I have a Bobby's for schooling and also one of the Smartpak's for schooling. I used to show in the Bobby's bridle and never got any strange looks. I also showed in the Smartpak once. They are perfectly fine and good quality.
I got a Vespucci that I really, really like for my mare with the refined head. It is not a fancy stitched so definitely different than what most people have. I have gotten several compliments on it though. It really flatters my mare. But, I got it on sale for less than $150. Spent another $165 on the matching martingale. I probably never would have paid the full price of $398 for the bridle!
My barnmates Edgewood is GORGEOUS. I absolutely love it but it would overpower my mare's head. If I was showing my big-headed mare, I would be saving my pennies for an Edgewood!
Same barnmate has a Arc de Triomphe (spelling?) and it is nice but not so nice that I would pay that much $$$ for it. I much prefer her Edgewood. The ADT isn't that much nicer than other less expensive bridles, IMHO.
I think it depends on a few factors: horse colour, head size and budget.
I really like the Aramas bridles as they are well made with good leather, but have a lower budget. I find them to be pretty much on par with the edgewoods, at a little over 1/2 the cost.
I love Hadfield bridles and have 2. However, not "soft"...they are made to last. Very classy looking though, and by far my favourite of the wide noseband styles.
Their tack takes a long time to darken though, so I dont recommend them for a black horse.
For a black horse, I suprisingly have really liked how the pessoa's oil up. With two coats of olive oil, my pessoa bridle (bargain bin!) is near black and looks great on my near black horse. The leather is quite good (not quite as nice as aramas), but for the price I paid very well worth it.
I hate Vespucci bridles because I have had a bad experience. I have seen some nice ones, but its very hit and miss on leather quality and craftmanship.
ADT bridles are lovely, and if you can find one at a sale price then go for it. I find their regular price a little high especially in comparison to Aramas bridles. They ARE lovely though...I just hate paying full price for one
I would recommend premieretackoutlet.com, they often have new and used bridles at discounted prices. Lots of high end bridles there.
Agree that it depends on budget, colour, head shape/size. I have a giant moose of a hunter, so he absolutely needs a wide noseband that is also padded. I have him in a 1 1/4" noseband (I think) right now, and it looks like a regular noseband would on a more normal sized horse. He is a chestnut, so he can get away with a range of colours.
My show bridle is a Red Barn Fusion, and it is gorgeous! Very nice leather and looks great! For schooling I have a Camelot wide noseband bridle, and while not butter soft french leather, it's pretty darn nice for <$100! I had a pretty limited range since I wanted padded, fancy stitched wide noseband and a monocrown.
ADT Tribute for a wide noseband. Also consider Edgewood or one of the other ADT bridles. I'm sorry, but I do think that ADT is nicer than Edgewood, although the Edgewood bridles I have are very soft and nice. I've not been happy with any of the bridles specific to Dover (Wellington, etc.). I also am not a huge Aramas fan--their bridles are just fine, but not my favorites. I love Five Star's leather and quality, but not their hunter styles. For a budget, get on Ebay and look for a used bridle from a nice brand, or take a look at the Smartpak bridles. I have been very happy with those. I have them for schooling but they are nice enough I'd be happy to show in one. I'm not a huge fan of KL Select/Red Barn, good but not great. So, all in all ADT is my fave.
I lean towards soft leather with finer nose/browband (sub 1") and 1/2" cheeks.
• $100-$200: SmartPak Harwich Fancy stitch
• $200-$300: Stubben 1700 or Courbette ultra fine
• $300-$450: ADT Imperial
Current show bridle is an ADT Gazelle. I do own all of the above and school in the Harwich.
I do NOT like Vespucci at all. Only some KL Selects are nice enough. I don't like anything that is plasticy or looks painted on. Not a fan of Bobbys. Edgewoods seem overpriced to me, haven't owned one.
I have an old Edgewood I use as a schooling bridle and Vespucci and Aramas for showing. I love the dark Aramas on my dark bay gelding and the Vespucci looks lovely on my chestnut mare with her refined TB head.
Depending on your size, you could score a great deal. At regular pricing, they are around $245 including fancy raised reins. I have had two, they are lovely bridles. Take oil very well, and soften like butter. They do run LARGE so if you have a thoroughbred, I would suggest a cob. Warmbloods will likely fit a full.
Interesting to hear. I was leaning towards an Edgewood, but the price and the wide noseband were bothering me. My guy has a more refined head and I'm worried that it would overpower his face.
I don't know why some of you are saying Edgewoods might be too overwhelming for your horsr's heads. Edgewood comes in more styles than probably any other bridle except Hadfields. Their raised unpadded bridle is a classic its very refined and narrow. And you might be surprised how attractive Edgewood's wide nose band looks on the smaller heads.