Review of the DeLuxe Leather Lined Pony Breeding Hobbles from Sinvention
Whether breeding, grazing, or just hanging around the barn, a pair of hobbles can be put to use on all but the best behaved of human equines.
A pair of hobbles, whether fashioned from rope, nylon, or leather, is a useful addition to a human pony's tack chest. They can be used in a variety of scenes and are often a useful alternative to tying off a pony's reins when the latter is undesired or impossible (e.g. if you're in a field having a picnic and you don't want your pony running away with the cart and leaving you stranded).
I've tended to favor using bio-horse hobbles over bondage cuffs not just because of cost but also because the bio-horse hobbles have a certain look to them that is hard to emulate in a pair of leather cuffs locked together. I couldn't really put my finger on it until I learned about the DeLuxe Leather Lined Pony Breeding Hobbles by Sinvention. Upon looking at a photo of the Sinvention hobbles, it hit me: the welded hobble link chain.
The heavy duty, welded, livestock grade chain that is permanently attached to the hobbles is what gives bio-horse hobbles that unique look, and the Sinvention hobbles use that very same chain. I immediately wanted a pair of the stylish cuffs that also incorporated the contrasting utilitarian chain link.
While they aren't the most expensive piece of kit you'll find, at $170 CAD, they aren't inexpensive either. So I tucked my desire for them away until recently when I heard they were having a summer sale. After clicking through to the pony play gear page, low and behold, I found that the DeLuxe Breeding Hobbles were on sale for $145 CAD.
When I clicked further, I discovered that I could customize colors even though it was a sale order. Score! Motivated by the sale, I decided to place an order.
Ordering and Shipping
My previous experience with Sinvention was a good one, a very good one. So, when I saw that their breeding hobbles were on sale, I didn't hesitate to jump at the opportunity to own another piece of handcrafted pony gear from their workshop.
Predictably, I choose black on red (the colors of my show tack) before quickly paying via Paypal (argh...$10 shipping charge. Not the end of the world, but to get free shipping, I would need to spend another $50 USD. Between my eagerness to get the item and the fact that I couldn't find anything else I really wanted for $50-60, I bit the bullet and placed the order as is).
Order confirmation appears in Paypal, and I'm immediately hoping the next knock on the door is the postman with my hobbles. As I calm myself, I wonder if "black on red" is red piping with a black foreground like I imagined, or if it means that the buckling straps are black and the rest of the cuff is red.
I decided to ask this question via email and received a prompt response (I'm still amazed at the rapidity of their responses - they responded within half an hour) that "black on red" means an all red cuff with black locking straps (in retrospect, this is actually detailed on the product page).
I explained that what I really wanted was an all black cuff with a hint of red, and I mentioned that I really liked the way my pony point trainers (which I had previously ordered) looked (i.e. all black with a red leather inner lining that, when worn, sported a subtle red piping) and was told that it was no problem.
And so the package arrives only a few days after it shipped. The $10 shipping fee covers priority mail (within North America), and the hobbles are shipped in a non-descript box. The customs label (required for international shipping; Sinvention is in Canada, and I'm in the U.S.) labels the contents - accurately, but discreetly - simply as leather goods.
Carrying the box back to the house (unlike the pony point trainers shipping box, the box the hobbles were packaged in fit nicely within my mailbox) yielded the occasional low metallic rattle as the contents shifted and evoked anticipatory flutters in my stomach as I imagined how soon that very same sound would be made with the hobbles locked about my legs.
Having ordered from Sinvention before, I was prepared for the careful packaging of the hobbles in lovely red tissue paper. Nevertheless, being greeted by the intoxicating smell of fresh leather felt like coming home, and the handwritten note telling me to enjoy my new toys was icing on the cake.
Gently removing the hobbles from the box was reminiscent of my last order from Sinvention: the hobbles felt solid and heavy. A toy that would stand up to all the abuse I could throw at it all the while flashing a smug little smile as if to say "is that all you've got?" To back up the physicality of that feeling is the lifetime warranty mentioned in the mini pamphlet attached to the hobbles.
I was pleased with the way the way the coloring came out. The all black with a hint of red piping showing saucily around the rim of the leather cuffs matches the rest of my show tack beautifully.
The Sinvention breeding hobbles are the definition of heavy duty. The links are freaking huge, and the D-rings attaching the chain to the hobbles look like they could double as attachment points for towing a 747. Forget about livestock grade, this is big game grade and then some.
Your pony is not escaping from these. Even if he could escape from these hobbles, just looking at the thickness of the leather and steel, and feeling the weight of them on his ankles should be enough to dash any hope of escape he might have entertained.
The hobbles are constructed of two thick leather cuffs with dual lockable straps and a soft inner lining, each 4" tall, sporting huge integrated D rings made of 3/8" steel with a diameter of just over 2". Each D ring is attached to a 3" long, 1/4" thick steel chain, which are then joined together via a 3.25" inch long swivel link.
Practically speaking, this translates into a maximum cuff separation distance of almost exactly one foot: short enough to keep your pony out of trouble but long enough to let him shuffle around a bit and help keep his balance in hooves.
The length of separation is the same as that used in most bio-horse hobbles (this makes sense since Sinvention is using a bio-horse hobble chain link) and is a bit less than leg irons often used on human prisoners (which often have a chain of 15 inches or so).
The photos on the product page show a pair of all black hobbles, but my understanding is you are free to customize the colors of the leather (I don't have a complete list of all the colors available, but I would guess you have a reasonable number of options). You can customize the color of all three portions of the leather cuff: the dual lockable straps, the cuff itself, and the inner lining leather.
