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Extreme makeover: Draft Bridle edition

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  • Extreme makeover: Draft Bridle edition

    I'd love to get people's opinions and advice about a turnout upgrade I'd like to make concerning my horse's bridle. He is an 18 hand Shire cross with a big blaze, very big/long forelock, slightly roman nose and smallish eyes. He's the apple of my eye.

    He does light commercial carriage work and I use a breastcollar harness. The bridle which came with his harness is a draft show style bridle with chrome diamonds on the blinders, a big honkin' chrome flash on the noseband (noseband does not encircle face- but just supports blinders from the bridge of the nose) and a big flapper of a teardrop with the obligatory draft stye horse head in a horseshoe harness brass which is sewn in to the connection of the blinder stays.

    What I like about the bridle:
    It fits his big old head.
    The crownpiece is slightly cutaway so it makes more room for his ears.
    The chain browband isn't bad. (I've lately taken to braiding his forelock and tying off to the side at one rosette.)
    The blinders are a good shape, slightly cupped, and a good square size (not mudflaps)

    What I hate about it:
    I think it makes my horse look like this or this
    really...if you don't believe me...

    I don't like the way the nose bridge band hits HIGHER than the midpoint of his face- so there is all this action (browband dangly bling forelock blinders noseband eyes) all in the top half- and then you have to drive about 1/2 mile to get to a nostril.

    I also HATE the artistic fauxpas of putting a picture of a thing on a thing... like a woman wearing a t shirt with a picture of a female movie star... or painting a mural of a van on a highway- on a van... it's the fingernails on a chalkboard of my pet peeves- I don't need to decorate my horse with a picture of another horse. I mean- what's that all about- was I scared you might mistake him for a moose?

    My horse has a three foot long swath of natural chrome running up his face- I don't need more...especially not perpendicular to the other chrome- and sitting right at the apex of the curve of his roman nose.

    What I want is a handsome coachhorse style elegant utilitarian bridle. I am afraid I may have to have this custom made because when you click the harness shops online as soon as you get to the draft sizes- you get draft styling, tons of dots and the obligatory horsehead in a horseshoe... or the upside down Y brace. I'd like a full circle noseband in the lower 1/3 of my horse's face, and patent leather blinders.

    Does this sound like a plan? Would it be the stylistic improvement I'm hoping for? Have you seen one of these for sale anywhere- or do you maybe even have one for sale?

  • #2
    Have you looked at this site? They make draft and what they call "carriage" harness.
    Maybe they could make you the carriage style in the draft size?


    I have them bookmarked because I want to get some "fun" browbands for the marathon and I liked the one they had pictured.
    Kanoe Godby
    See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.


    • Original Poster

      I like what I see at this link- thanks for the tip. I have no doubt that they could custom make just what I want... I am a little unsure if I would be able to afford it- but I'll ask them!


      • #4
        I received an email back from Shanahan about my brow band inquiry.
        They are $110, a bit out of my budget for fun marathon tack!
        Kanoe Godby
        See, I was raised by wolves and am really behind the 8-ball on diplomatic issue resolution.


        • #5
          Have a carriage type bridle built for your horse at a harness maker.

          Becky Zimmerman in Ephrata PA does a nice job and has done some reasonable priced customized harness bits for us. We have draft crosses which get difficult as some we need horse sized cheek pieces and draft crown, browband and throatlatch. No problem, no extra charge. She made our current bridles with the cut back ear area and will do patent if you like (we prefer no patent - no problem either way).

          Might want to take a look at other horse brasses available out there. There are some really cool ones available on e-bay. That said, with a flashy horse you really don't need anything. We got our bridles without even a face drop.

          Becky's address

          Zimmerman harness
          601 Snapper Drive
          Ephrata, PA 17522

          There are other harness makers who will similarly customize your bridle to what you want at not that much more than 'off the shelf'

          I was going to tell you to look at ebay for harness brasses because there are some really cool ones, but apparently they aren't being sold on e-bay at the moment.

          But here are some pics off google




          and just for fun someone who got completely out of control with the horse brasses



          Now THAT ought to draw some attention to your carriage!


          • #6
            Wow! Drive NJ, you should WARN people to have their sunglasses on for those links!!

            I have never seen such decorated equines with the "full brass turnout" before. That is just amazing. I expect they use the Drafts because they have wide backs for more metal, and the sturdy legs to hold that load up! Probably equals a knight in shining armor with the weight!!

            Thanks for those photos, never saw such amazing decoration before. WOW hardly covers it!!


            • #7
              I drive Clydesdales and also do not like the look of the traditional draft bridle. Also, I started doing driving events that operate under ADS rules, which require a full caveson which my draft bridle did not have. I purchased a nice-looking PLAIN and elegant bridle from Ideal Harness. The size is called "Shire" (which I did not tell the Clydesdales!) and the fit is nice and it looks really nice. I have two of them in black leather.


              • Original Poster

                Thanks guys for the additional links- Of course Ideal harness doesn't have photos of the shire size on their website- I was in their trailer at the National Drive- and like their stuff in general.

                I'm going to try contacting Becky Zimmerman.

                I am a big fan of harness brasses in general- but the good ones are made in brass- and of course my harness is chrome.

                There is a harness brass design I'd like to have custom made one day when I can do such a thing- my horse's name is Sprocket- and I'd like to take a small gear from a bicycle freewheel- and combine it with the Superman "S" shield logo. I think that from a distance it would have the traditional geometic sunburst look of many of the traditional brasses- but secretly would be my own little Steampunk Comic Edge talisman.


                • Original Poster

                  Oh- Goodhors- I wanted to share the photography of Tony Golding with you-
                  He is a big fan of Shire horses and driving horses- and I love his work- I think because he approaches it like an artist not like a standard horse show photographer- he really likes to capture candid moments between horse and handler.

                  Here are search results from his photostream including brass:

                  and here is a set from a shire show