Yay! Finally another Review Wednesday! Today, I am going over the Ovation Plain Raised QH Hunt Bridle with reins. With this review comes a new review category: Stuff That Wasn’t Up to Snuff. If I put a product in this section, it will be based mostly on my personal opinion that it wasn’t up to my standards, or didn’t perform the way it was advertised/supposed to perform. Let’s get started!
Initially out of the box I really liked it. I also loved that it wasn’t going to break to the bank, and that it came with 64″ reins which Amber needed. I loved that it was chocolate, and I loved that it was plain and without fancy stitching. My mom has had good luck with Ovation products in the past, and as I was starting my foray into English I wanted something that was also matchy with my new bling browband. The bridle was about $109 when I bought it in Full size, and it’s now gone up to $115, which I believe is still a very manageable price. I wrote a review for this product on Dover a week after I’d had it, which approximated to about 3-4 rides. I oiled it and took care of it, but I should have known that a few of things I commented that I wasn’t a fan of initially that they would become a deal breaker. So, let’s get into those deal breakers.
I was initially drawn to this bridle because it was breed specific. As stated on the website it is “designed with specific consideration for the conformation of the stock type Quarter Horse….It’s sized to allow for a wider jowl and broader forehead, but without a larger noseband. The browband, noseband and crown are padded for horse comfort.” For a QH, I think Amber actually has quite a hard-to-fit head. Either that or every single QH has a difficult head to fit and nobody knows because they’re mostly ridden western haha. But to get back to it, Amber has a very large brain space – as in she needs slightly bigger than a full for an anatomical bridle to fit her ears just right, and she can easily wear an oversize browband because a full browband isn’t long enough most times not to pinch her ears. She’s also a cob length-wise from the corner of her mouth to her ears. But she’s also got a much more curved jawline than most horses I’ve seen, so I prefer a full-size noseband to give her room.
The browband was absolutely perfect. I’d have kept it if I could have sold the bridle without it, but alas. Even though the browband was perfect, I felt that the bridle really didn’t allow for a wider jowl. I’ve seen plenty of jowls bigger than Amber’s, and hers isn’t even that big, but even a full-size throatlatch strap barely fit her. I had it on the very loosest hole and there wasn’t any room to make any other holes. So that part of the bridle didn’t fit her well. Interestingly enough, the cheek pieces fit more like a cob bridle, which fits Amber’s head well since it’s cob-length.
The noseband wasn’t changed, as stated in the product’s description, and this was the part that had me more concerned than others. Amber was transitioning from western to English, and I’d never put a noseband on her before. Perhaps this doesn’t seem as concerning to others as it did to me, but this was after I had read quite a few articles about nosebands – especially tight nosebands – causing tension and increased heart rate in horses. I didn’t think the noseband was going to be a problem though. I was thinking that full-size bridles still come with a good amount of leather, so she should be fine. But I could barely get the noseband on the second hole, and after only 5 minutes of riding I could tell that Amber was bothered by something. I loosened the noseband to the loosest hole, and she was much more comfortable after that. Because I could barely close the noseband, I found the 4 keepers on the noseband strap so cumbersome I ended up cutting one off. The strap with the 4 keepers also had padding on it, so that also cut down on noseband space I could use, though I can completely understand that the keepers were to keep a very slim look.
After two months, I kept looking at the bridle, wanting to take it to a leather maker to see if I could fix the noseband and take off the padding and then maybe I could live with the cheek strap being really small. But I finally gave up. At that point it wasn’t worth it to pay the money, and I just didn’t like the bridle anymore. After 3-4 months of use, I found someone who loved it and bought it from me.
Of the whole bridle package, I still have the reins. I actually use these a lot, and I don’t think I’ll get rid of them. I’ve been using them with Whisper since they’re long enough for her long neck, and I used them in the last 3 local shows for English/hunter day. The length is just perfect for the QHs. They aren’t my favorite strap good that I have – I do wish the leather was better quality, but they work very well for what I need them to do and they still hold up well.
Perhaps the bridle is more suited to the hunter QHs. They seem to have a more TB head structure (just look at Whisper) whereas Amber looks much more like the ranchy side of the QH breed. However, I still don’t think that should make that much of a difference in the bridle. I do think there are better quality leather goods out there for only a little bit more money than this one.
Unfortunately, this bridle made it into my “not up to snuff” category, but this doesn’t mean that in and of itself it isn’t a good bridle. This could be great bridle for someone else and work perfectly; I just didn’t like the way it fit my horse and I do wish that the leather was of better quality.