If you are bridle shopping, you’ve noticed there is a wide range of price tags. What makes one bridle worth more than another? After all, they all hold the bit, fasten around the horse’s head, and give you something to attach the reins to – right?? Hmmm…
While there are many factors that go into the value of a product, the raw materials are a fundamental consideration. In a bridle, the leather plays a critical role in the quality and value of the finished piece.
The purpose of bridle leather is threefold:
- It’s expected to look beautiful. That is, it must have good depth of color that changes over time and use, and it must be attractive to look at. It must age well and it must not have natural imperfections that weaken the leather.
- It is expected to be smooth, comfortable and flexible to handle. Since we’ll be using it for bridles, the leather must be comfortable for a horse to wear next to the skin. Therefore the treatment of the “flesh” side is as important as the “grain” side. The flesh side is typically worn next to the horses skin and must be smooth.
- It is expected to be both strong and durable. The rider’s life literally depends on the bridle leather not failing unexpectedly. It’s subjected to quite high loads of pressure and weight, and must tolerate this time after time. An item of saddlery is typically expected to last for 10 years, or more! So not only must it be strong, but it has to withstand poor weather, dirt, sweat, mud, water, and everything else a horse and rider may throw at it, for years and years.
All in all, bridle leather is pretty amazing stuff. The high quality, beautiful, strong leather we use in Vespucci will mature well and become more beautiful, full of character and tactile, as it ages. There aren’t many products produced now that get better with age, but good bridle leather is certainly one of them. 😏
Bridle leather that is vegetable tanned is dyed in drums in order to develop deep, consistent colors with waxes and tallows. After the dying process, the leather is then “hot stuffed” with pre-determined amounts of “spew” on the grain and flesh, giving it the signature feel. Upon completion, the leather will be stiff, though with the proper care and an ample amount of break-in time, it will become soft and supple with a lot of strength. Perfect for high quality bridlework.
Harness leather is a close relation to bridle leather, and is produced in much the same way. It is generally thicker than bridle leather. The strength of harness leather is most critical, and during the finishing process it is traditionally dipped into hot grease to ensure the core of the leather is very strong and flexible for its weight. Despite that, the finish of the harness leather is very much the same as bridle leather and it will not be greasy to touch. Harness leather is essentially bridle leather, but with the emphasis on strength.
VESPUCCI: US-SOURCED, ECO-FRIENDLY PRODUCTION
Vespucci bridles are made from high quality, vegetable-tanned, eco-friendly, US-sourced bridle leather, and they age beautifully. When this top quality leather is used to produce bridles designed by Peter Menet, you have a riding instrument unmatched by any other brand. Vespucci bridles will last many years – with proper care they increase in softness, richness and beauty. Truly an investment worthy of many happy years of riding, and of your equine athlete. 😀
See the full line of our Vespucci bridlework in our store.