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Leather tack; what to look for

September 12, 2016

One of the most frequently asked questions I get when talking about EUR Equestrian’s bridles is about the quality of leather. When it comes to choosing the best gear for our horse we want what’s best for our horse, but unfortunately most of us also have a budget to keep in mind.

A basic overview

Leather is made from a variety of animal hides, which are preserved through a process called tanning. The most common tannins you’ll hear about when talking horse gear are vegetable-based tanning, chrome-based tanning. Vegetable-based tanning results from the bark of trees, wood or other plants. Chrome-based tanning used chromium sulphate and other salts of chromium.

The best and most expensive type of leather used in bridles is Bridle leather, or authentic English leather. It is extremely smooth, comfortable and flexible leather and expected to be both strong and durable. Bridle leather is made from only the best grades of leather which are then intensely processed with grease and wax. Although expensive, bridle leather will look very good and age well.

In Europe, the most commonly used leather is vegetable-tanned leather. This tanning process is eco-friendlier than chrome based tanning processes, producing a lot less waste than older traditional tanning processes. Besides being eco-friendly, vegetable-tanned leather is firm and strong. When new, the leather sometimes appears a bit inflexible but it becomes very supple when in use.

Traditionally, many bridles are still made using chrome-based tanning processes. Most economical bridles are often made from chrome-based tanned leathers which are then drum-dyed to give it a deeper colour.

How to choose the best bridle

So what is the best bridle for me and my horse? Well that question depends on your riding habits and goals. Are you a recreational rider or an ambitious rider moving through the levels of dressage or show jumping quickly? What is your budget? Are you looking for a training bridle or a competition or show bridle?

Simply put, the best quality of leather is Bridle leather. Unfortunately, not everybody has the budget for this high range leather, especially not when you need an every-day training bridle. Though it might be worth saving up for one if you’re a serious competitor. My personal favourite is the vegetable-tanned based leather bridles; as it offers quality for a reasonable price and gives my horse a decent, supple and strong bridle that will last a while. Of course, when you’re just looking to go on a trail ride in the weekend or do some sporting at your local pony club, a drum dyed economical bridle might suit your needs just fine.

EUR Equestrian’s choice

It won’t be much of a surprise, as I already mentioned my favourite leather type. All our bridles are made of vegetable-tanned leather; eco-friendly, strong yet supple and good value for money. If you disagree, have another option you’d like to share or have a question, feel free to comment below!



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