The bridle is a piece of safety equipment, responsible for holding the bit and the reins in place so that you can communicate with your horse while riding. Accessories must not interfere with this function. Appropriately placed, however, accessories can make a plain bridle look fancy and can serve to coordinate a bridle with with the rest of your tack.
Tags and Plates
Engraved tags and plates give bridles character, and they serve the utilitarian purpose of helping to differentiate between tack for different horses. Engraved bridle accessories can serve in an emergency, such as by including a horse's name, medical conditions and owner's contact information. A horse that breaks away or loses a rider can be safely returned to his owner thanks to the information on the tag or plate. Tags generally clip on to the bridle, while plates are riveted.
Except in the cold winter months, flies are a constant irritant to horses. A fly mask helps keep them away from your horse's eyes most of the time, but it's not a practical solution for riding. A shoo-fly accessory solves this problem. It attaches to the browband on the bridle and swings around with the horse's movement to scare away flies. Some shoo-fly attachments are horsehair tassels, while others look like strips of leather or plastic fringe.
The browband on the bridle is both functional and decorative. It helps keep the bridle, and consequently the bit, in place. On some bridles, it is permanently attached, but on most it can be removed and replaced with a custom or decorative one to match the rest of your tack, saddle or pad. Crafty riders can make their own browbands with leather, ribbon, paracord or any other sturdy material and add beads or crystals to customize the look.
Silver conchos are standard ornaments on Western show bridles, but they aren't the only option for decoration. Studs and rivets, including rivets set with rhinestones, crystals or semiprecious gems such as turquoise are popular choices for accessorizing and customizing your bridle. Have a professional attache them them at a leather goods or saddle repair shop, or use a leather punch and hammer to securely install them yourself. Rosettes and sturdy jewelry charms made from silver, pewter or brass may also be sewn or glued on, but be sure that they are not placed in a way that would irritate the horse while he is wearing the bridle.
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