Wellington, Florida (March 12, 2016) – Four of the top Small Tour competitors on the Florida winter dressage circuit all have one thing in common: they trust their connection and the comfort of their horses to the Tota Comfort System. With top finishes in the international Prix St. Georges and Intermediare I divisions throughout the past 5 weeks of CDI competition, Diane Creech, Jaimey and Tina Irwin, and Susanne Hamilton discovered the Tota Comfort System in 2016 and are using it to their advantage in the show ring. Developed by Olympic dressage riders and tack expert Charlie Tota, the Tota Comfort System has come to redefine the traditional bridle paradigm by relieving pressure on the poll and facial nerves.

Tina Irwin

Tina Irwin

Canada’s Tina Irwin and Laurencio were at the top of the game in the FEI Intermediare I Freestyle CDI 1* during the 7th week of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, scoring a 78.708% to win the class. The score currently holds the record high for the year in the division. Only in his second year of international competition, Laurencio (Laurentino x Donnerhall) was imported by Irwin as a 4-year-old and had an exceptionally successful 2016, winning 9 international classes consecutively and 12 total. In addition to Laurencio’s winning ways, Irwin also recently debuted an 11-year-old Oldenburg mare, Fancy That, in the Intermediare 2 with a score of over 72%. Co-owned by Irwin, her husband Jaimey, and Rocket One, LLC, Fancy That’s sensitivity to poll pressure and in her temporomandibular joint (TMJ), made her an ideal candidate for the Tota Comfort System.

“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 nosebands. I really felt a dramatic change in him and we started our winning streak soon after. Fancy has always had a strong reaction on her TMJ pressure points and it just made sense to alleviate that pressure and allow her to be more comfortable in her work, especially now as we move towards the higher degree of collection required for the Grand Prix work.” Jaimey Iriwn and Donegal V, who also use the Tota Comfort System in the international arena, swept the Small Tour earlier in the season with scores to 75.475% and placed third behind Tina in week 7’s FEI Intermediare I Freestyle CDI I* with a 75.625%.

Tina and Jaimey Irwin Dressage Rdiers

Tina and Jaimey Irwin

With the Tota Comfort System becoming almost standard in the international competition arena, another Canadian and successful CDI large and small tour rider, Diane Creech, noticed the altered noseband around the show but was hesitant to change up her routine. However when one mare began showing signs of discomfort in the poll, she decided to give the Tota Comfort System a shot, and with exceptional results.

Diane Creech

Diane Creech

“When one of my mares began shaking her head and just didn’t seem completely comfortable in the bridle, we decided to try out the Tota Comfort System,” stated Creech. “There was an immediate shift; the head shaking stopped immediately and it was clear she was more comfortable in the Tota Comfort System. From then on I’ve used the bridle on all of my mounts in both training and competition, as it is simply a more comfortable piece of equipment for the horses. Competing at this level you can’t afford mistakes, and discomfort in any measure leads to tension that ultimately creates problems or leads to lower scores. Dressage is like a puzzle, and the Tota Comfort System is a piece of that puzzle that makes the horses more comfortable and creates a more pleasant ride and experience for the horses.” In 2017, Creech and Leatherdale Farm’s Oldenburg stallion Robbie W have taken a number of top CDI finishes, including a sweep in the CDI small tour division at the Gold Coast Opener CDI2 with scores through 71% and a 7th place finish in the FEI Intermediare I Freestyle CDI 1 during week 7 of the Adequan Global Dressage Festival with scores over 71%.

Another decorated CDI competitor, Susanne Hamilton has also discovered the benefits of using the Tota Comfort System on her competition horses. Most recently she and Lutz, a Halflinger gelding by Argument, knocked the warmbloods down a peg in the FEI Intermediare I CDI, scoring 68.158% to finish 6th overall. Along with Grand Prix stallion Lord Locksley (Unkenruf x Lida), Lutz and a number of Hamilton’s mounts all train and compete in the Tota Comfort System.

“In my opinion, all bridles should be custom fit,” said Hamilton. “My stallion has large cheeks and a comparatively shorter head, which makes him difficult to fit in a standard, off the shelf bridle. I’ve found with the Tota Comfort System there is an immediate difference, including less pressure in the hand, more freedom for the tongue and overall the horses perform better. Charlie takes the time to ensure the bridle is fit properly and doing its job, so that the horses are happier and more comfortable doing theirs.”

Susanne Hamilton Dressage haflinger

Susanne Hamilton and Lutz

A patent pending, revolutionary bridle and tack design intended to improve comfort for the horse and connection for the rider, the Tota Comfort System Noseband creates stability in the jaw, reduces poll pressure, and alleviates stress on the tempromandibular joint (TMJ) and facial nerves. Improving lightness and harmony in the contact was the inspiration behind its inception, as Olympians Ashley Holzer and Sue Blinks sought to improve unsteadiness caused by traditional bridle designs. The unnecessary pressure applied to the poll, facial nerves, and TMJ decreased the horse’s comfort and ability to step freely into the bridle, detracting from overall performance. 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 to alleviate pressure and increase the horse’s comfort. The FEI and — USEF approved the Tota Comfort System just before the 2016 winter circuit in Wellington, Florida, and the benefits of the advanced bridle design has brought improved comfort and connection to dressage arenas around the world. Available as a complete bridle system or noseband attachment, the Tota Comfort System is offered exclusively through its website and retail partners.

Story Courtesy of Equinium Sports Marketing
All Photos Courtesy of Sara Hellner Photo

In memory of the beautiful, talented and beloved Lutz: February 17, 2003 – April 18, 2017.