Care of IR Bridles
Bridles nowadays are made up of a variety of different materials which needs to be taken into consideration when cleaning and caring for them.
When new, an IR Bridle is very stiff, which shows the quality of the Sedgwicks leather it has been made from. Through care and use the leather will soften. As with all leathers, avoid getting them wet, if this happens then allow them to dry naturally and give them a good feed afterwards. If leather is unnaturally dried by the sun or a heater then it will become hard and brittle which renders it unsafe.
Due to changes in laws governing tanning, modern bridle leather needs slightly different care than it did fifty years ago. Leather loses an amount of its oils every day of its life whether it is used or not. This needs to be put back in to ensure longevity. Before first use, the bridle needs to be ‘fed’ using a high quality leather balm. IR Bridle recommends Sedgwicks Leather Care because it is the mixture of oils the leather is stuffed with during finishing. To clean the leather, lukewarm water and a sponge is the best way. Any product which includes alcohol, e.g. some spray products, are to be avoided as these can make the colour run. If in doubt, always check on a hidden part of the bridle first.
The leather used for padding IR Bridles is actually garment hide. As a result it needs very little dedicated care, just clean along with the rest of the bridle. White padding can be cleaned with white spirit if it has become very dirty, just make sure to avoid any other parts of the bridle.
Traditional patent leather achieved its shine by layers of polish built up on top of each other. Over time this would crack, however modern patent is plastic coated leather which makes it flexible and easily cared for, just a clean and a polish with a soft cloth. Patent is easily scratched so try and avoid leaving the bridle on the horse unattended.
The rubber grips used on IR Bridles is made out of UK sourced rubber. When cleaning the reins, avoid getting any product on the rubber as it will degrade it. Cleaning with water is all the care it needs.
The web used for Continental Reins on IR Bridles is heavy duty cotton rein web. This can be cleaned by washing in water and allowed to dry naturally. As cotton is a natural product it can rot if kept damp.
All the metalwork on IR Bridles is solid brass, nickel plated brass or stainless steel with the exception of the browband ornaments. All three metals can be cleaned with water first and then polished with a metal polish. Be careful not to get polish onto the leather as it can mark. Pay special attention to the hook studs and buckle tongues as these parts are the most likely to wear if not cleaned regularly.
Depending on the browband ornaments, they can be cleaned like the buckles in the case of clincher links, or the diamonte browbands can be cleaned using a soft damp brush. The claws holding the diamonte stones are quite delicate and whilst every care has been taken during manufacture to protect them, they can break if treated a little too roughly.
Treat rolled leather the same as normal bridle leather, but just be aware it has been soaked in water already to create its shape so may need a little more food when new. Every rolled strap is filled with rope to ensure strength.
IR Bridles will be happy to explain the different materials used in each individual bridle.