I want to review two products that I've purchased in the past couple of months.
The first product is the Medievel Bridle I purchased for my birthday. I got it from Two Horse Tack.
It was the medievel bridle designed for an arabian, made of biothane in royal blue with dark blue stones. It is a really well made bridle, double stitched with white thread and the stones are well set, in no danger of coming off. The biothane is thick and surprisingly heavy, but flexible even in the cold. The throat latch and cavasson have double buckles, so the bands can be adjusted from either side. I love the color and design and have received a lot of complements on how it looks on Ashke. It matches the breastcollar from THT, my girth and my Ambleside saddle pad. It is incredibly easy to clean. I dumped it in the sink with a little Dawn dish soap and let it soak for ten minutes, rinsed it with hot water and then wiped it dry. It looked as good afterward as it did when I received it. There is no indication of cracking or damage and I have used it exclusively since I received it.
Those are the pros. The only con was the sizing. I have had this issue with every piece of head wear I've bought for Ashke. I have to buy a yearling sized halter to fit his nose and the size of his head. To correctly fit a bridle to him, it has to be cob sized, however the browband needs to be sized for a warmblood. The bridle from THT was no exception. The browband was way to small and the nose band was ill fitting, although the nose band didn't look bad at a distance. I fiddled and fiddled with the browband, to the point of taking the spacer out for the throat latch to give myself a few more centimeters. I was finally over it. It was a struggle to put on because of the width and Ashke and I have had a couple of struggles to get the bridle on over his ears. For a while I was taking it partially apart to get it on his head correctly. I decided to make a beaded browband that was 17" wide with sections for the throatlatch and the side pieces to keep them separated. I wanted it to match the rest of the bridle.
I think I did a pretty good job. What do you think? The noseband is not perfect, but it is set in a way that works without interfering with his bit.
I give the bridle 4.5 stars out of five. I would have been less forgiving of the fit if I hadn't had this same issue with every single bridle or halter I've purchased. And as much as I loved the biothane browband, it wasn't worth my money to replace it and I love having my own creation as part of this bridle. He was so much happier when I put it on today.
The second item I want to review is my Ovation Dafna Blizzard Winter Boot. I believe this boot style was originally made by Dafna, but they were bought by Ovation. They are fleece lined and have velcro tightening straps on the sides. I read the reviews and one of the complaints was the boot sagged at the ankle. This was one of my Xmas presents and I have worn them four times now.
The construction of the boot is a Sorel style boot with tall sides. The inside of the leg part has a leather patch similar to that of half chaps. The shoe part of the boot reminds me of my Sorel's, and is wide and loose like a Sorel boot. The entire boot is fleece lined and it is fairly roomy. I think I would have returned these boots as being too big, except that I am wearing bibs, which has made wearing the boots challenging. The first time I rode in them, I didn't get the bottoms of my bibs tucked into the boot very well and ended up with the huge puffy bunch of bib at the knee (think old fashion bloomers). This caused the boot to collapse at the ankle, which felt uncomfortable, and the shoe part of the boot was very loose. The second time I wore them I tried fastening the bottom of the bibs tighter around my ankle, but was left with a huge flap of material I struggled to get down into the boot. Although I didn't end up with the sagging ankles, I did have to deal with the fact that they and the bibs were not playing well together. My back brain went to work on the issue and I came up with a solution.
First, I replaced my thin pair of socks with two pairs of winter socks, one of which is fairly thick. This resolved probably 2/3rds of my sizing issue. Then, I took my half chaps and used them to hold the bibs down around my lower leg. With the half chaps on, my leg with the bibs fit into my boot fairly well. I'm still struggling a little bit with the sagging ankles, but it is fairly minimized at this point. I am no longer worried about losing a boot.
Once I got the boots to work well with my other winter gear, I have been very pleased. The boots themselves are toasty warm, especially while riding. A lot of times I have had boots that are warm if you are moving, but then slowly chill your toes as the ride goes on. These boots were colder when I was on the ground. Once i was on Ashke and away from the snow, they were amazing. The other good thing is that the leather pads on the inside of the boots helps stablize my lower leg and I am no longer sliding around inside the bibs. Or having my leg swing around inside the bibs.
I am rating them three stars out of five. For the $50 they cost me, they are worth the hassle of finding a way to make them work. I can't in good conscience recommend them to any one else. I know they will work for the coldest rides we are going to go on and they are completely water proof, which is a huge plus, in case I need to walk through muck or water. I don't like the fit in them well enough to wear them as work boots and could see my heels becoming sore if I had to walk in them for very long. I am happy with the temps they keep my feet and will continue to use them for this winter, although I can't promise I won't replace them next winter.