I've been oogling these bridles for some time but since I'm pretty firmly in love with Flexible Fit, I hadn't been able to pull the trigger on trying one of these out. This all changed when I got in a new sales horse and his head is definitely an oversized fit so we couldn't recycle a bridle from the tack room. The prices on Flexible Fit have been increasing with their popularity and since I'm not sure of my plan for this big boy, I was wavering on what to get him. He's a chestnut too and I've been debating a brown dressage bridle for him. I found myself going back and forth between my standard Flexible Fit at about $250+ (+++ too) or trying one of these for about $225. I opted to give these a try since I reasoned I could just return it if it didn't work. Also, the horse was HERE already and I didn't want to wait the (albeit completely reasonable) shipping from Australia for Flexible Fit. I placed my order for a black and white Milano style bridle with 20x60 and waited. I chose the Milano because it had an integrated crown piece - I wasn't sure how I felt about NOT having one at this time. I also wanted to try something with rolled cheeks and we like the look of the patent leather on my other guys. The broadband on this bridle was a little less "tiara" as well for the intended Irish Sport Horse gelding, Patrick.
I don't recall the exact wait time, but it was FAST. 20x60 sent me information promptly about when the order was received, processed, shipped, etc. Upon arrival (maybe 3-5 days later), it was well packaged, had a complementary 20x60 tote in it, and a thank you note. Not bad! We tried it on the new horse (Premiera only goes to Full size so I was expected it to be rather large) and it looked sooo good on him.
The leather smell from the box wasn't the heavenly smell I'm used to with Flexible Fit and it wasn't as soft out of the box as I'm used to. Overall it felt strong and soft in the corresponding places though. For the price, I felt it was fair. Since the new red horse is still working in the round pen, we tacked him up and went in there. The bridle did the job fine (not as though it was having anything done to it aside from being on a horse :) ) and took it off. Didn't look any worse for the wear so we put it up. Later that evening, I decided to put Sarah on Feina for the first time since we've gotten Feina (she probably hadn't been ridden in over a year). Feina is about 17.1h so we pulled out the Premiera bridle again to see how it would work on her. She has a typical old school warmblood head and it definitely made her look very classy. We did a light 15 minute ride on her and then took the bridle off for the night.
Two days later, we pulled the bridle out for red horse in the round pen again and I noticed that the noseband was starting to "ripple" through the patent leather as we tacked him up. It's not terribly obvious when you are riding, doesn't affect it's performance, and honestly, if I hadn't had such stellar experienced with the FF bridles' patent I wouldn't have thought twice about it. It doesn't seem to affect the bridle and it doesn't look brittle, but it is definitely something we're going to keep our eyes on while we use it more.
We tried using one of our regular brow bands with these bridles and they were just too small for these huge horses (the bands are horse sized) so we used the curved bling that came with them. Honestly, they were lovely and fit the giants nicely while adding some refinement to their heads. I did like the rolled pieces of the bridle, but the buckles on the sides do tend to obscure them in this style. One of the stones was a bit more recessed into the leather channel so it made it look funky but it's only noticeable when you are looking at it for that.
With this information and the fun ride we had on Feina, I decided to get her her own bridle at this point. I opted to get another Premiera bridle, but chose the Imperia style this time for it's blingier brow band, full rolled leather, and to see how the lack of a crown piece would affect things. I thought this nose band was patent again, but it's not (I missed one detail :P ).
At some point between ordering from 20x60 and deciding to get Feina her own bridle, I saw THIS post by SprinklerBandit and realized I'd overpaid for the bridle. Normally I stalk EVERYTHING online to get the best price, but I was blinded by the "lower than I'd thought to pay" price and the fact that I could return the thing if I wanted to. This time I ordered from HypoStore to save the $100ish and assumed my punishment would be having to wait forever for it to come from Europe. The actual time from ordering to delivery was about 7 days so not really that bad. It was packaged well upon arrival, but of course without the nice tote and thank you note that I had gotten from 20x60.
***The biggest thing I'd say here about ordering from HypoStore vs 20x60 would be how worried you are about needing to do a return. I find these bridles (so far) are worth the $200ish that 20x60 charges and their customer service was rocking. I honestly would have been pleased with the 20x60 price and would have ordered Feina's from them if I didn't realize HypoStore had them for so much less (and wasn't curious about the difference in ordering here vs Europe). If you order from overseas, then you should know the drill on returning isn't going to be so easy but you'd save money. Basically, like many things, you're paying for the convenience of it being based in the USA when you go with 20x60. Plus really nice customer service***
Overly dramatic unwrapping of the Imperia bridle from HypoStore
Feina got to try this thing out last night and it looked super stunning on her. Even though the broadband doesn't look THAT much more bling, well... it is. The rolled sides did their best to make her head look more feminine and it was padded in all the right places. I thought the lack of a crown piece might cause some rawry mare moments, but nope. All was well. The buckles on the top of the bridle made for an ultra clean appearance on the sides of her face which is really nice when you're putting a bridle on a huge warmblood. So far, it's a win. I prefer to not use flashes, drops, etc cavessons with the horses so I don't like that my choices are flash or drop only in these bridles. Once I can come to grips with it (or if groom beats me to it), we'll trim off the tabs for the flash. The flash strap is nicely rolled though and really nice if you do use them.
In summary, I think these things are worth the price - no matter where you get them from. I can't comment on the durability obviously but they should do the job for an average person's needs. We don't swap our bridles from horse to horse so they are under a "normal" work load of 3-5 rides a week on the same horse. The style is outstanding for the modern dressage ring/rider and I think this a nice way to class up your schooling/show wardrobe without breaking the bank or compromising on style or quality. Just keep in mind that we bought the Full size for two 17+ hand large boned beasts and the full size fits great (not on the highest or loosest holes) so if you're on the fence with sizing, don't say I didn't warn you.