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Bitless/Tack/Training Questions

This is a discussion on Bitless/Tack/Training Questions within the Endurance Riding forums, part of the Riding Horses category
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    02-24-2013, 05:01 PM
  #1
Foal
Bitless/Tack/Training Questions

Hello everyone!
I have been interested in conditioning my 5 year old Tennesee Walking Horse to compete (and hopefully finish!!) in a 25mile endurance race sometime next year. I know that we won't be able to be a competitive endurance team, as he's the short stocky type, but he has a lot of drive and determination. We ride trail so often, normally 5 days a week, and he can go for about 2-3 hours at a gait and barely break a sweat. I decided it would be a good training goal to help us to keep pushing each other. I made my goal time for next year because I still am not confident enough to go on long trail rides alone, and my mom's horse who I ride with is 18 and can't stay at the pace I'd like for Sawyer.

Tack Questions
I've been scoping out this Endurance section for quite some time, and have found tons of useful information regarding tack, but still have a lot of questions

I currently am riding in a cheap EBay Australian Saddle. It fits my horse and I well, but it starting to show a lot of wear after only a few months which makes me nervous. I plan on upgrading to a Kimberly saddle before I embark on any long rides alone so I don't get stuck on the trail with a broken saddle. Anyone with other suggestions for a good light weight Australian for a good beginner price (under 1,000 preferably, but I could go a tad higher depending), toss them my way!

I also ride him in a Tom Thumb short shanked bit. He responds very well to this bit, but I don't like bits at all! He has a habit at scrunching his nose up, showing his teeth, and biting the air rapidly, making little choppy noises. I hate this, he only does in in his bridle. I've been told to put a cavesson on him, but if he's doing this because of pain, I don't want to mask it, I need to be aware.
For a long time I've wanted to switch him to bitless, but wasn't sure exactly what type. I see a lot of people here use little S hackamores. While I don't mind those, I quite prefer the looks of side pulls. I don't want it to 'look' so much like isn't wearing a bit since I may someday show him in flat shod gaited shows. This is my favorite sidepull:
The Bitless Bridle by Dr. Robert Cook, FRCVS, Ph.D., a humane alternative to the bit
Does anyone have any experience with this particular brand?

Another question, which may be stupid, but I've always wondered. What's with the COLORS? At first I didn't like on it, but it has grown on me SO fast! I've always been an all black tack person, but recently bought bright red polo wraps and a pad. I knew you all were converting me! Is there a particular reason that endurance riders choose such colorful tack? And how would my boy look all red and black tack!?
I've been eyeing the bright red sidepull from the link above, but know I'd have to show in something different, so I'd probably start with a black and get my red one after I had the rest of my gear.

Crupper... DUNDUNDUUUUN! My boy has a short back, no withers to speak of. And is possibly built downhill. I've been told Ill need a crupper. If I even braid my horses tail and touch his tail bone, he pulls it under his body and pins his ears, trying to escape if possible. He nearly falls when I clean under his tail in the bath rack. I think my horse would be scarred for life if something went under his tail and didn't come out. I ride very steep hills, I've never had my saddle slip foreward, only back. I am nervous about it happening during a competition though.. How would you possibly introduce a crupper to a horse like him? He has literally sat on his but like a dog when someone else held the water under his tail saying he'd get used to it. I don't want to put either one of us in danger.

Training
I've read a lot about training on these forums, and have a notebook filled with training techniques I've learned on here and I use it to log Our miles already. One of my issues has to do with Sawyer's training. My mother has a horse that rushes home, the minute you turn around on a trail, he starts acting up, knowing he's going home. I told my trainer that I never wanted Sawyer to pick up these bad habits. My trainer instructed me to always make him dog walk home. No gaiting, no jigging, just a calm walk. He is great coming home, I've never had a problem. I'm nervous that in the training I may ruin this letting him gait towards home. I have read that to start, do five miles at a trot (I'll substitute with a gait) walk him to cool down, and take his pulse. I don't want to gait him on the way home though, and don't want to go out 5 miles, take the pulse, and walk back five. Am I misreading anything? And if not, does anyone have any creative solutions for this issue? I know the no gaiting home may sound like a silly rule, but he's only been under saddle 8 months and has no bad habits, I don't want it give him an excuse to start.


Thank you so much for answering any of those questions. I understand it'll be hard to answer them all, so just a few is fine :) thank you for having a look at this and any advice you can give us :)
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    02-24-2013, 05:32 PM
  #2
Yearling
About the saddle and bit thing:

Synthetic kimberlys are around... 250? And I hear they are darn nifty and useful. But depending on the make (not entirely sure about this) the synthetics don't last as long as leather?

Your horse reacts the way it does to the bit because that bit is NOT a nice bit. Period. If you really want to go bitless, a little s hack or leather side pulls (leather to prevent rubbing on the nose, otherwise, just vet wrap or fleece) are good options.

