Leslie Wylie test-drives a bridle that speaks volumes with just a whisper.
The Venice Bridle by Horze. Photo courtesy of Horze.
I’m a detail-oriented person, especially when it comes to tack. It’s the little things that catch my attention — stitching, design, the finer points of craftsmanship that make the difference between good and great quality leatherwork.
Which probably explains my attraction to the Horze Venice Bridle. Horze offers an extensive selection of bridles, ranging from bling-y dressage attention-grabbers to conservative, George Morris-approved hunter standards. My personal tastes falls somewhere between the two extremes: unique but sophisticated, which I think sums up the Venice Bridle’s aesthetic perfectly.
Photo courtesy of Horze.
The first thing that jumped out at me was the classy white stitching that defines the edges of the noseband, browband and crown. It’s just enough to make the bridle stand out on the tack room bridle rack yet subtle and workmanlike enough in action to not take away from the main attraction: your horse’s beautiful head!
Every stitch = perfection. Photo by Leslie Wylie.
The silver stainless steel fittings add a touch of chrome that makes this rich chocolate-brown (also available in black) bridle pop. My horse’s bit arsenal is probably best likened to Carrie Bradshaw’s shoe collection — he’s a bit of a diva and requires one bit for schooling, another for horse shows, another for hacking, etc. The Venice’s buckles make switching out bits a snap. (Note: The keepers were a bit on the tight side but got easier to slide in and out of with a bit of oil.)
What bit suits your fancy today, Esprit? Photo by Leslie Wylie.
The leather itself is butter soft and supple out of the box and is of a quality comparable to bridles twice its price. My Swedish warmblood Esprit is something of a delicate flower and I can rest easy knowing the bridle’s pillowy padding will prevent his “fragile” face from pressure, pinches and rubs. Which, as my horse has reminded me on many occasions, is extremely important: if Esprit ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!
Design-wise, the Venice is one of the most forward thinking bridles on the market. Esprit’s sensitive poll doesn’t tolerate anything but a monocrown and this one is up to his standard: on the wider side, which helps distribute pressure over a larger surface, and generously cushioned.
Pillow-soft poll padding. Photo by Leslie Wylie.
I hate the term “crank noseband” — it just sounds a bit harsh, and I’m sure they can be when used without compassion. The Venice’s noseband technically qualifies as such, but once again, between the noseband’s padding (both over the nose and under the chin) and its width, you can feel good about keeping it a bit snug. It’s more of a nose “hug” than a “crank.”
I’m generally not a big fan of leather reins but these have my respect! They’re surprisingly soft and grippy; you almost don’t even need gloves. They’re also narrow and thin enough to feel comfortable in a woman’s hands, and the rein stops don’t function to stop your hands from sliding but simply help you keep them even — which is more than my rubber reins can say for themselves.
Photo by Leslie Wylie.
If you’re staunchly anti leather rein, the price point on this bridle ($79.95 direct from Horze.com, with free shipping for orders over $75!) is plenty low enough to invest in a different set.
As for fit, the Venice was a perfect match for my 16.2-hand warmblood, with plenty of budge room on either side. My only caution would be that the wide noseband (which I love!) might be a little overwhelming on a horse with very dainty, fine-boned features.
Horze is a company that has built its name on producing extremely high-quality items with remarkably down-to-earth price points, and the Venice Bridle is no exception. Available in Pony, Cob and Full/Horse sizes, you can check it out here.
“Z” difference is in “Z” details. The Photo by Leslie Wylie.