Member: National Bit, Spur & Saddle Collector's Association and Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America
Item #HHB425 / $2,200.
About This Horsehair Bridle Set:
This is a very nice example of a horsehair bridle made in a Western prison between the 1890's and 1910. The bridle is made in a wonderful mix of colors and styles that bring together the Native American influence and the prison workshop tools and traditions. The pieces of the bridle at the poll are rounded in the Native fashion, while the sides, nose and brow band are pressed, as was the tradition within the prison. The patterning is also quite culturally constant, as the zig-zag (lightening) theme is present on the rounded poll, whereas the diamond geometrics that are seen in prison/penitentiary production is present in all other hitching, including the reins. The drops are a feature that are almost exclusively an indicator of prison origin.
All four beautiful rosettes match. The 1" picture within the glass is extremely clear, depicting a disturbed horse in the act of bolting. Each glass dome is surrounded by a 1/2" ring of metal which frames the rosette very nicely. Many bridles have these metal parts covered with braiding. The top rosettes are attached to the horsehair by way of a leather piece that is encased in the pressed hitched horsehair brow band. The sides of the leather were run through the buckle on the back of each rosette and sewn together so as to allow the independent movement of the brow band to fit the horse's individual facial length. This is another design feature that is seen quite often in prison bridles. The pattern is that of a red, black, green, pink, and natural. It is, in places, difficult to distinguish the nuance between those colors and their darker shades given the age and condition of this piece. Old repairs have been made to this bridle - surgical tape (once white and now completely blackened by use and age) has been wrapped at the junction of reins and bit. The same method was used well at the poll, to keep the individual lengths of horsehair ropes together. At the time it was made, that piece would have been made of the same leather as the pieces supporting the rosettes. Fortunately, the drops that go from the poll to the brow band and continue down to the nose are still present and absolutely beautiful.
The geometric pattern of elongated triangles executed in a multi-colored pattern are fashioned into sections of pattern by beautifully braided knots, woven in a braided textural pattern. The pattern is repeated throughout the bridle and into the reins, along the poll, brow band, nose and sides - ensuring the collector that this is a piece that is all original and not cobbled together into one out of separate, multi-sourced pieces. It has been used extensively since its creation and is missing one of two tassels that lie on the front of the horse's neck when worn. As mentioned before, some vintage repairs have been made, though they do not take away from the overall package. Additionally there is a patch of wear on the reins where they would have been in repeated contact with the horse. Measurements: The bridle is 18" long from the poll to the top of the bit. The reins are 54" long, linked together by a horsehair knot at 36".
The unassuming bit that is attached to this bridle is of aluminum and decorated (by an inexpert hand) with zigzag hatchings along the sides. The bridle and reins pre-date the bit by many years, although the bit is certainly vintage and due to the rough workmanship of the decoration, could certainly have originated in a prison forge, though equally likely could have been executed by a journeyman or apprentice at the beginning of his education. Measurements: The bit is 7" long by 6" wide.
The set is a beautiful example of prison made horsehair bridles and would make a wonderful addition to a collection. Certainly it would also be welcome as an element of decor, bringing an instant affluent Western Ranch ambiance to any setting, and is one of the oldest ones we offer.
Prison Made Bridle and Reins with Bolting Horse Rosettes / Item #HHB425 / $2,200.
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Members: National Bit, Spur & Saddle Collector's Association
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