If you want to go bitted, switch to a nicer bit that isn't so hard on the mouth.
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    02-24-2013, 05:34 PM
  #3
Yearling
As far as I understand with doctor cooks... Some horses can't handle the over under pressure and wig out. They feel trapped, or are confused with that specific type of pressure.

But I could be wrong.
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    02-24-2013, 05:38 PM
  #4
Foal
I am aware it's a nasty bit :/ I know he was in a full cheek before he as switched to the Tom Thumb, but I was told he ran through it and we no longer own one (or even the snaffle). I know that my neighbor (his previous owner) has a hackamores she said I could try on him, but its for a horse that was a bolter with no stop and has a gnarly shank that I don't like.
I'm hoping I can find a way to 'test' a few bitless options on him. I like the idea of a side pull because he did griund driving in a halter with a longe line connected to each side and was very responsive.
     
    02-24-2013, 05:39 PM
  #5
Foal
Could you give me a little info on the difference between the little S and a side pull? I've been shying away from hackamores purely due to lack of knowledge. I had always seen them with big shanks and crossed them off, but was just recently exposed to the little S on thee forums.
     
    02-24-2013, 05:48 PM
  #6
Yearling
If he ran through a nicer bit, he might even run through a hack. A strong bit should be for refining, not covering up holes which your boy has if he's running through bits.

I'd bring a trainer out and see what's up with that and downgrade him to a snaffle.

The easiest thing you can do to test out bitless options is to take a nylon halter and go for a hack in an arena to test out the brakes, turns, etc. Some horses work really well, others are "eh" some can't be trusted at all bitless.

I'm not entirely sure the mechanics of how a nylon halter relates to a side pull, but as I understand, they are "similiar" but not exact. Hopefully someone can clear that up.

A little S as I understand it is a lot nicer than a mechanical hack because the shanks are in an s curve, which gives kinder signalling that isn't as harsh as the straight shanks. A lot of barrel racers like them, and I hope to add one to my collection.

Sidepulls... Someone else is probably going to have to answer that.
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    02-24-2013, 06:00 PM
  #7
Foal
Thank you so much for your help :) I appreciate it
     
    02-24-2013, 06:14 PM
  #8
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by oliveoats    
Anyone with other suggestions for a good light weight Australian for a good beginner price (under 1,000 preferably, but I could go a tad higher depending), toss them my way!
I have a Down Under Master Campdraft Deluxe, and I have been very happy with it.
Down Under Master Campdraft Deluxe
It is lighter weight and closer contact than most aussies, and puts me in a proper dressage position instead of a chair seat that most of them do. The flaps are shorter than most too. Very well balanced ride, and quality material. It includes fitting the tree to your wither tracings. They often have them on the clearance page for great deals...
     
    02-24-2013, 08:33 PM
  #9
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheOtherHorse    
I have a Down Under Master Campdraft Deluxe, and I have been very happy with it.
Down Under Master Campdraft Deluxe
It is lighter weight and closer contact than most aussies, and puts me in a proper dressage position instead of a chair seat that most of them do. The flaps are shorter than most too. Very well balanced ride, and quality material. It includes fitting the tree to your wither tracings. They often have them on the clearance page for great deals...
Those are exactly the ones I was looking at, I really like them :) thank you for the review.
     
    02-24-2013, 10:10 PM
  #10
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deschutes    
I'm not entirely sure the mechanics of how a nylon halter relates to a side pull, but as I understand, they are "similiar" but not exact. Hopefully someone can clear that up.

A little S as I understand it is a lot nicer than a mechanical hack because the shanks are in an s curve, which gives kinder signalling that isn't as harsh as the straight shanks. A lot of barrel racers like them, and I hope to add one to my collection.

Sidepulls... Someone else is probably going to have to answer that.
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Halters are loose and twist. Plus, a correctly fitted halter sits higher on the face, where the facial crests end.

A properly fitted sidepull sits lower on the nose for leverage (like a hack), and fits more snugly and sometimes have slightly different designs to prevent twisting and keep the pressure where it's supposed to be.

I make a variety of sidepulls, some out of rope with knots on the noseband (like a training halter), and others that are flat and wide to prevent it from creating pressure points on the nose.

Either way, I would recommend seeing how your horse responds in a halter before switching to a sidepull. You'll get a little more control with a sidepull since it's lower on the face in the case that you need to pull their head around (like a one-rein stop), but you will hopefully not need that leverage. If your horse does not respond to a halter, you're unlikely to have much luck with a sidepull. If you have a rope halter, you can also clip your reins to both the cheek and chin piece at the same time, which pulls the cheek piece lower and keeps your reins in a more correct position, which would mimic a sidepull a little better. Heck, I know riders who just ride with that ;)
     

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