The Elite Picassi and Prestige Benz — two lovely options that also are nicely priced.
In my continual quest to find the most *perfect* tack for my spoiled rotten, mostly ungrateful quadrupeds, I have recently found myself down the anatomic bridle rabbit hole. A few years ago, I randomly tried Schockemohle’s Equitus Alpha Bridle on Wilson. He seemed to like it better than his double (go figure), and so I did what every equestrian does—I bought one (or, actually, maybe two).
While there’s a lot about the bridle that I like, it has one particularly damning feature — the posts that keep the bit attached have an unfortunate tendency to bend downward over time until gravity eventually gets you and the bit just falls off. I discovered this charming bit of information at a Kathleen Raine clinic; fortunately, Will is a gentleman and always game for a walk break. Being hardheaded as I am, I tried with a second bridle only to have the same issue. So, with that in mind, I went searching for other options.
While the original Micklem is generally effective (and has no known tendency to eject the bit at unfortunate moments), I admittedly didn’t love the look for the dressage ring. My internet searching ultimately lead me to two interesting options: The Elite Picassi bridle and the Prestige Benz bridle. Both bridles are made by Ice Equestrian and are found exclusively at Equiluxe here in the states. As they were at slightly different price points and each offered a distinct fit, I decided to try them both.
As per the website, both bridles have comfort padded, anatomic crown pieces, snap clip browbands for ease of changing, and multiple adjustment points to ensure a correct fit.
The Elite Picassi bridle is the higher end of the two, also boasting Italian leather, contoured stainless-steel polished buckles, and an elegantly shaped noseband with white padding.
The Prestige Benz has nicely padded cheek pieces, rose gold padding, rose-colored stainless-steel buckles, and a more traditional anatomic noseband.
I must start by saying that, out of the box, I was impressed with the quality of the leather on both bridles. I would say that they are, at the very least, on par with or better than my PS of Sweden and Schockemohle.
Both bridles also came with fabulously sparkly browbands that have a convenient snap system. This easily allows you to remove the browband to change it out without turning your bridle into the equestrian equivalent of a Rubik’s cube. PS of Sweden has a similar system — and I loved the idea of it — but I always had difficulty getting it to stay snapped shut. Both of these browbands were easy to open and close and neither ever came undone while riding.
Because the Elite was most like Wilson’s current bridle, I decided to test it on him and let Milona, my red dragon mare, try the Benz.
From the start, the Picassi fit Wilson beautifully. The white padding is striking on him and the elegantly shaped noseband and crystal browband look pretty snazzy. I particularly like how the throat latch adjusts too, which is slightly different than most bridles as it lays more along the cheek rather than straight down.
Perhaps more important than the fashion statement is the fact that he really seems to like how it fits. Will can have a tendency to gape his mouth in regular bridles and he doesn’t love where a standard cavesson sits. With the Picassi, he was super quiet in the contact from the start.
Where the Picassi is classic elegance, the Benz seems to scream fun. One of the other reasons I chose to use the Benz on Milona was because I thought the rose gold buckles and padding would go well with her flaming red dragoness. I also *had* to try the complimenting Jointed Flex stirrups because MATCHING.
Although the Benz is modestly priced, I was impressed with the suppleness of the leather, quality of the stitching, and the fact that it had a million places it could be adjusted. Specifically, it has tons of holes for adjustment on the lower nose band and the bit. Not having enough adjustability has been an issue with most anatomic bridles for Milona as she has a small muzzle, big jowl, and not a particularly long face. This has made fitting an anatomic bridle on her tricky as many bridles that fit her jowl area are too long and big for her face and muzzle. This was not an issue with the Benz.
Much like Wilson, Milona also performed well in the new bridle with no obvious objections. As she’s quite a bit younger and much more green than Will, I can’t say that I can tell that it drastically changed her way of going, but I can say that her training has continued to progress beautifully while in it, so I’ll take that.
At this point I have ridden in both bridles for almost four months and continue to be impressed by how they’re wearing. The leather feels like it is breaking in nicely, becoming more supple with no signs of cracking or other weirdness that can happen with lower quality leather. The white padding on the Picassi is still cleaning up well and looking crisp and the rose gold padding on the Benz shows no wear at all (which I suspect is because it isn’t quite a soft as the white leather). Going forward, I would imagine the white padding on the Picassi will eventually show more signs of wear, as that always seems to be the case with white leather, but it certainly makes the bridle pop. If I had a nit about the Benz it would simply be that the rose coloring is pretty bold—more so than I imagined—so if you’re more traditional in your attire you might prefer the Picassi.
Overall, I am quite pleased with both bridles and would highly recommend them to anyone looking for a quality anatomic bridle that not only functions beautifully but makes a statement.
You can learn more and see Equiluxe’s full range of products — and they have all sorts of fun, glitter-laden, retail therapy fun — on their website, as well as connect with them on Facebook to see more product pictures and receive sale and contest notices.