Not sure if y’all have noticed this or not, but Lund Saddlery strap goods have been reviewed almost exclusively by folks currently eventing … time for a hunter/jumper voice to be heard, perhaps?
It’s not just for eventers. I have been testing and using the Lund Snaffle Bridle (~$143 USD) and Laced Reins (~$75 USD) for a few months now.
I have been using it so much, in fact, that my other two bridles needed conditioning from sitting around doing nothing and getting a little bit dried out from the up & down weather. I have even been jumping Eli in the Lund Snaffle–that’s right, no flash, still tackling fences. Whether Eli is just at that point in his training of maximum comfort and confidence with the bit or that he specifically feels most comfortable in the Lund bridle, I can’t really tack that down. He’s a fussy weirdo, but does seem very comfortable in the Lund bridle. Features like an Italian leather padded monocrown, padded noseband, and reinforced reins might have something to do with that–I am positive the monocrown definitely does.
By now we are all familiar with other features characteristic of Lund Saddlery: white stitching, raised, padded and fancy stitched browbands and nosebands, raised and fancy stitched reins, sewn-on rein stops (thankfully!) and stainless steel hardware. While I’ll most likely not set foot in the hunter ring, I think the finishing touches on the Lund Snaffle make it natural fit for hunters and equitation. And of course you can’t go in the hunter ring with the wrong reins, so Lund offers laced reins in different lengths to accommodate your horse’s size. Eli is a fairly typical off-track Thoroughbred conformationally, so of course I have the Cob-size Snaffle bridle and the O/S laced reins (ha). The bridle is also so well priced for the quality that I think it would make a great all-around bridle for many riders whether they compete or not.
Both the bridle and reins are Sedgwick leather and will last a decade, perhaps more, but understandably breaking in can be a lengthy process for such durable leather. Especially with the laced reins, getting them soft, supple, yet still durable will take a little extra effort on your part. I want to share with you all the steps I took to break in the bridle and reins, and also darken the leather to the patina so prized in competition. To do this yourself, you’ll need Belvoir Leather Balsam and neatsfoot oil.
First, try on the bridle with the tags still on. If it doesn’t fit, DON’T oil it. Send it back and get a different size–I have more than once seen brand new bridles for sale secondhand because someone oiled before trying the bridle on their horse. Just thought I’d throw in this tip to save ya some grief.
Okay, now you know it fits–oil it before riding. No, definitely oil the bridle before you ride in it. You’ll run the risk of aging the leather well beyond its years otherwise.
Now that you’ve ridden in it and maybe even got it a bit sweaty, I am going to recommend something a little unorthodox. Don’t wipe it with glycerin soap. Oil it again with neatsfoot, and once the leather has absorbed the oil then condition it with the Belvoir. Do this every day you ride with the bridle for three weeks or so–longer if you only use it once or twice a week. The Sedgwick can take it. The Sedgwick WANTS it. The Belvoir conditioning will go a long way to darken the leather significantly. It darkened the Italian leather padding almost immediately. I have both early and current pictures of the bridle and reins in this post so you can see the difference.
Truly, I hadn’t started wiping down the bridle with glycerin or any other kind of tack soap until I had had it for a while. I just oiled and conditioned it almost daily. I wanted to keep both the durability and the suppleness, and I achieved that. No, if you get your horse lathered, obviously you’d want to wipe that much sweat off. But otherwise, stick with the oil and conditioner to break in Sedgwick. (There are lots of ways to break in bridles–I just used this method because it’s my preference.)
I now have a hunter ring ready bridle. Please don’t tell Eli’s auntie/massage therapist that, because she’s trying to get me in the hunter ring.