If any of you remember my confessional post all the way back in June about my tack snobbery, you might also remember that I went way off the rails and bought a beta halter and beta reins. I still don’t even know what beta really is… plastic? Rubber? Unicorn tears mixed with the rendered body of Gumby? Who the hell knows. But now that I’ve had the halter and reins for a few months I thought it was time to weigh in with an update.
The short version? I love both items. Like, a lot. Like way more than my super snobby tack ho heart ever imagined. I still have a really hard time admitting it because this makes me question everything I’ve ever known about life in general. Let’s back up and talk about what I bought and from where and how they’re performing.
I ordered a black and blue beta halter and brown and blue beta reins from Corner Stable Tack. There are lots of color options for the halters but navy isn’t one of them so royal was the next closest thing. It comes standard with an adjustable nose and throatlatch snap, but I paid $5 extra to upgrade the hardware from plated to stainless, bringing it to $45. You can also add a breakaway tab for $5. The reins have the exact same thin rubber grip as the Nunn Finer Soft Grip reins, which is why I bought them. With a colored grip they were $55 for horse size and come with buckle ends. The blue is pretty damn bright – again I wish they had navy, but since these reins are for my hacking/conditioning bridle, I don’t really care. And honestly… the bright-ass blue has kinda grown on me a bit…
The halter is really nicely made and I think the colors look nice. Bobby got a black and red one that also looks super sharp on Halo. I have no complaints about the halter and in fact, Henry’s super stubborn behind-the-ear fungus that I’ve been battling off and on for the better part of year has completely gone away since I switched to the beta halter. Magic (obviously that’s where the unicorn tears come in). It’s nice to not have to worry about conditioning and cleaning a leather halter, especially in the summer when you’re hosing the horses off every day.
I don’t use the reins as much, maybe once every week or two, since they’re on my hackamore bridle. When my next pair of reins die I think I’ll replace them with the regular black or brown beta, because I really love the grips on these. No one in the world is going to know they aren’t leather unless they come up and examine them, which would be creepy and weird.
So what’s the benefit of beta? So far I’d say the price and the ease of care. A leather version of my halter is more like $90-100, and the leather Nunn Finer version of the reins are about $90. The beta stuff basically runs about half price, plus has more color options and since it’s made to order they’re customizable by request. As far as cleaning goes, I’ve cleaned both things a grand total of once so far and literally just threw them in the wash. It was an oddly liberating feeling to throw tack in the wash.
Would I replace my whole fleet with Beta? No. I really love my nice leather bridles and breastplates and saddles. But I do see the benefits of replacing certain items with something cheaper and easier to care for. I’ve been pleased with both of my purchases, even if I still won’t say the word “beta” at anything more than a whisper.