Product customization for horse and rider is becoming more popular than ever before. Here’s what to watch for on the shelves of your tack supply store.
As a tack shop owner, I have the opportunity to see many products before they become available to the public. Some trends do very well, while others quietly fade away. One trend recently predominating in the marketplace is product customization to suit every horse and rider. Let’s take a look at some of the hottest items available, and why they’re all the rage!
Stirrup irons are an essential piece of riding equipment. Recently, we have begun to see many new designs and colors appear in the market space.
Function and design
Stirrup iron designs have evolved to allow riders with injuries or disabilities to ride nearly pain-free. These designs help bring a rider peace of mind, whether they’re clearing a jumping course or out on a hack with friends.
- Wide, textured/cheese grater foot beds are great for extra support, security, and stability.
- Jointed/flex irons help riders who need the flexibility for their ankles or knees.
- Angled foot beds help riders keep their heels down, have a quiet leg, help with body position, and reduce stress on joints.
- Offset/adjustable eye stirrup irons reduce the amount of twisting and fighting the rider may experience with their leathers and iron. It may also help some riders when mounting their horses.
- Safety stirrups can give the rider peace of mind, and prevent dangerous situations from occurring .
Stirrup irons used to be utilitarian – plain functional silver irons. Today, colors and materials provide endless possibilities to customize your style. Stirrup irons can be made from stainless steel, brass, aluminum, carbon fiber, or plastic. It is now also common for stirrup irons to be anodized or plated with aurigan, rose gold, or other flashy coatings.
On top of the new colors and materials, we have also seen stirrup irons that feature a “rearing horse” or Swarovski crystals on the outside branch.
When you think of buying a new bridle, two things come to mind: comfort and design. These features are now more of a focus than ever!
Comfort (padding, noseband type, etc.)
Increasing demand for more comfortable bridles has been occurring ever since the popular “Micklem” style became available. Bridle manufacturers are now offering bridles with comfort crank cavessons, micklem variation nosebands, and a mix of regular cavessons and figure eights.
Many bridle designs now also provide nerve and pressure point relief through wider and thicker padded crown pieces, buckle guards, and anatomic cut-outs – especially for the ears.
All these designs have the horse’s comfort in mind to provide the best riding experience possible for both horse and rider.
Design (color, bling, etc.)
Matching your bridle to your tack and riding outfit is a fun way to customize your look in the arena or show ring. This can be easily accomplished thanks to the abundant choices of leather colors, buckle materials, and browband styles available today. Other fun design features include:
- Colored padding on your bridle other than traditional white
- Swarovski crystals in the browband and noseband
- Curved leather browbands
- Chain browbands with crystals
- Gunmetal or brass buckles
- Bridle charms
- Biothane or synthetic materials instead of leather.
Breeches and jodhpurs
Long gone are the days of stuffy and uncomfortable riding breeches and jodhpurs. They are still required for certain types of showing, but there are now many other “relaxed” options available.
In your local tack shop, you might have noticed that the variety of breeches/jodhpurs has increased. Specifically, you will find more styles of riding tights. Riding tights are great in the summertime for hot weather, and allow the rider freedom of movement due to their stretchy nature. Tights can not only be worn at the barn, but they create an athletic look which works well in any setting.
Silicone grip has become increasingly popular for all riding age groups. Some styles have cute little silicone horses or logos as grip, while others have more aggressive silicone designed to really keep you in the saddle. These breeches are great for offering more security in the saddle, and can also double as a fashion statement!
When it comes to therapeutic equipment, product customization can be very useful for the horse and rider. Athletic injuries or weaknesses need to be addressed and attended to properly. Over the last number of years, an increasing number of brands are producing therapeutic products such as saddle pads, boots, blankets, crown covers, tail wraps, and other products designed to improve a horse and rider’s physical wellness.
Regardless of the type of therapeutic product, they all have a common goal:
- Increase circulation
- Ease muscle tension and stiffness
- Aid in injury prevention
- Reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Common types of therapeutic products range from light therapy, ceramic or copper fibers woven in materials, and cooling and heating products, to other therapies that promote FIR (far infared waves). Given the wide variety of these products that are now available, it’s easier than ever to find options that suit the needs of you and your horse. Just keep in mind that all therapeutic equipment has a time and place and should not replace the opinion of a professional such as a vet or farrier.
After overcoming the challenges of 2020, we all deserve some new riding gear. Whether you’re looking to treat yourself, or shopping for gifts for the horse lovers in your life, embrace the trend of product customization this year!