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Bridle Horses

This is a discussion on Bridle Horses within the Horse Training forums, part of the Training Horses category
  • Les vogt classic vaqueros bit
  • Bridle horse training

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    09-11-2012, 07:57 AM
  #11
Super Moderator
No, I do not have any videos. I will find out if her owner will put one up of the filly that is close to ready to show in Non-Pro (if her owner does not chicken out). She is a Blue Roan by Mecom Blue out of our Smart Little Lena daughter.

'Up in the bridle' means that a horse can be ridden one handed with romal style reins. The spade bit is the epitome of bits for a bridle horse, but many are shown in bits with less port and more tongue relief than a half breed or a spade -- mouthpiece like a Mona Lisa.

Les Vogt is my favorite snaffle bit / bridle horse man. He has forgotten more than most would-be bridle horse people ever know. I highly recommend his videos and his 'Cowhorse U' program from anyone that is serious about learning to train a snaffle bit to bridle horse. He has won 15 World Championships. He or his students have trained several horses that we have raised.
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    09-11-2012, 10:46 AM
  #12
Showing
For years bridle horse referred to a highly trained horse that worked or the rider's seat and leg shifts. The spade enables fine tuning. That said, one also has to select the spade which best suits the horse.
     
    09-11-2012, 06:11 PM
  #13
Foal
I am a part of a facebook group called "Classic Horsemanship" that focuses on bridle horses. There are some really great hands on the website with videos. It is surprising as I have done a lot of research on it, the roots of "natural horsemanship" were founded from the principles taught by the old vaquero/buckaroo who trained bridle horses.
     
    09-11-2012, 06:19 PM
  #14
Foal
Bridle horses are fascinating to watch. They require a different form of training that works off of balance points for the horse, and takes a great length of time to develop a horse to accept the bridle. The spade bit is not a leverage bit instead it is a signal bit to signal the horse a cue is coming from the rider. To see a horse work a cow straight up in the bridle is incredible.
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    09-11-2012, 07:20 PM
  #15
Super Moderator
The idea that bridle horses ride mostly off of seat and legs is not so. They ride a great deal off of the reins and bit.

The bridle horse rides with a romal, so the rider cannot 'cheat' the horse with the customary finger between the reins. The hand encircles both of the reins and slides up and down the reins very little. The reins are seldom 'split' for training -- they are ridden 99.9% with the hand wrapped around both reins. If a horse requires two handed riding to correct the nose position or to achieve a little more 'bend', a snaffle or 4 reins are used.

Bridle horses, as a result of this lack of 'bend', ride a lot straighter than other 'reiners'. Some people think this lack of bend shows a 'stiff' horse. This is not true, either. He just rides 'straighter' when he is in the bridle. He rides with more arch in his neck, a vertical face and does not round his back as much as most high level reiners. He carries his head higher because his ultimate goal is to 'go down the fence' and work a cow at high speed. He has to 'look through the bridle' to do this and cannot be looking at the ground with his head between his knees. This difference has caused a lot fewer 'crossover' horses of late that show in both Reining and Reined Cowhorse.

Back to the Spade or the 'heavy bits' a finished horse shows in. The Spade has a brace above the lower part of the mouthpiece that looks like a copper spring. It allows movement of the cheek pieces. You can wiggle them back and forth. The more movement, the more 'pre-signal' a horse gets from the rider who is wanting to give it direction. Horses learn to carry a vertical face because the high ports and all of the heavy metal hangs on the top of the horse's head as opposed to lying on the horse's tongue. There is room for a 4" high port if the horse's head is vertical. That little bit of 'wiggle' is what the horse learns to listen to and then meticulously obeys the neck-rein.

Some horses work best with more weight, so some romal reins have 'slobber chains', some have 'weighted silver ferules' for more weight and others just have braided rawhide or latigo reins. I have picked up bridles with chains or weighted romals that weighed over 10 pounds.

Everything on a finish bridle and romal has a purpose. The 'purests' all ride with leather curb straps. The early day trainers I knew did not have a bridle in their tack room with a chain curb. They stayed in 4 rein set-ups until they had a horse finished enough to not require any 2 handed riding or any correction.

These finished horses are so light that a 'wiggle' of the reins or a change of 1 inch up, down or to either side with a rider's hand tells the horse all he needs to know. I have used a piece of light string to 'tie' a rider's hand to the saddle horn and give them less than 3 inches of string to move their rein hand. They had to be able to do this to be ready to show a bridle horse.
     
    09-11-2012, 08:20 PM
  #16
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherie    
The idea that bridle horses ride mostly off of seat and legs is not so. They ride a great deal off of the reins and bit.

I disagree, a true bridle horse is given a pre-signal through the reins then worked with the legs and the seat. A bridlehorsemen works hard to get it so that the reins are held in one hand and held in front of the saddle horn suspended, the less his hand moves the more trained the horse is looked at being.

The bridle horse rides with a romal, so the rider cannot 'cheat' the horse with the customary finger between the reins. The hand encircles both of the reins and slides up and down the reins very little. The reins are seldom 'split' for training -- they are ridden 99.9% with the hand wrapped around both reins. If a horse requires two handed riding to correct the nose position or to achieve a little more 'bend', a snaffle or 4 reins are used.

