the flat part across the nose are easy to bend and mold to the horse’s particular nose shape.
Noseband strap: This basically looks like your standard bottom strap from a crank noseband, except instead of “cranking” it has a metal snap on the side for easier and quicker on/off. If you don’t like the snap you can remove it. I like that there is a roller buckle and plenty of padding under the jaw. I did change some things around on this, configuration wise, which I’ll talk about in a minute.
“Flash” strap: The strap that runs around the mouth under the bit is pretty straightforward. I really like that it buckles directly underneath the chin, instead of to one side or the other. It seems much less likely to pinch and also makes it a lot harder to over-tighten the flash. An interesting thing I noticed with the buckle here, as pictured above, is that instead of being sewn down like all the other buckles, this one has screws.
Cheekpiece/rein elastic: This is a feature I wasn’t expecting, and I didn’t even notice it until I put a bit on the bridle. In the hook ends of the cheekpieces and the reins there are little elastic inserts… two layers of heavy duty elastic that are sewn and glued together. The bit nestles on the elastic. I pulled on it REALLY freakin hard before I realized what it was, so I have to say it seems sturdy. And yet again I find myself saying that I’ve never seen anything quite like this. They do say that you can easily cut the elastic strips out or have a saddler remove them if you don’t like them, but my initial impression is that on my very sensitive fussy horse I kinda liked the feel. It seemed a little bit softer. We’ll see as time goes on, but for now it stays.
Reins: These are all of my favorite things rolled into one. They’re thin, they’re soft, they’re rubber lined, and they have stops. If you want GRIP, these are your reins. And since they’re so thin and soft, they feel really nice in your hands. No more bulky stiff rubber or web reins.
Rein stops: My bridle came with regular leather rein stops but since I don’t use a running martingale on Henry and probably never will, I took them off. However, PS of Sweden did send me a free pair of their snap-on stops, which are awesome. I’ll keep these in my trunk just in case I ever do need them. Gone are the days of trying to pull those damn rubber stops over rubber reins or buckles. Snap on, snap off. And so much prettier than rubber.
As far as design goes, this bridle hits it out of the park. For as cool as it looked online it’s way cooler in person. I got Cob size, which probably would not fit a horse any bigger than Henry… he’s on the lowest hole of the noseband.
There were a couple things I changed around.
First, the snap on the noseband was facing outward. I’m one of those people who cringes all the way to the depths of my soul when I see a full cheek bit without keepers, so it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that I just couldn’t let the snap stay facing out. My luck, the horse would rub it’s face on something and snap his face to it. So – I flipped it around to where the opening of the snap is facing inward, which I think is easier to fasten anyway. I also switched the whole chin strap around so that the snap is on the left, since that’s the side I bridle from.
Also, the excess flap of leather on the noseband kinda got in the way of the cheekpiece a little when I was riding, so I took a keeper that was originally in the bottom middle of the chin strap and moved it to the end so that the flap would stay tucked as close to the face as possible.
There are a couple of things I’m not 100% in love with, if I’m being really picky, but I’ll touch on those in the full review after I use it for a while. My first impression is that this is a really COOL bridle, very innovative and beautifully executed.