The bridle is quite pretty out of the package, but I did spend some time conditioning it, especially at the bit ends. I hate those hooks; they're so hard to open and close when the leather is stiff. The padding on the crown piece and nose band is nice and feels as though it will hold up well. Over-all, the leather has a nice thickness and width. I am very satisfied with the quality and workmanship of the bridle and with some regular conditioning, I imagine it will get softer and softer.
The rubber reins are nice enough, but the rubber is quite thick. I love my Passier laced reins, and I've worked hard to get them super soft and drapey, but I am trying the rubber reins for now. I may switch back. I can tell they're going to be great if I go fox hunting again; that rubber doesn't slip at all!
Sydney is quite a large boy as far as TBs go. Not that I have oodles of experience with his breed, but from what I can see and from what others tell me, he's rather large for his breed. Maybe it's the New Zealand breeding. It's not like he's a giant, but he's really thick. His head is wide and moderately long. I waffled for some time over which size bridle to order. It comes in Pony, Cob, Horse, and Large Horse. I went with the Horse size which seems to have worked out.
Many reviewers complained about the jaw strap being too short; I have to agree. For the "cheek" piece, I have it set 4 holes from the top with 5 to go, but for the jaw strap it's on the very last hole. The flash's fit is similar; it's on the second to the last hole, but I am certain that will stretch.
Ease of Use
Whether it solves any of Sydney's tension issues or not, I still love the bridle. The design makes it super user-friendly. You simply unbuckle the jaw strap and the flash and the whole thing slides off. Putting it on is even easier. You don't have to hold the caveson open or widen the crank noseband, and there's no flash attachment to drop. And conditioning it was fast; there are fewer pieces to dissemble and clean.
If you're looking at this bridle to buy, I would recommend you buy it first because you like the design, second for the quality of construction, and lastly for it's tension reducing abilities. I am glad I bought the bridle, and I think that it's a quality piece of tack for the price.
More to come ...