As I mentioned earlier, I chose to go with a black cuff, black lockable straps, and a red inner lining. In the photo above, you can see how the black-black-red motif looks on the outside (right cuff), which is how it would appear to others when worn, and on the inside (left cuff).
After having fun feeling their weight and listening to the chain clanking as I shifted them from hand to hand, my anticipation had built too high for me to resist trying them on. So I headed out to the garden with hobbles in hand only to realize halfway there that I was missing something: hooves. After all, the hobbles are designed for pony play, and my biggest reason for purchasing it was the genuine livestock chain link, so wouldn't it be appropriate to hobble hooves instead of feet?
Shouldering my anticipation, which easily outweighed my new toy by ten to one at this point, I headed back inside, grabbed my hoof boots before double-timing it back outside. I plunked myself on the nearest bench and hurriedly laced up the boots - though in my eagerness, I must have fumbled the laces a dozen times, and probably took longer than normal to transition from heel to hoof.
Finally, I get to the hobbles, savoring the stiffness of the new leather as I closed them around my ankles and buckled each strap, making sure to tuck each in its keeper.
Getting up from the bench, I have to take a couple steps to find my balance in the hooves (as is always the case for me). I half expected the hobble chain to clang menacingly against its stops and trip me. Instead I simply heard a couple loud, but benign, clinks as the links brushed each other without impeding my efforts to right myself in the boots.
The foot of space between the cuffs allowed by the hobbles is more the ample to allow a bit of scrabbling for balance, but as I explored the limits of the tether, not quite enough to achieve a comfortable walk (though I expect this may vary depending on your height).
This makes sense of course. The purpose of a pair of hobbles is to prevent a pony from wandering too far away (e.g. when grazing, etc.) or to prevent kicking, while still allowing a degree of freedom of movement. Now, I'm not big on grazing personally, but I am a fan of wondering off, the occasional playful nudge with a hoof, and, of course, generally getting into mischief, so I know I will get a lot of use of a pair of these (actually if we'd a pair of these awhile back, I wouldn't have got very far after untying my reins from a tree branch with my lips).
The swivel link in the middle of the hobble chain also reduces the likelihood of tripping over a taut chain, and I found it allowed me greater movement of my ankle when lifting my legs (I mean hooves), which would be a great advantage during vet play (or farrier play).
Well, after fastening the hobbles over my hooves cautiously exploring, I had to really test the limits of my permitted movement, so I decided to try and run or jog back to the house (I figured I could snag a quartet of locks for the hobbles at the same time).
As you can imagine I didn't even make it through a third of my first stride before I was abruptly brought up short with an angry clank, but I didn't fall, and I was able to find my balance again fairly easily. I grudgingly admired the hobbles and their seemingly perfect chain length.
With that failed attempt, I decided to shuffle-walk my way back to the house (I still wanted those locks) to get a better feel for moving around in them. A rather short-strided walk (again this will probably depend on your height) caused me no further issues except a tinge of annoyance at having to move so slowly.
Although the hobbles give me enough length to take steps somewhere between a short shuffle and a slow walk, there's no way I could sneaking off when wearing them. The jangling from simply shifting my weight would announce my presence more effectively than a pair of nipple bells (listen to the audio of the video at top of page for an example).
I found the cuffs to fit me fairly well. The lockable straps of the leather cuffs have 5 holes for adjustment, and I was right in the middle of the adjustment range with the third (middle) hole working well both over hoof boots or on bare skin.
Over the hoof boots, the straps were comfortable fastened at the second loosest hole (one looser than the middle hole). The straps could have been buckled one hole tighter with a little effort, but I didn't want to squish down the leather of the hoof boots.
Putting the hobbles on over my bare legs, the straps felt comfortably snug at the middle (third) hole. They could have been tightened one more notch, but that would be a bit uncomfortable and certainly not necessary to prevent me from removing the hobbles.
I'm giving the Sinvention DeLuxe Leather Lined Pony Breeding Hobbles 5 out of 5 stars. It always kills me to have to give out a perfect rating, but I'd have to make something up to say something negative about my experiences with them.
Despite the name, the pony play breeding hobles from Sinvention can be used for a variety of scenes (vet play, farrier, in the stall to prevent kicking during tack up, grazing, hobbling a cart pony during a break in pulling, breeding scenes, etc.). To me, the appeal of these hobbles is the use of a real livestock hobble chain complimented by the beautiful craftsmanship of the leather cuffs. That is the best I can explain it.
If the idea of dedicated hobbles for pony play appeals to you, I really don't think you can go wrong with these. They're not inexpensive, but they're not any more than you would pay for a quality pair of leather bondage ankle cuffs. The cuffs on these hobbles won't be doubling as a way to spreadeagle your partner, but if you're looking to restrain your human pony in elegance and style with a dash of authenticity, then look no further.
In my opinion, these hobbles make a perfect combination with hoof boots (which are already slightly difficult to move around in) because they do allow enough room for mistakes and finding balance and footing, but they do require you to keep you hooves fairly close together, and thus not only prevent rapid movement, but also give a very real - but still manageable - sense of restriction.
For example, awhile back my trainer at the time had me in hoof boots in a strappado tie. She debated locking my hooves together (and likely enjoyed my look of distress when she floated the idea to me), but deemed it too dangerous (and I would agree). Had we had a pair of these hobbles, it would have been the perfect amount of additional restriction in movement without a real risk of me loosing my balance and dislocating my shoulders.
In summary, the hobbles are a fairly specialized piece of kit, but as such are a unique and awesome product that are worth every penny if you enjoy the perfect blend of style and authenticity they have to offer.
The deluxe lined breeding hobbles can be purchased for $170 CAD directly from Sinvention. Keep an eye out for sales, which can cut the list price by $25 CAD on occasion.