When choosing a new rig can quickly raise the question of what material you want to go for. There are two main types: plastic and leather. That is, so to speak, the first moment of choice.
With leather, you have several options; there are more colors and more models. Leather also ranges from cheaper harnesses to the more expensive handmade harnesses. With synthetic materials you quickly end up with the following brands Ideal Equestrian and Zilco. These are the two biggest players in the Dutch market and both brands are offered by The Menner.
Advantages plastic harness
Currently 60% of the harnesses sold are synthetic. This is because people today are increasingly reluctant to do all kinds of maintenance, which is the case with a leather harness. Plastic harnesses are regularly preferred because convenience is paramount. Just wash with the tap and you're done. Especially fanatical riders, who train several times a week in all weathers, do not like to constantly scrub the sand off their harnesses. Zilco uses a very strong plastic for its harnesses. Everything looks quite thin and it is light. A harness used to weigh 20 kilos. Now you have plastic harnesses that weigh less than 10 kilos. Ideal, among others, makes a plastic harness that looks like a leather harness. But this is less strong plastic, so it is made thicker. That also means it's a bit stiffer.
Advantages of leather harness
Leather molds a little nicer to the horse. It comes to you, so to speak, and as you maintain it, it gets softer. So leather has a nicer fit and is also available in many more colors. Of course it also smells nice, say that typical old-fashioned tack room smell, and plastic does not. For that reason alone, there are some people who don't like plastic and simply don't want it. In terms of repair, leather is a little easier to maintain. Plastic is also in principle repairable, but not every harness maker is happy with it. It is stiffer, sticks a bit, so to speak, and results in heavier work to repair. So whether you go for leather or plastic is ultimately very personal. Another person can't decide that for you. However, if you already know you're not much of a polisher, don't be tempted to take leather. Then take plastic.