Bridle fit is as critical as saddle fit!
We talk a lot about saddle fit in the equestrian community, but in the past several years great strides have been made to improve the overall fit and comfort of your horses bridle. While some tried and true methods will never change, there are many brands out there developing innovative new bridles that change the way a horse carries himself. So when I had the opportunity to test ride the Tota Comfort Systems Daytona Jumper Bridle I was eager to see just how big of an impact it could make on my fussy, face sensitive horse.
The Test Subject
My 9 year old OTTB Joey has always been a bit challenging in the bridle and bit department. When I first started him in a traditional hunter bridle, he lacked respect for it and carried himself a bit like the traditional off the track TB – giraffe style. My maneuverability just wasn’t there and I constantly felt like I was fighting to earn his respect.
So we moved onward to a Figure 8 bridle, by recommendation of my coach which looked stunning on him, but it was apparent he hated that setup as well. Now rather than always keeping his head up, he would shoot it up any time contact was made (mind you, we had a bit that he really liked) and head towards the jump like a Mack truck. He also picked up on the awful habit of lifting his head out of reach when it came time to bridle him before a ride.
We continued to shuffle around trying some popular ergonomic bridles which he seemed to respect more, but not enough to have an equal amount of give as he did take. Joey is a very forward horse who goes best in a simple D-ring snaffle but hates any pressure on or near his face. Brushing, mane pulling, and bathing near his face are all a daunting chore.
When I first unboxed the Tota Comfort Daytona Bridle I was in awe. It was a beautifully crafted piece of tack with nice thick leather that was perfectly stitched and padded. The drive behind Tota Comfort Systems is their Tota Comfort noseband is clearly explained on their website:
“The Objective of the Tota Comfort Noseband is to eliminate the forward momentum of the bridle relieving poll pressure and changing the angle of the cheek pieces so as to bypass the TMJ joint and many of the delicate facial nerves along the horse’s face.”
The Daytona Jumper Bridle features the Tota Comfort Noseband as well as an ergonomically shaped poll relief mono crown design. There is a removable flash and it comes with very nice quality rubber reins with leather running martingale stops.
I am NOT one of those people who believe in miracle products. Whenever I agree to do a product review I always tell the company that I need a good month to test the product and see how my horse or I adjust to it over a period of time, but that wasn’t the case with this bridle.
Fitting it for the first time wasn’t rocket science, but it was a bit challenging. Thankfully the material that comes with the bridle is very self-explanatory and my Tota Comfort representative Michelle allowed me to take photos of Joey wearing it from every angle and text them to her for her professional opinion. Once it was on, it was stunning to look at. The bridle is obviously very high quality and molds to the horses face in an attractive manner. Then it was off to ride.
Immediately when I began to lead Joey by the reins I noticed a change in his demeanor. Typically he will toss his head a bit or fuss, but he just walked on. Chalking it up to a fluke, I led Joey out to the arena and hopped on for a casual hack around the ring. At a walk, trot, and canter Joey went around calmly and even began to drop his head in a relaxed manner. There was none of the usual fussing and head tossing/shaking and I felt him really sink into contact with the bit and become more pliable in my hands.
As I thought to myself that this was impossible, that there was no way a bridle could change my horse’s demeanor this much, Joey had a little spook at a nearby tree. This isn’t uncommon for Joey, but what happened next was. When Joey spooks, he shoots off and throws his head in the air evading all contact in a desperate attempt to get as far away as possible from what scared him. On this day, he shuffled to the side and began to prance but when I gently spoke to him and gave calm half halts of the reins, Joey came back to me and respected the bridle.
That is when I started to become a true believer in this bridle. With the only thing left to truly test, I cantered towards a small fence in hopes that this wasn’t all some dream made up in the back of my head.
Joey is a jumper and a somewhat typical OTTB. He loves to jump and begins to get excited about the jump a few strides out, pulling against my hands and launching us over the fence. It typically takes quite a few half halts and some choice words to get him to concentrate to my aids when we are jumping. Again, I was dumbfounded. In fact for a moment I considered the fact that maybe I had grabbed the wrong horse from the stall. There was no way that this bridle had changed my horse this much, but there we were cantering at a consistent pace, with great communication, and a beautiful jump.
Making a Believer Out of Me
The longer I have ridden in the Tota Comfort Systems Daytona bridle, the more apparent it becomes that the thought and time put into crafting this one of a kind system is worth the investment. You can purchase this bridle on Tota Comfort Systems website or through any Tota Comfort System representative for $599.95. Before you balk at that price, I am here to say that I have never in my life spent that much on a bridle but I would do it again and over again if I had to. As a horse lover and a competitor, I am a firm believer in the Tota Comfort design.
In an attempt to prove myself wrong, I slapped the bridle on a horse that is the polar opposite of Joey. This OTTB is a steady eddie type who is a stick and spurs type of ride and needs a little more encouragement to move forward, but despite their differences this horse went even better in the Daytona bridle than he did before it – just like Joey.
Everywhere we go, we get compliments on how attractive the Daytona bridle is and how it appears tailored to fit Joey. When I think about the yearlong battle with Joey over his head carriage and how quickly it was resolved once this bridle became part of our program, there is no doubt that the investment in this bridle is well worth it. With all of that being said, I could find no flaw in the Tota Comfort Systems design and give this fantastic jumper bridle a 5 out of 5 stars.
The complete bridles retail for between $499 – $625, and nosebands from $250-$375.
Get more information about the Tota Comfort Systems line of products here: Tota Comfort Systems website