Thanks everybody fornthe help! I like all of these bridle, including the Five Star brand - I think their stitching pattern is to die for :-)
I had no idea that the SP Wellfleet bridles were the same as Aramas, so I need to check those out. I have a Wellfleet leather halter thats pretty nice, so a good comparison.
The biggest problem is that I have been using my trainer Jimmy's bridle for a few months, so my expectations have been shot to a whole new level. Its hard to find a replacement for something thats so nice!
I've said this countless times on other threads, but I love my Aramas. It was affordable ($160 on ebay) and it looks great on my horse who has a fairly long, narrow head (needs a cob cavesson, but regular cheek pieces). It is amazingly soft and almost every time I put it on my horse, I sigh a little at how nice the leather is. I wish it wasn't mono-crown, but for how nice it is, I compromise. This horse was fairly hard to fit (the browband still isn't perfect) and to flatter, and this is the best bridle I've seen on him. In fact, I bought a second...just because...and some extra reins...because they were only $40 and I knew if I didn't, I would break my reins the next day.
This is the "chestnut" color of Aramas which darkened nicely. This is probably redder than I would want on a dark bay, but they have a lovely havanna available as well.
I have had Ovation bridles and a Red Barn, and the Aramas is head and shoulders above. I'm sure there are other bridles that are nicer, but for the price, I don't know if the Aramas can be beat. If it's true that the Wellfleet is basically the same bridle, it might be worth a try.
"I am witty. Ask around." --Pat, COTH
Is New Cavalry considered a beast of the past? I see they have a website for tack still. This bridle is 22 yrs. old and I love, love, love it! Padded, square raised. Not sure how the quality of these bridles compares to back then, but I know I will be heartbroken if I have to ever replace it.
I have the chocolate aramas wide noiseband bridle and like the other poster said the leather is like butter. I thought I wouldn't like the darker color because I like more havana colored leather but it looks great on my horse. They do run big so you may need to get a size smaller. But I can't be more happier with it. If you do like the jimmys stuff Ann Hubbards does carry their own line of bridles that are pretty close to thoses.
I want to be like Barbie because that bitch has everything!
I also have an Aramas I got off of TOTD. I LOVE it for the quality of the leather for the price. I've had Ovation as well, and did not like it at all. I also have a Beval Heritage I got WAY cheap, which is the only reason I bought it. Of course there is a difference between the Aramas and Beval, but not as much as you would think!
Some days the best thing about my job is that the chair spins.
Ok...so I am having a tough time making up my mind. The Aramas is in my price range, the ADT and Five Stars are in my wish range.
I was checking out the Just Bridles website. Does anyone have an opinion on the Americana bridle that JB has? Its made by the same peeps who make the Aramas bridle. I like the softness of that noseband more so than others.
Americana is a "step down" from Aramas in terms of quality but honestly I can barely tell the difference when I have both new, side by side. Taken home and broken in, I think you'd be happy with either. The difference is more in the finish details than leather quality.
So, I finally made up my mind and bought the Americana bridle. It was a tough decission between it and the Aramas, and the deciding factor was that I liked the wide, round noseband of the Americana better. It came yesterday and it is a really nice bridle! Soft leather, even color and beautiful stiching. It's a Christmas gift so I technically can't use it for 2 more weeks, but touching it was a necessity to make sure it was what I was looking for.
And I want to give a shout out to Just Bridles! They have great communication and they packaged the bridle beautifully - not just thrown in the box in plastic. Each piece was individually wrapped in tissue paper and in its own plastic bag. I would highly recommend them.
Good to hear! Even though I love the Pessoa wide noseband (and was tempted by the Aramas), I just purchased a Bobby's for a steal. Have had good luck with them in the past, but haven't ever seen their wide noseband in person. If I dislike it, I'll probably end up with the Americana as well.