I've been recently advised by an experienced rider to try chambon on my gelding for lunging in order to encourage him to develop proper muscling. I am generally against various gimmicks and gadgets, but it is true that he's having some difficulties in understanding how to use his topline correctly. What are the pros and cons of this tack and would it be okay to introduce it to him in some part of our lunging routine? I am not experienced with this type of tack myself, but I'd seek the help of my trainer to use it, of course.
Chambons are very "meh". They were a big deal back in the 90's. If you want something for lunging I highly suggest the pessoa system. I think it encourages the horse to use itself, makes the horse round through the back and encourages proper movement.
I used one on my horse for a while when I first got him. His previous riders had him wound up really tightly and he did not understand anything about reaching forward/down under saddle. Since he really works well with pressure/release I found that the chambon was helpful in getting him to understand about stretching long and low. Once he figured out the concept and we started doing it under saddle I stopped using the chambon. Posted via Mobile Device
I am not a big fan of them, even for lunging. They tend to produce an idiosyncratic false headset, you could go to a show in the 90s and look around and point out the "chambon heads" - head and neck higher than ideal, bent at third vertebra, and no relaxation or stretch forward. I think this is because the main mechanism of a chambon is poll pressure, and some horses don't work well or learn to brace against the poll pressure.
I think the recommendation for the Pessoa system is sound, or my favorite (and cheaper method) is a surcingle/sliding draw rein set up for lunging - run the draw rein from a high ring on the surcingle, through the bit and then between the front legs to the surcingle. With a knowledgable handler that will keep the horse moving forward enough to get the stretch forward and down, lunging in this setup can be very effective.
Maura, It seems like you may be confusing the chambon with something else- as the only thing that it does encourage is low and stretched forward :p
Personally, I find them to be one of the best pieces of equipment i've ever invested in.
I love lungeing- I think it is super useful for horses, they get to work without any disturbances on their back. So, for equipment, I find:
Pessoa- No thank you, I find that horses go behind the vertical and generally disengage in it.
De gouge(Only mentioned because I alllwayys confused de gouge with chambon) Also not a favourite of mine because it too, can encourage horses to creep behind the vertical.
Chambon encourages stretching down and forward, which is what you want (well what I want anyways :p)
Chambon- see how the horse stretches out and forward, while still being low enough to encourage the back to come up and those muscles to work! :)
Au contraire, here is a de gouge- see how the horse is encouraged to bring the nose to the chest (or rather just unable to poke his nose out)
Similarly, the pessoa- but added in that the movement of the back legs can jar the horse in the mouth :)
Of course, all these systems are (like everything else in the horse world) fine when used properly. I'm just very very picky about my horses going behind the vertical or anything of the kind, and therefore the chambon is the best system for me, and I hiiiighly reccomend it. Sustainable dressage also has a great article comparing these systems :) (Disclaimer- none of these pictures are mine!)
I have never had a problem with a horse going BTV in a Pessoa. That is a new one to me. I have however seen a lot of horses hallow out in the back with a Chambon.
I am a huge fan of lunging. My horse spends a good chunk of time on the lunge line in the winter and i've never gotten desired results from a Chambon(and yes I know how to adjust them) but I have had great results in the Pessoa system.
At the end of the day it all comes down to preference. Its the same as the side rein debate, or draw reins, german martingales, bare foot vs shod, snaffle vs gag bit etc etc etc etc etc etc...
No, Bob, it didn't mistake it for another piece of equipment. My opinion is based on my somewhat limited experience with head setting devices; but there was a period of time in the late 80s - early 90s when "chambon heads" were in evidence in every warm up area at a show. Now, perhaps somewhere there's a horse or horses that learned to carry itself correctly using a chambon, but that's outside my experience.
Actually, so is a de gouge, German Martingale and the Pessoa system. (I also think the while a chambon is less coercive than a de gouge, the mechanism is still poll pressure, to which a significant minority of horses do not respond well.). I'm a bit of a traditionalist, as I was mentored by a very fine and old school horse person who believed if you couldn't accomplish your training goals with consistent, thoughtful flatwork in a snaffle over time, you needed to rethink them.
I only broke with the philosophy twice in my training career, and both times were older OTTBs who were very confirmed in traveling hollow, and for them both, I found a long period of lunging in the sliding draw rein setup I described above built up their top lines enough that I could persuade them to travel correctly from the saddle.
However, this is absolutely a "Your mileage may vary." situation. Someone, somewhere use such devices and produce a correct horse, but for me, I'll stick with what has worked for me so often in the past.
The pessoa system is usually sold and supposed to be used with a lunging cavesson to keep the mouth from being jarred. There can be a bit used with it but the system isn't supposed to be attached to the mouth until the horse is used to the system and isn't relying on the tug between the two directing their head set. I use it and it's helped every horse I've used it on become balanced and hold their heads correctly. Although I've never used the others I did look into a chambon, I wasn't fond of the horse's head being stuck down. I liked how the pessoa had different levels so I could ease them into the set needed instead of just tying their head down and hoping they didn't strain anything. And yes I know that last statement was dramatic and not how it's done but that's how I saw it. I'd say that as long as the horse knew the general head set you want any system would work because locked in a downward set would already be partially expected and there would be less likelihood of strained neck/back muscles.
Wow, that's a lot of opinions - thanks, everyone! My horse responds very well to poll pressure and the idea is to introduce chambon to him for that "lightbulb" moment (not regular, everyday lunging sessions), as he is quite opinionated and has hardships in accepting that a new way of carrying himself might be given a shot. I've heard of the Pessoa system, but I don't have anyone to borrow it from and it is quite on the expensive side around here, so I guess I'll leave it for later.