Thursday, December 6, 2018

Kavalkade Bridle Review

Eyes off the mud, friends. We're focused on the bridle here. The bridle, and the cuteness. Always the cuteness.
This summer I purchased the Kavalkade Isabella Bridle. I had been searching high and low for a vendor of monocrown drop nosebands, to no avail. Giving up, I decided this monocrown drop noseband bridle was a similar cost to a custom noseband and pulled the trigger. What follows is a history of the ways I've used this bridle and a scattered review of its qualities.

To start, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the bridle out of the box.
New tack is always so exciting!
The leather wasn't as plastic-y as I had assumed it would be. In fact, Kavalkade impressed me with how nice this bridle really is for the money. It has a lot of features found in far more expensive models these days, including padding on the crown and noseband and a slight anatomical cutout around the ears. It also comes with reins, which I did not actually plan to use.

Like a kid playing with the box instead of the toy, I found the velcro keepers wrapped around the bridle the best part of the whole thing. I've actually used them a ton to keep my double bridle from tangling with the other strap goods on my bridle rack. Maybe don't buy this bridle for them, but they are really handy, so don't throw them away either!
Padded cutout monocrown and uber fancy browband.
Many of Kavalkade's bridles seem to come with some kind of over-the-top bling browband, and this was no exception. I did like how narrow the browband was, as well as the deep curve to it. Honestly I figured it would look good on both my horses and didn't mind it. (#bringonthebling) I do find I don't like the stainless steel keepers on the bridle, however. They make the whole thing feel much too busy in my mind.

My initial plan was to pull the drop noseband off this bridle and put it on Bast's Eponia bridle. I would then put the plain caveson on the Kavalkade and it would become Pig's new snaffle bridle. Until this point I'd been riding him in the double or his old Frankenbridle. I figured he'd appreciate having something new to himself.
It fits the orange boy!
I was pleased with how well the Kavalkade fit Pig from the start. The leather seemed to break in well, and didn't rub his ears. Plus the browband made him look very classy.
Soooo classy.
The buckles on the drop were a bit too narrow for the Eponia straps, but I made them work without damaging anything. Evaluating the fit of the drop on Bast was initially quite difficult because of how stiff the noseband was right out of the box.
I think it's maybe too wide over his nose? Or something. Basically it sits weird.
After adjusting it somewhat to my liking I took Bast for a spin in it. As he was just coming back to work, I had no comparison between the Eponia flash and the drop. He seemed to accept it better than the Micklem I had tried last fall, however. I left it on the bridle in hopes it would help him figure out how to better accept the hand.

Then we went to a show and I put the nicer looking Eponia flash noseband on the bridle again. No one needs that many clashing metals and styles in their photos, after all. I noticed no real difference in Bast with the flash vs the drop, so I left the flash on the bridle and continued his schooling as normal.

Until...
RIP cheekpieces...
Bast accidentally tangled his reins around his leg while walking out of the ring one night, and both cheek pieces on my Eponia snapped right at the buckle. I was really devastated by the loss, as all the buckles on the Eponia are rose gold and therefore impossible to match. (Eponia is looking for a set for me as we speak, and hopefully can ship them to me soon!)

Down a bridle, I thanked myself for hoarding them. Quickly I reassembled the Kavalkade with its original setup and fit it for Bast.
Not a bad fit here, either!
Somewhere in the last year, Bast's face has lengthened. This isn't surprising as his teeth had yet to all come in when I bought him. Thankfully, now he and Pig use just about the same holes on their bridles. This means very minimal adjustments are required to have them swap bridles! The bridle fit quickly and nicely.
Drop noseband doing its job, and not looking too ugly.
After riding in the whole setup for just over a month, I'm pretty happy. I see some minor fit issues that could be addressed. The noseband could use less width over the actual nose. I plan to bring it up a hole, which may address this or may interfere too much with my snaffle. The keepers on the noseband like to slip off, which drives me nuts as the ends flap in the wind. Also the noseband strap comes perilously close to Bast's eye.
Note: Raised the noseband up since writing this and am much happier with the fit. However, straps are still super close to his eyes.
This is common with most drops, but can be mitigated with the fit over the nose. I'm not really sure yet how to fix this issue, but Bast doesn't seem too concerned by it for now.
Ugh. Strap so close to his eye, and keeper undone AGAIN.
For close to $130, this bridle was overall a win. It doesn't look cheap. The leather is stiffer than some, but feels like it should hold up to quite a bit of abuse. While busy, it's not an ugly bridle. I do enjoy the lack of bulk behind the ears and the ease of cleaning, though.

If you're in the market for a less expensive monocrown drop option (and there are not many!), I can recommend this bridle. I may continue to school in the drop even if I get the Eponia cheek pieces. I feel like it's such a helpful tool with a young horse learning about contact. I can feel how much he's improved and begun responding to my hand over the last month. Once he's educated we can go back to the plain or flash noseband instead.
The unicorn approves of this bridle. And Liz, I suppose. ;)
Have you ever used a drop on your horse before? I put one on Pig for many years before he was ready to go into the plain caveson and the double bridle. It proved very useful when it came to steadying the bit in his sensitive mouth. As I said, I think they're more useful and educational for a young horse than a flimsy flash. So let me know of your experiences with a drop below!

12 comments:

  1. I too kept the velcro straps from the Kavalkade bridle and Kavalkade reins that I bought (I love the reins!). Although I haven't used them for anything, I just tossed them in my tack trunk because who can throw away a good velcro strap?

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    1. Omg no one. For a group of people overrun with strap goods and ropes, we should all be hoarding them. Haha.

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  2. I have never used a drop nose band. I am not sure what Carmen would think of it! Solo Equine makes some lovely bridles for the a good price.

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    1. If you've used a flash without an issue, Carmen would probably be fine in a drop. I find most horses actually like them because they lessen the movement in the mouth and are less restrictive than a regular noseband. With nothing going under the jaw they seem to relax a bit.

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  3. okay +1 on the 'where are all the monocrown drops'???? I wish I could put one on my eponia but no one sells them separately

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    1. Flexible Fit makes one, but the cost plus shipping is about the same as the entire Kavalkade bridle. So...

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    2. Try Blackjak Refinery, very nice quality. She currently has a monocrown drop noseband bridle listed, but if you just need the noseband, she might do a special order if you contact her. https://www.etsy.com/listing/636479118/black-drop-noseband-bridle-plain-or?ref=shop_home_active_17&frs=1

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  4. I ride Penny in a drop normally, but recently put her back in the micklem because I couldn't fit it properly with a fullcheek. I love a drop, but man they can be hard to fit. I have a really nice monocrown one bought off Facebook, but no idea the make. It actually looks similar to this one so maybe thats what it is! lol

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    1. They are SO hard to fit. Bast kinda hated the micklem, and I'm not sure why. But he was very opinionated about it. It's weird he would be so specific since the nosebands are really similar.

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  5. I always love to have a drop in my collection - I used to still own some traditional crown bridles and had a Bobby's drop I swapped in and out periodically but I finally sold it and I think I'm down to all monocrowns. One of those is a drop, but it's a cob, so only fits Cinna. Maybe I need a horse sized drop for my collection 🤔 haha.

    Also, which Eponia model has rose gold buckles?? 😍

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    1. It's the Gatsby. I don't know that they make it with rose gold buckles anymore. They change details like that all the time!

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  6. i haven't ever used a drop, but find they look so nice on the right horses! bast certainly is one of them!

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