From Endurance to Dressage
One of the best things about endurance riding is the tack. Yes, it comes in every color you can think of, but that's not what I mean. What I mean is that the tack is not leather. I hate leather. It's hard to keep clean in our hot climate. It doesn't like to be dunked repeatedly in water. It breaks. Overall, it's just not suitable for my busy style of horse-keeping. I like stuff that I can either hose off, or swish in a bucket at the end of the day. The early pioneers of endurance tack vendors felt the same way.
The first non-leather tack that endurance riders used was made from nylon, and many still use it. I can't say for sure, but it may well have been invented by Henry Griffin. He has been around a looooong time. You can find his stuff at Griffin's Tack. Nylon tack can be washed easily, but it also shrinks and stretches when it gets wet and dries out. It also gets stiff and has a tendency to fray near the hardware. It's cheap, though and comes in lots of colors. I had several pieces of nylon tack.
The next big thing was BioThane, created by BioPlastics in 1977. Oh, man! That stuff was the greatest. It's a plastic coated webbing that is virtually indestructible. It can be dunked in water, sprayed with a hose, or even put in the dishwasher. I've never done this myself (ew!) and I am not sure the manufacturer recommends it, but I have heard it done. BioThane tack comes in every color you can image; dayglo, tie-dye, matte, sparkly, etc. Running Bear carries a lot of tack items in BioThane. I still have several BioThane pieces.
The next thing we saw was Zilco tack. They use a range of synthetic materials, but they also started padding many pieces of their tack with a PVC waffle backing. The one disadvantge to the original BioThane tack was that the strapping was pretty narrow, especially on the breast collars. The thicker backing dispersed pressure and minimized chaffing. I still use their breast collar, crupper, halter, leathers, and headstalls.
The one issue with all of these synthetic products was that they could be stiff when it got cold and they didn't shape as readily to the horse's profile as easily as does leather.
To solve some of these issues, BioThane introduced Beta, which can be found at the Distance Depot and other stores. Beta is a synthetic material, but it looks and feels almost exactly like leather. It comes in many colors, is just as easy to clean, and is just as durable as BioThane. I use three different sets of Beta reins and adore them.
And the newest synthetic to come along is Tekna. It is a synthetic material that feels a lot like Beta, but I am not sure quite what it is. The Tekna website describes it as, "a suite of hi-tech, breathable materials designed to maximise performance, durability, and comfort while minimising maintenance
Okay ... now the truth. Yes, I bought the bridle, but it was my fifth attempt at finding something that I both liked and that fit my Arabian horse. Dressage tack is not sized for Arabians. Horse size is waaaay too big and cob sized tack fits ... funky, for lack of a better word.
The first bridle I bought was a Wintec bridle. Cheap and useful, but not attractive. The second bridle I bought was from a friend, new and cheap, leather with some bling, but too big. The third bridle I bought was also from a friend but it suffered from the same problems as the second, cute with bling, but also too big. The fourth bridle I bought (okay ... this is ridiculous!), was from ZIlco, my trusted tack manufacturer. This time it fit, pretty well, but it looked plasticky and didn't hang very nicely. Big sigh ...
And then I found the Tekna bridle. Bridle number five. The material feels wonderful, the throat latch hangs correctly, and the cheek straps fit well. The only problem with it is that the brow band is slightly snug, but I am hoping it will "stretch" a little with repeated wear. I certainly hope so because there is no bridle number six!
Anyone need a bridle? I have four for sale!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
2023 Completed …
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%: