Reviews: The Battle of the Breastplate

I might have a little bit of a breastplate hoarding problem. I really like the added stability that a breastplate gives and consider it to be pretty standard attire especially for a jumper or eventer. I’ve had a lot of different styles and brands over the years, but currently I’m down to these three:

Five Star Tack Signature breastplate – $280

PS of Sweden High Five breastplate – $180 (list price $195, subtract VAT, add shipping)

Ovation Sheepskin Padded Elastic Breastplate – $100ish

At first glance this might not seem like a fair competition, considering the difference in price ranges of each of the contenders and the slightly different styles. But IMO those things are what really make it the perfect way to compare and contrast the different features of each and see which one comes out on top. Granted, breastplates seem like one of things where everyone has different reasons for liking what they like, so these are my personal opinions of each one.

Ovation Sheepskin Padded Elastic breastplate

I’ll be honest, I bought this breastplate specifically because it was the best quality of the “cheap” (ie not Antares) breastplates with navy elastic. It was a 100% superficial purchase. That said, I’ve been fairly happy with Ovation strapgoods in the past and thought it looked sharp, and managed to nab it for a good price barely used.

The quality of the leather is good for something in this price range, as is the elastic. The stitching is tight and even. It doesn’t come with the little snaps to hook it to the saddle dees, which I find slightly irritating when buying any breastplate. SNAPS, it needs to come with snaps! Despite the little white stripes on the elastic I really haven’t had a problem keeping it clean – the navy seems to be good at hiding the dirt. I only have a few complaints with it: 1) The sheepskin is impossible to keep clean in the summer 2) the length of the strap to the girth is waaaaay long. 3) There’s no snap on the girth attachment and although the conway buckle does allow for one to be easily added, since the strap is so long, adding a snap to it just compounds the problem.

I know that the sheepskin on the chest part of this breastplate is meant to be a main feature, but IMO all sheepskin needs to be removeable. I stopped using this breastplate in the summer because it was constantly soaked with sweat and caked with grime, and became a PITA to clean. As for the girth strap, I’m not sure what kind of gargantuanly uniboob’ed creature it’s meant to fit or just how far back they think the girth sits, but I’ve got a whole lot of extra strap there. I had to punch a hole way farther up the the strap, and even then it’s still long. In general the horse size is a bit big on my 16.1h TB, although the girth strap is the only part that is just too big. Despite those things, for the price I think it’s a nice looking, good quality basic breastplate, albeit with room for improvement.

Five Star Tack Signature Breastplate

Design wise, the Five Star is very similar to the Ovation. It’s also a three point, but it has a removeable strap that runs across the top of the wither. In theory I love that strap… something to grab if things ever start to go really wrong! In execution I hate that strap with every fiber of my being. It has hook stud closures on the top, which is what makes it removeable, and my reins constantly get caught on them. The wither strap also means that you have to unhook the crossties and slip the breastplate over the horse’s head to put it on. I like it better in all regards with the wither strap removed, but then there goes the whole perk of having it there in the first place. The straps that hook to the saddle dees also seem really long, I have a lot of excess leather flapping around down there (yet another thing for your reins to get stuck on).

The leather is nice quality English leather and it seems very well made. Unfortunately I have a really hard time keeping the elastic looking clean, though. The brown really shows sweat and the light blue really shows dirt, so together they require pretty constant cleaning. The fit of this breastplate (in cob size) is better than the Ovation, especially the strap that runs to the girth, although it’s borderline too short for him in the shoulder. There also isn’t a girth snap on this one either, and because it has a regular buckle instead of a Conway buckle, I can’t simply add a snap myself. My delicate flower also somehow managed to get a rub at the center of his chest from the leather backing of the O-ring, which is stiff and thick.

Overall this is a beautiful breastplate but there are a lot of things in the basic design that could have been done differently to make it easier and more practical to use. I don’t find it very easy to live with.

PS of Sweden High Five breastplate

When the 5-point craze started I staunchly resisted, not liking the look or really understanding what the point was. But when I saw the High Five I was instantly intrigued. It looked different from all the other 5-points I had seen, and initially I couldn’t tell if I loved it or hated it. It’s no secret that I love PS of Sweden as a company, love their designs, and think they’re the most innovative tack company on the market. But that doesn’t mean I blindly love everything they make – sometimes I have to be convinced.

After a few months of looking at the High Five my curiosity reigned supreme and I decided what the hell – let’s see what all the fuss is about with these 5 points. I got the cob size and spent the first several minutes playing around with all the straps to get the fit right – it’s so adjustable. To my minimalist eye it looked like a lot of leather at first. However it’s really well padded, really well designed, great quality, and sits pretty perfectly on my horse. Initially I had some reservations about the strap running over the shoulder (the main reason I’ve never bought a 5 point before), worrying that it would be restrictive, but I have seen none of that in actual application. Henry gallops and jumps just like normal with no signs of being restricted or rubbed or bothered at all.

