Royal Sport Bridle Review
|The Wonder Pony has a new look!|
So when it came time to purchase a second bridle to use with the slow twist Dino is currently going in for stadium and XC at shows, I took a long time doing it. For weeks, I sussed out local consignment shops, trolled English Tack Trader on Facebook, scoured Ebay, and stalked my favorite online retailers for sales. I didn't want to spend more than $100, but I didn't want a piece of crap bridle, either. This is, I understand, basically an impossible bridle to find.
Enter Royal Sport.
Aimee did a review on these Indian-made bridles a while ago, and with a $70 sale price (including shipping!) I figured it was worth the gamble. They have LOTS of style choices that come in LOTS of colors, and knowing from Aimee's experience that the Cob size ran quite small (i.e. ideal for a large pony), I decided to pull the trigger. After all, if it didn't fit or was totally hideous I could always re-sell.
I was curious about trying Dino in a flash or figure-8 noseband, hoping that stabilizing the bit more in his mouth would help my half halts be more effective as he rolled merrily along on his forehand down a cross country track. Having never ridden him in anything more than a plain cavesson, however, I was hesitant to invest in something that might not work. I ended up choosing a monocrown "anatomic" style flash bridle with a totally removable flash. That way, if the flash for whatever reason didn't work for Dino, I had the option of taking it off entirely without having a stupid-looking loop on the noseband. I chose stainless hardware and the oakbark-colored leather with lighter padding, and just for kicks, decided to try the rubber reins. I'm not a fan of rubber reins on the whole, but at this price, I figured I might as well just go for it.
|Unimpressed with this photoshoot|
Yes, the leather did smell a little weird, but overall it's a solid piece of equipment. The leather is shockingly soft, and even straight out of the box it didn't have any stiffness or weird plasticy coating like you often see on cheap leather goods. The dye was even, the stitching was pretty tight, and the look was SHARP. Based on first impressions alone, I was very happy with the bridle and would 10/10 buy from Royal Sport again if I was looking for a stylish looking bridle on a very tight budget.
It also fits Dino pretty darn well. After much fiddling and adjusting, I got everything set and I think the bridle really looks good on him, and it has a much more "eventery" look to it than our other hunter-style bridle.
Things I really like about the Royal Sport bridle include:
- The color and style. I love Dino in more red toned leather vs. havana, the lighter padding is really sharp, and the bright white stitching adds some nice pizzaz. It's a classy-looking bridle.
- The super-soft padding. The padding on the underside of the noseband, browband, and crownpiece is EXTREMELY soft and squishy, and seems like it's very comfortable for the horse.
- The U-shaped, detachable flash. I LOVE that the flash can be taken off completely without leaving a loop hanging down off the noseband, and I think the U-shaped style looks really cool.
- The reins! I actually like these rubber reins! They're the perfect width and thickness for my hands and give me some extra grip without sacrificing flexibility or making me feel like I'm trying to keep a 2" thick slab of rubber between my fingers.
- The crank noseband is well-padded all the way around and the flash has a well-designed backing behind the buckle as well, making the noseband comfortable and soft against the horse. No pinching, no rubbing!
Things I'm not crazy about are:
- The leather quality. This bridle was downright floppy out of the box, and while that meant NO oiling, conditioning, or break-in time, it also means that it just won't last. The quality of the leather on the Royal Sport bridle doesn't even begin to compare to that on the Nunn Finer bridle that I've used on a daily basis for the last 7 years. The Nunn Finer is barely showing any wear at this point and will last me a good while longer before I need to think about replacing it. The Royal Sport I doubt will have that kind of longevity. The juncture between rubber & leather on the reins also looks and feels pretty cheap, like electrical tape instead of leather.
- Lack of care in sizing keepers & buckles to straps. The throatlatch straps just don't fit in the keepers, and were a struggle to get through the buckles themselves the first few times. I had to stretch out the keepers to even get close to fitting the straps through, and that's just annoying.
- So many buckles. While in theory I like the idea of a monocrown for horse comfort, and I LOVE the slip-through design of my NF monocrown bridle, this one has buckles on both sides for the throatlatch, and that's just a lot of stuff on my pony's dainty face.
Overall, if you're looking for a nice-looking bridle on a budget, I would recommend taking the gamble on Royal Sport. It's certainly not a high-quality piece of tack that will be with you for decades, but it gets the job done and looks good doing it. And for under $100 during one of their many sales, you just can't beat the price!