Plastic tack – the verdict

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…

IMG_3585
Henry still seems mortified

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.

Love the thin, flexible grips

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.

Bobby’s fancy red and black halter with matching lead rope

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.

26 thoughts on “Plastic tack – the verdict

  1. hmm after having to clean all my tack repeatedly from the monsoon i rode in at last week’s event perhaps i need to look into some beta tack. I would totally have used that instead of my PS sweden bridle last weekend. and if you (as a tack ho) is okay with it you know my lazy ass ness would be good with it 🙂 PS the Zaldi got drenched too. Side bar what is good to help condition a saddle after a torrential 2 hour downpour?? I feel the need to slather more on the Zaldi (and PS Sweden) after their ordeal 🙂

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    1. I think it depends on what you want them for. If you want beautiful show reins, get leather. If you want something easy to care for at home that will last a long time even with significant abuse and benign neglect, get beta.

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  2. I have two beta headstalls, two sets of reins and a breastcollar. Five minutes with the hose after a twenty mile ride and they sparkle like new. And I love the bright blue option.

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  3. Bright ass blue is my jam! (Henry’s rocking it btw)

    I have a Wintec bridle and saddle for hacking (well, the wintec saddle is what I currently jump in too, until I can afford to upgrade) and I gotta say – it’s really nice not having to worry about cleaning/conditioning them! I got them specifically because we have a pond we can ride to and my pony likes to try and roll in said pond, which is why I no longer trail ride in my dressage saddle. There is absolutely merit in the plastic tack for these kinds of everyday items that get scuzzy like halters and girths and reins.

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    1. Also I was never a particular fan of Wintecs cause I think they feel bulky, but practicality won out for me when I went looking for a saddle to jump in. And I think you mentioned that Bobby events in a Wintec, so I’m glad to see someone actually competing (successfully!) in theirs!

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  4. I’ve been using it on the racetrack for about 3 years. Started using a bridle made of Beta last year. Love the stuff. I too am a tack snob. A beautiful well maintained leather bridle is a sight to behold but it takes a lot of work to keep it there. But this stuff – Beta – is so much easier and it feels good to the hand and you’d be hard pressed to call it plastic because mine is soft and supple like leather. I’m a convert. The Standardbred guys have been using it for years and you know how much tack they use….There are several grades of beta though. I’ve seen really hind end stuff and low end stuff. Try to find the high end. The low end starts to crack after several years of sun exposure. That’s it’s only drawback – sun and bleach.
    I have all white; white halters and white bridles and it looks splendid. (I do have a watermelon coloured bridle that I’ve put away because it looks so odd; it’s fluorescent pink with green trim.)

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