August 4, 2020

Product Review: Micklem English Leather Deluxe Competition Bridle

Because I fell in love with a black Dressage saddle after buying brown everything, I've had to do some shopping lately, which means reviews. First up: the Micklem Deluxe bridle with the English leather upgrade.

Worst bridle model ever. Plz enjoy his giant spit bubble, thanks, alsike clover.

This bridle is the most poorly advertised, poorly reviewed horse thing I've seen on the internet. Even its manufacturer doesn't give it any love, all it gets is a "English leather option available!" on the standard Micklem Deluxe page. Perhaps this lack of advertising is the reason they all seem to be on closeout right now, who knows.

At least it comes labeled?

Let's get the most important thing out of the way: is the leather quality THAT GOOD? In terms of bridles I have owned, I think it's better than my PS of Sweden but not as good as my Schockemohle. It's much nicer than the other Micklems I've owned.

Out of the box, it was stiff as a board, but for the entire first week I had it, it sucked up conditioner like a frat boy doing a keg stand, and since then it's softened nicely. You can tell it will eventually get to "falling over in my hands" supple, but it's not so soft that it'll get damaged easily, which, personally, is my sweet spot for strap goods.

Straight out of the box, no conditioning

I paid $299 on closeout (and got a really nice free bridle bag and reins I actually like with it), and the roughly $80 premium I paid over the standard Deluxe is about the most I would pay for this upgrade. Retail is $399, and the upgrade is not worth an extra $180, unless you need to light some money on fire.

It feels like it fits different from the same size regular Micklem, but I measured and it isn't. It probably has to do with the fact that the noseband isn't broken in yet, and stands pretty far away from his face. The fancy stitched noseband IS stiffer, more padded and "taller", so maybe it never will hug his face the way the regular Micklems do, I'm not sure.

I expect this to conform a bit more to his face more over time, but honestly IDGAF, he's been going amazing in this bridle ever since we got it.

This is not exclusive to the English leather version, but one very big improvement the Deluxe has over the standard Micklems is the addition of a leather comfort tab below the buckle on the jaw strap. On Connor's standard Micklem, he really needs to be on the third hole, but that puts the metal buckle right up against his jaw, so I put it on a different hole. This bridle solves that problem by putting the same style leather tab that's on all Micklem chin straps onto the jaw strap as well.

One other great improvement: the browband is longer in this version. The normal Standard Horse browband is much too small for Connor, but this one fits great.

Yep, we're on the top hole, but we've established that small horse-sized Micklems Do Not Fit, so this is the right size in this bridle, as much as I hate all the excess strap length. My one major regret with Micklems in general is that you can't do mix and match parts with them. Connor REALLY likes them though, so I will deal with it.

Finally, to my great surprise, the reins that come with it do not suck. They are very similar to my Nunn Finer Soft Grip reins, but slightly tackier, and ever so slightly stiffer, in a good way. I didn't think I'd use them, but I really quite like them and will be keeping them. My only complaint is that they are hook end closures, and I prefer buckle ends, but oh well. "Free" reins are "free" reins.

Forgot to take a picture, but you can see them in this straight-out-of-the-box photo.

Bottom line: If your horse wants a Micklem but the leather quality drives you bananas, this is the best you'll get. If you're not a leather snob, the upgrade is only worth it if you get a good deal on it.

What: Micklem English Leather Deluxe Competition Bridle
Size: Pony, Small Horse, Standard Horse, Large Horse
Colors: Brown, Black
Price: I paid $299.95 at Carousel Horse Tack (who get two thumbs up from me, they've been great to buy from!)


  1. I've gotten some great deals from Carousel tack, I give a couple thumbs up for them too.
    I haven't used a Micklem, but I know some horses really love them. Nice to know there is an upgraded leather option as I've heard from so many that the quality is meh on them.

    1. Yeah, at this point I'm just giving up and admitting Connor just really likes the Micklem. I strongly suspect based on other experiments with/without a flash that it's the stability of the bit that he likes about it, but who knows, not arguing with him! Carousel Horse Tack has been such a nice company to deal with, the owner took the time to send me an email after both orders thanking me for ordering with them, and then the second time for being a repeat customer. Lovely company!

  2. It does look squishier and nicer than the regular ones! I love the reins that come with Micklems so much they're all I buy now. The length is really perfect for me and they seem to last forever.

    1. For some reason I swear that Micklems used to come with really shitty like, web reins. Maybe I'm dreaming that. Either way, I'm with you, I really like these.

  3. okay now i kind of want to buy this....

    you know what I realized? You talk about the tabs on the chin and jowel straps and my micklem multibridle totally has those. I wonder why the other deluxe's dont??

    1. I am making an assumption that the other Deluxes DO. It's the non-deluxe Micklem competition bridles that don't. Although it's possible that because I've only ever bought them used, they've all torn off, but I've owned or borrowed five of the things over the years, so I feel like I would know?

  4. Conner's face in that first picture cracks me up, he reminds me of a cranky teenage boy at a family reunion who doesn't want his picture taken. Haha!