I love how stable this design is – I feel like just about anything could happen and my saddle isn’t gonna move. I especially love the fit, and the fact that there is a girth snap (praise jesus finally!), and that there’s no sheepskin to keep clean. The elastic is a narrow dark strap that only directly touches the horse for a few inches, so keeping it clean is easy. Usually I just take a damp rag and wipe any sweat and hair and grime off the padded leather and leave it at that – it’s the lowest maintenance of all my breastplates. Slowly but surely the High Five has won me over and brought me to the 5-point side. I would be very curious to try PS of Sweden’s 3-point design too, which is the only type I haven’t tried, although I um… should probably get rid of some of my other breastplates first.

My only complaint with a 5 point design is that since it has the straps that loop over the girth (which are what make it a 5-point and contribute greatly to its stability) it’s not as easy as snap-snap-snap and it’s on. I’m lazy, I like snap-snap-snap. That’s going to be true of any 5-point design though, it requires a little more effort to get on. I do greatly appreciate that the PS version comes with the dee snaps and a girth snap, so the only thing I have to do is put the girth elastic through the loops. Usually if I’m jumping or riding out I put on the High Five, and if I’m just plodding around I put on the Ovation. Until summer anyway, when the Ovation will go on vacation because of it’s sheepskin. The Five Star lives a lonely solitary life in my trunk.

So how do they fair in the battle?

Winner

Runner Up

Womp-womp

25 thoughts on “Reviews: The Battle of the Breastplate

  1. i am willing to take the ps sweden one off your hands 🙂 I still have the 3 point in my cart on PS Sweden site. Havent clicked to buy yet but veryyyyyyyyyyyyy intrigued by it. the other two you have look good to.

    With a wideeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee QH A breastplate is a must for me. I have a Nunn Finer one now that is perfectly acceptable but doesn’t wow me and doesnt fit the best.

    Hmm i might need enabling…..

    Like

  2. I’ve been obsessed with the Five Star breastplate b/c light blue is one of my colors. Sad it’s so hard to keep clean. I guess I’d have to reserve it for a show breastplate, if I were ever to bite the bullet…

    Current breastplate is from Royal Sport so anything would be an upgrade 😛

    Like

  3. The PS certainly is pretty – and it’s lovely to hear about a company that is actually thinking about the things we (their consumers) care about! I keep eyeballing the pictures of Henry to decide if it would look weird on my skinny shouldered red mare…

    I’ve been eyeballing a Tory hunting plate in part because it has a snap at the wither strap so you don’t have to untie or uncrosstie your horse – plus you could unsnap there, at the girth and pull the saddle/everything off in one go which would be nice when you have a hot horse coming off XC that you want to keep walking or get to a hose. I added replaceable halter snaps from Schneider’s to my current breastplate and martingale (which don’t have magical conway buckles) so I can snap them on to my super wide girth that has a stupid buckled strap you’re supposed to put the loop through instead of sliding around the girth.

    Like

  4. The PS breastplate is lovely. I wanted to try a 3 point elastic so I just purchased a cheap one from SmartPak. It was something like $45, but it’s held up very well so far and the leather is pretty soft for a chap breastplate. When it dies, I will probably upgrade to the Harwich, mostly because I like the pretty blue elastic. 🙂

    Like

  5. I have a cheap-o elastic, a Pessoa with a little elastic, an HDR five point, and then my PS breastplate! I kind of love them all, but I believe I love the PS more. It is just so fun and my clinician looked at it right away and oogled at it’s prettiness. Also, it makes me feel like a badass.

    Like

  6. Everyone knows you can add on snaps to a lot of breastplates..right?

    I used to use one when I had a horse we used a standing martingale on in the show ring. Just had a clip attachment for the martingale strap. She didn’t stand the best between classes, so doing that was so much easier than removing a martingale (and thus having to remove the saddle). I want one again for hunter paces..

    Like

    1. If you read the whole post I explained which ones I could (and did) add snaps to vs which ones I couldn’t. Really though, they all should at least come with the saddle dee snaps, I find it irritating when they don’t.

      Like

      1. I saw you mentioning it; was referring to other commentary. I’ve never seen the ones that you can’t slip buckles onto to be honest. And I agree completely that they should come with saddle snaps. Especially when they have thicker leather; snaps just add better fit in my opinion.

        Like

  7. Big fan of snaps here. Also intrigued by the PS 3 point and wouldn’t mind having their five point again. I need horse size for sure though. I only have two breastplates right now and I don’t have a hard limit on how many of those I can own, right?

    Like

  8. I really wish I felt the need for a breastplate because I absolutely love the way they look. Maybe if we did more than a walk/baby trot?! One day!

    Like

  9. i have a cute elastic breastplate bought used (can’t remember what type) but almost never put it on the horse bc if anything, our saddle is more likely to pull up onto her shoulders rather than slip back (guess that’s a problem with short-backed horses?). so we don’t play dress up too often haha

    Like

  10. I read this review a few days ago when contemplating the High 5. Your review really helped me decide to hold off on a new breastplate until I can afford the High 5. Which might involve selling a kidney, but eventually…

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s