Welcome to EN’s Product Review series! Who doesn’t love shopping, especially when the object of your search is new gear for yourself or your horse? As an enthusiast of all products equine, I LOVE trying out new gear. Please join me as I narrate my personal journey of trying out all of the products featured. While I will make no recommendations, I hope you have fun reading about my many adventures of trying new products, and that hearing about my personal experiences helps you on your own quest for new gear. Go Shopping.
Most of us who have been around horses are lucky enough to be able to look back at one truly special horse. One who helped to shape our riding, and had a huge impact on our lives in general. You know, the fabled “once in a lifetime” horse.
Some of us are even blessed enough to still have our once in a lifetime horses in our lives today. Sitting on the edge of turning 30, I feel incredibly fortunate to still have my very first horse. Especially since Ripley came into my life when I was only 15.
Instead of wanting a car like most girls my age, all I asked for was my own horse. Ripley was quite the project when he came into my life as an abused horse. He taught me valuable lessons in how to have patience, and value small victories, which applied in and out of the saddle.
How is this story relevant, you might ask? It takes more than a few short sentences to convey how much Ripley means to me. But anyone else who has had (or hopefully still has) an extra special horse in their life can relate. And they all have their own special story to tell.
When my parents bought me Ripley, there wasn’t a budget to buy lots of fancy tack. I bought a lot second hand, and was over the moon to do so because I had my own horse. One thing I did buy for Ripley was a chestnut colored leather halter, with his own brass engraved nameplate.
I talk about Ripley’s old leather halter because I loved that it was specifically “his”. It wasn’t especially pretty. But I was so darn proud of the name plate. So replacing it now that it is old and worn out was kind of a big deal for me.
A company that I was interested to learn about was Formal Glory, LLC. I first became familiar with the company when I saw photos of one of their lovely beaded browbands. Upon further investigation, I found that Formal Glory’s specializes in hand made tack items.
Starting with the leather, Formal Glory crafts each of their pieces by hand. From there, each piece is custom designed by Chris Wrona, the company’s founder and owner, which means that every piece created is as unique and special as the horse that it is crafted for.
In addition to browbands, Formal Glory’s custom product portfolio also includes halters, leads, belts, dog collars, leashes and more. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with Chris, as she created a special customized halter and lead for Ripley.
Working with Chris was a truly terrific experience, because I spent time conversing with her over email and over the phone. We talked about Ripley, and I told her his story and how he came into my life. What little things make him special and a bit about his personality.
We also went on to talk about the details of what I could picture a new halter for Ripley looking like: what color leather he would look best in, what my colors are, even what tone hardware the halter should have. Basically, we covered every little detail.
After spending time chatting with Chris, I felt really excited. From talking with her, she understood why Ripley is so important to me. And her philosophy? She creates custom pieces which bring out the beauty of the special horse that they are made for.
So I anxiously awaited the arrival of Ripley’s custom designed halter and lead, oh so very excited to see how it would turn out. On the day that the package arrived, I was truly touched. I opened it to find a large box, with some beautiful and motivational words on it.
Pulling the lid of the box open, I found Ripley’s new halter and lead, which looked and felt better than I could imagine. The chestnut colored leather of the halter gave a respectful nod to Ripley’s original halter and it looks wonderful with his coat color.
I was very happy to find that the leather of both the halter and the lead felt heavy and durable. The leather is American hide, which is also tanned in America. Both of these points are important to me, as someone who advocates for made in the USA products.
What really caught my attention was the custom beading. Ripley’s special halter and lead boast eye catching red, white and blue beads, along with some sparkly crystals alternated between them. The halter features beading on both cheek pieces and noseband.
The lead also features beading to match the halter. I was very happy to see the heavy duty stitching of both pieces. When I tried the halter on Ripley for the first time, it looked so very right to me, and the beading looked stunning on Ripley.
After sending some pictures to Chris, she was concerned that the fit was a little snug. So she send a replacement crownpiece to help make the fit just right for Ripley. I really appreciated this attention to detail, as Chris wanted to make sure that the piece fit just right.
Ripley has been wearing his custom halter and lead since last August. The halter and lead still look terrific after everyday barn use. The leather looks and feels great, and the beads are nice and secure, so I’m very happy with how both have held up to barn life.
I don’t usually gush, but I have been supremely happy with Ripley’s halter and lead. While the pieces are special, they are tough enough to withstand the everyday wear of barn life. Not to mention that the entire experience of having the pieces created was quite special.
Since each piece from Formal Glory is custom designed and hand made, it is a unique and special shopping experience. Each piece is also made to be affordable: browbands are $54.00, halters are $135.00, and leads are $90.00 with a chain, or $70.00 without (shipping is additional).
All items crafted by Formal Glory have a 14 day money back guarantee, AND they also include a lifetime warranty, should anything go wrong with the product. So for the life of the item, you can return it to be repaired or replaced, as long as Formal Glory is operating.
To inquire about starting the process to create a personalized piece for your own special horse, contact Chris Wrona by emailing [email protected] You can also visit Formal Glory’s Facebook page to see other pieces they have created.
Go Special Halters (for Special Horses). Go Formal Glory. Go Eventing.