Pan Am Games, US FOC, & CHIO Aachen: TCS Bridles Connect Performance and Comfort
Lamplight Equestrian Center, Chicago, IL (August 29, 2019) - From Aachen to Chicago to Lima, some of dressage's recent Pan Am Medalists, international superstars, and National Champions are connecting performance and comfort in the form of their innovative bridles. The Tota Comfort System, an innovative bridle design and line of tack, incorporates the delicacy of the equine head, jaw, and facial nerves to deliver an unprecedented level of confidence and comfort to equine athletes. International riders at the CHIO Aachen in Germany, the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima Peru, and the US Dressage Festival of Champions in Chicago, Illinois chose the TCS design to guide their mounts down centerline and to the highest of accolades.
Now Intermediare I National Champions, Endel Ots and Lucky Strike () arrived at Lamplight as the 2018 Markel/USEF Developing Prix St. Georges Dressage National Champions. Moving up to the Small Tour, Ots and Lucky once again proved their mettle, with a wire to wire victory after winning the Prix St. Georges, Intermediare I, and Intermediare I Freestyle to clinch the Championship. The 9-year-old dark bay Hanoverian gelding's choreography and rhythm set to the music of Frank Sinatra and TV's Mad Max earned the combination their highest score in the Freestyle (74.81%) for a total of 74.255% and the national title. Ots rides Lucky in a Tota Comfort System double bridle and Neue Schule bits from The Dressage Connection in Wellington, Florida.
"I started using the Tota Comfort bridle in the middle of the qualifying season," said Ots. "I saw that Lucky was much happier and more comfortable in the connection. Having a horse that is comfortable in the bridle and will confidently step into the hand is everything for me. If they aren't, then everything is compromised. My favorite thing about Lucky is his willingness to work and try in the show ring. At the Festival of Champions, the highlight was having my Pan Am teammates supporting me; it meant the world that they could come, and it was the same feeling for me when we were in training camp. My goals for Lucky are to finish him to a happy and healthy Grand Prix horse, and to enjoy the journey with him."
Tina Irwin, a long-time Team Tota dressage rider, and her FEI superstar Laurencio Canada’s Tina Irwin and Laurencio (Laurentino x Donnerhall) took the Canadian Team to the medal podium at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru. Canada won Team Gold, while Irwin earned herself Individual Silver for the second time in Pan Am history; she clinched Individual Silver in 2011 in Mexico.
"“I have had a very positive experience using the Tota Comfort System with my horses,” said Irwin. “Laurencio became much steadier in the contact and seemed a lot more content when I switched. I really felt a dramatic change in him and we started a winning streak soon after. I was super happy with our ride [in Lima] ride until the very last centreline, where my horse decided to give a preview of Tokyo and did a bunch of one-tempis. It cost me some marks, I’m sure, but I was really happy with the rest of the Freestyle, he was great.”
Representing Team USA at Aachen, Katherine Bateson-Chandler and Adrienne Lyle both rode into the spectacular Deutsch Bank dressage stadium trusting their connection to a Tota Comfort System bridle. In the Grand Prix of Aachen CDIO5* Freestyle, Bateson-Chandler and Alcazar (aka Lonzi, Contango x Ferro) finished with an impressive 77.690% for 12th against some of the world's best dressage combinations, including serial Olympic Medalist and recently named 2019 European Champions, Isabel Werth and Bella Rose 2. "It meant so much to have Lonzi at Aachen," said Bateson-Chandler. "The bridle is truly fantastic. Anything that makes Lonzi happier and more comfortable in his job like the Tota Comfort System will always be a part of our routine."
Adrienne Lyle and US-bred Harmony's Duval (Rousseau x Riverman) put in a personal best score of 75.391% in Aachen's CDI4* Grand Prix to finish 6th. "I am beyond thrilled with the performance from Harmony's Duval at Aachen," said Lyle. "Duval has been in my life since he was saddle broke, and its been an amazing and rewarding journey with him."
Originally offered as a bridle extension, the Tota Comfort System noseband connects to any snaffle or double bridle, and is available in black leather, black patent, and black leather with white padding. The Dressage Connection’s exclusive collaboration with Hennig has created a line of Tota Comfort System double and snaffle bridles, including the recently released Montauk, Freeport, and Bimini designs.
Riders competing at the international level, in both jumping and dressage, should also note that the Tota Comfort System’s stabilizing chin strap replaces the throatlatch in FEI classes. Horses competing nationally may use both the chin strap and the throatlatch. Tota Comfort System Hennig bridles account for this by including an easily removable throatlatch on their double bridles, making the transition seamless and elegant.
The Tota Comfort System, a patent pending, revolutionary bridle design, has been approved by the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI) for use in international competition. The design centers around a variation of the typical noseband and cheek piece structure, creating more stability in the jaw, a reduction of poll pressure, and alleviation of stress on the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and facial nerves. Created and offered exclusively by The Dressage Connection, the combination of anatomical expertise and elite tack design is becoming the new standard for bridle comfort across disciplines.
The catalyst for this revolutionary tack design was Canadian & US Olympians Ashley Holzer and Sue Blinks, who were seeking to improve unsteadiness in the bridle that hampered the connection between horse and rider as well as the horse’s overall performance. The unnecessary pressure applied by traditional bridles to the poll, facial nerves, and TMJ joint was detracting from her horse’s natural abilities, from those competing in the Grand Prix to the FEI Young Horse classes. Holzer and Blinks brought their ideas on improving the traditional bridle structure to Charles Tota of The Dressage Connection, and together the three devised a curved cheek piece and stabilizing chin strap.
All photos courtesy of US Equestrian, unless otherwise noted