If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I really don't like leather products. I try to avoid them whenever possible. Leather is difficult to care for when you lead a busy life. For more than a decade I have searched for, and found, the best synthetics possible. My bridles, halters, breast collars, cruppers, and other tack have been made from Beta or washable materials like neoprene or wool. My endurance saddles were leather, but they were covered with a high quality Merino sheepskin to protect them from the harsh conditions of the trail.
When I started to ride dressage, I bought a Wintec saddle and bridle. I replaced that saddle with another Wintec saddle and a Tekna bridle with Beta reins. The Wintec saddle has since been replaced by a much more comfortable and grippy leather saddle and my Beta reins are in the process of getting the proverbial boot.
And here's where the eating of the crow begins.
I'll admit it. Synthetics may not be the best choice for dressage. Synthetics wash easily, but that same property of washability makes them slippery. I have a problem maintaining a steady contact. As I ride, the reins just seem to drift down through my hands and before I know it, 12 feet of rein are flapping in the breeze.
I didn't notice it initially with Speedy G because he's not "heavy" in my hand like Sydney is. He's just fussy. During a recent schooling ride on Sydney however, I noticed that he had simply leaned hard enough to put slack in the rein. Even with gloves, I couldn't keep a firm grip on the reins.
I had a spare set of web reins in the tack room so I swapped out my lovely, but obviously slippery, Beta reins for the cotton web reins. Oh ... that's how you keep the "fence board" in front of his nose! When he leaned, I was able to hold firmly to the rein without letting it slip through. Until I rode Speedy on Sunday morning, it still hadn't dawned on me that this might be part of my inability to maintain a steady contact with him. As he popped his nose out and sucked behind the vertical, the reins slithered through my fingers. I was working incredibly hard to keep a grip on the reins. Somewhere between a few craps! and a couple of damns!, the idea popped into my head that I needed a less slippery set of reins. Hello!
As soon as I got home, I went online to SmartPak and ordered a well-reviewed set of cotton web reins with leather ends. You can check them out here. Until they arrive, I am switching my one set of web reins between the two bridles. Goodbye synthetics!