As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I’ve spent the past few months testing out a few items from Lund Saddlery, a new tack brand. The owner of Lund contacted me a while back and was very clear in his mission for the brand: to produce quality tack at reasonable prices.
He had an obvious vision, for sure, and his enthusiasm about his products is undeniable. But we’ve all heard schpeils like that before, haven’t we? I was skeptical and decided to reserve judgment until I could get my hands on the items myself. He asked me to review some things, and I agreed, but warned him that I would be 100% honest in my reviews. He (and his team of riders that have helped develop the line) seemed undeterred.
The main leather Lund uses is Sedgwick, with Italian leather padding and backing. The hardware is stainless steel, and everything is made in the same factories as some other well known brands. I’ve had some Sedgwick tack before… for those who haven’t: it’s good quality, rugged, strong English leather. It takes a little longer to really get it nicely broken in and soft, but that’s because it lasts FOREVER. It’s the kind of stuff that seems to just get better with age and use. It’s not as thin and butter soft as French leather, but it’s obviously a lot more hardy. So if you’re looking for something durable (like something you could use for everyday and for showing), Sedgwick is a good choice. You definitely do not have to baby it.
One of the first items I received was the Lund 5 point breastplate. The retail price on this is $210 Canadian, or around $158 USD. My first impressions out of the box were 1) navy elastic, hell yeah. (#teamnavy) 2) the details were very well done. Maybe it’s my h/j background but I’m a sucker for fancy stitching and padding, they make things look so much, well… fancier. I immediately inspected the edges, the backing, the stitching, and the seams, looking for quality issues. Just because it’s relatively inexpensive doesn’t mean it should look cheap – I don’t want to see any loose, crooked, or uneven stitching, rough edges, leaking glue, uneven straps, fake sheepskin, thin elastic, or cheap hardware. Luckily I found none. Nary a stitch was out of place, the sheepskin was gorgeous, and the elastic was thick and multi-layered. So far, so good.
The Lund breastplates come with dee savers, which are really nice to have since I don’t like clipping things directly to my saddle dees. It also came with a clip on running martingale attachment, another nice “extra”, and gives you the feeling that they didn’t cut corners to save a few bucks in production. It drives me nuts when I get a breastplate (or any tack item) and it doesn’t have all the snaps or attachments that I want. Extra points for Lund for providing appropriate snaps and accessories.
Despite the popularity of the 5 point design among eventers, I’ve never actually used this style of breastplate before. It took a little bit of finagling to get it adjusted exactly how I wanted it, but once it was done, it was done, and I haven’t messed with the fit since then.
In application, the breastplate does it’s job admirably. As one would expect, it’s quite stable, and gives a nice feeling of security. I can see why people like this design for cross country… your saddle isn’t going anywhere, and even if something happened and one strap broke mid-round, you’d still have several more to keep things steady. The only thing I didn’t like was that for the first few rides (until it broke in and softened a bit) I could feel the leather strap under my boot. Mildly annoying, so I attacked it for a few days with Belvoir and that seemed to do the trick.
My only minor whine is the color of the leather – I am not Australian Nut’s #1 fan. I prefer a darker Havana, but I know that most of the h/j world (and probably many eventers as well) prefer the slightly lighter, redder tone. I’ve had a little luck darkening it so far, and having owned a Sedgwick bridle in this exact color before, I know that it will darken more with age. The color is fine as-is, I’m just a bigger fan of darker tack. Personal choice.
Overall I think this breastplate is a great piece of tack in it’s own right, and especially at the well below $200 price point. It’s light years better quality than the HDR 5 point, and I like it more than the Ovation, Nunn Finer, or Prestige 5 points (which are all more expensive) that I have seen, too. In the end it comes down to the details, and Lund really nails it in that respect. The fancy stitching, padding, and quality workmanship on the Lund put it solidly ahead of it’s competition.