Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Bridle Dilemma

The odds and ends order I've been working on this week includes a classic tan hunter bridle, which has presented me with the opportunity to do a lot of thinking about bridles. Mainly, creating in scale bridles on horses who aren't even four inches tall.

The biggest challenge with making teensy tiny bridles and other strappy things is trying to get your lace and buckles small enough to not overwhelm the horse's face. Full size English bridles are super thin and subtle- the buckles on the cheek piece are probably about a third the size of the horse's eye. 

Actually making my bridle's straps and buckles that tiny would not only be impossible on my part but incredibly frustrating for anyone wanting to use the bridle without it snapping in a stiff breeze. So I'm constantly trying to balance getting my straps as small as I can possibly work with, with keeping in mind the wear and tear the bridle will hopefully go through in its life. 

So far my biggest concern and dilemma with the way I make my bridles is how the noseband hangar attaches to the noseband. In keeping with how real bridles are built, I slip the ends of the hangar through itty bitty slots cut horizontally on either side of the noseband. This looks tidy and realistic, but means that the only thing keeping the noseband attached to the bridle is a small section extremely narrow, paper-thin lace. 

Unsurprisingly, this is not an indestructible system.

(Excuse my nail. Tack making and manicures don't play nice.)

In fact, the other project on my desk is a repair job on the pony set I made this summer, one of whose problems is a broken noseband. Repairs are frustrating but great teaching tools- I don't use and show my own tack enough to find these weak spots myself, and knowing what doesn't hold up is super helpful for me to work towards creating hardier tack.

So that's what I've been noodling on for the past two hours, while I laced some reins and watched some Gilmore Girls. How to keep my straps thin and in scale (as much as I can), while being a little more resilient against breakage?

I think it ultimately comes down to the fact that tack at this scale is just inherently super delicate, unfortunately. It's why I have a free repair policy. But on this new bridle I'll definitely be trying some new tricks to see if they help it hold up at all. We shall see.

I'm feeling scatter-brained, so have some random desktop shots. The above is the awful "spider" phase of the tan bridle I'm currently chipping away at (this is trial #3, I keep getting frustrated and breaking it or losing it).

This is the part of the rein lacing process where you go "Oh my God these are awful what am I doing I need to just throw this away it looks terrible why do I even try," but soldier on anyway because you know that every single time you lace reins you go through this phase, and it passes as soon as you lace the other side.

And this is a bad picture of the result of said soldiering- lovely laced reins, ready for a bridle!

Having the pony saddle back here hanging around presented an opportunity for a "big and little" picture. How could I resist?

Looking forward, my goal is to have this accessories order done and ready to ship on the 20th, hopefully giving it plenty of time to reach its new owner by its first show on the 4th. The repair order should be done by then, too, at which point I plan on taking a deep breath and clearing my desk in preparation for either the next commission on my wait list or a sales piece. I haven't decided yet. Really at this point I'm just itching to make a saddle, which either option would satisfy. We'll see!

Update: I just finished updating the Orders page of my site, which has motivated me to start chipping away at my wait list. Ideally, I'd like to get through the six or seven orders on that list by the end of the year, which is an incredibly steep but equally exciting prospect, considering I definitely want to do some sort of sales set in that time. (Aim high!)

On top of that, I know that once I get into custom orders, I want to make something for a blog raffle... I don't think I'll have time for an entire (saddle and bridle) set, so I'm brainstorming on smaller alternatives. What would you guys be interested in? A showy halter? Bareback set? Some type of presentation set?