This is correct, if gaps are found once the horse has been placed in the bridle. A bridleman will go "down" to the two rein or even work the horse in the hackamore to fix the holes in the training. (correct head position, or workings of the feet for a maneuver)

Bridle horses, as a result of this lack of 'bend', ride a lot straighter than other 'reiners'. Some people think this lack of bend shows a 'stiff' horse. This is not true, either. He just rides 'straighter' when he is in the bridle. He rides with more arch in his neck, a vertical face and does not round his back as much as most high level reiners. He carries his head higher because his ultimate goal is to 'go down the fence' and work a cow at high speed. He has to 'look through the bridle' to do this and cannot be looking at the ground with his head between his knees. This difference has caused a lot fewer 'crossover' horses of late that show in both Reining and Reined Cowhorse.

The intention of the head position is to keep the horse in balance. A bridle horse is asked to do a number of complicated moves after one another. When working a bridle horse a bridleman's goal is to help that horse find proper balance to work those maneuvers. For instance a stop on a typical bridle horse will look different then what many would consider a reining stop. The horse still slides, however it is done in a balanced way so that it does not have to "collect" itself after the stop in order to perform a turn.

Back to the Spade or the 'heavy bits' a finished horse shows in. The Spade has a brace above the lower part of the mouthpiece that looks like a copper spring. It allows movement of the cheek pieces. You can wiggle them back and forth. The more movement, the more 'pre-signal' a horse gets from the rider who is wanting to give it direction. Horses learn to carry a vertical face because the high ports and all of the heavy metal hangs on the top of the horse's head as opposed to lying on the horse's tongue. There is room for a 4" high port if the horse's head is vertical. That little bit of 'wiggle' is what the horse learns to listen to and then meticulously obeys the neck-rein.

Each spade bit is carefully picked for each horse. The horse learns to "carry" the bit when it is in the two-rein stage. At this time the horse is learning to carry the bit in it's mouth. The spade bit is designed very differently then a typical western curb. There is no leverage to a spade bit, therefore it doesn't rely on being "packed" in the horses mouth. A real spade bit is a piece of art and can even cost tens of thousands of dollars. They are carefully designed to help the horse feel comfortable and relaxed when performing the maneuvers the rider asks of it. The weight of the bridle is not on the top of the head of the horse because the horse is carrying the bit in it's mouth. Again the bit does help the horse keep it's head in the balanced position with it's head near vertical.

Some horses work best with more weight, so some romal reins have 'slobber chains', some have 'weighted silver ferules' for more weight and others just have braided rawhide or latigo reins. I have picked up bridles with chains or weighted romals that weighed over 10 pounds.

Rein chains do provide weight for the reins and the riders signal. However the weight of real braided rawhide reins are enough to signal a horse. The purpose back in the old days was to preserve the life of the reins. It takes a long time or a lot of money to get your hands on a pair of good braided rawhide reins, and you will do anything to preserve the life of them. The reins also have buttons near the bottom of the reins. These serve two purposes, they send the signal more clearly to the horse, and they also absorb a lot of the sweat. It is a lot easier to replace a button then an entire rein that has been soured by horse sweat.

Everything on a finish bridle and romal has a purpose. The 'purests' all ride with leather curb straps. The early day trainers I knew did not have a bridle in their tack room with a chain curb. They stayed in 4 rein set-ups until they had a horse finished enough to not require any 2 handed riding or any correction.

Although bridle horses are ridden with a curb strap it is very different to what the majority of people see a curb strap. A spade bit works best with a "lift" of the reins, taking the float out of them, versus a traditional curb bit that is used by pulling back to use the leverage. Therefore the curb strap is used to protect the horse in situations, not as a way to increase leverage. The curb strap should only be in movement if the horse stumbles or the rider falls and accidentally pulls back on the reins. Thus the curb strap is fairly loose on a spade bit, so that it is never engaged. What you are referring to a "4-rein" is actually known as a "2-rein" The rider actually should already be working with one hand in the two-rein. The two-rein is a set of reins that come off of a small bosal known as a bosalita or pencil bosal, and the reins that come off of the bridle. This stage is very crucial to transfer over the learning from the hackamore stage to the bridle stage. As the horse is ridden it first is just learning to carry the bit, the rider does not use the bridle reins at all and focuses on the bosalita reins. However as the training progresses, the rider transitions the horse to working off of the bridle reins until the bosal reins are no longer needed. This takes a long time and a lot of skill.

These finished horses are so light that a 'wiggle' of the reins or a change of 1 inch up, down or to either side with a rider's hand tells the horse all he needs to know. I have used a piece of light string to 'tie' a rider's hand to the saddle horn and give them less than 3 inches of string to move their rein hand. They had to be able to do this to be ready to show a bridle horse.

The test of true bridle horse is if they can tie there reins on the bit with a single horse hair and work there horse. If a horse can be worked this light, it is said that his training is sufficient to be called a "bridle horse"
Bridle horses are a real lost art, they are beautiful to watch. I will try and find a youtube clip of a bridle horse working.
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    09-11-2012, 09:28 PM
  #17
Green Broke
I will add that the rein chains, in addition to protecting the reins and romal, serve to balance the spade. Sometimes thereins and romal alone do this, sometimes not. One adds and removes links to get the right balance.

Bridle horses do not all move with a vertical headset. For some horses that is appropriate, for others it is not.

And, I sure don't consider it a lost art. There are common ranch hands riding good bridles horses in their work everyday.
     
    09-11-2012, 09:48 PM
  #18
Super Moderator
I agree that it is not a lost art. As long as there are people around Like Les Vogt and Bobby Ingersol and the like are around, there will be always be people around to train and teach this art. I think (at least I hope) there will always be trainers, Buckaroos and Vaqueros that use these methods.

And yes, horses are supposed to pick up and carry the bit / bridle. If a horse is in the bridle good and has fully accepted it, you can pull the headstall off of his head and he will still be holding up the bit. You have to kind of 'rattle it around' to get him to drop it. But, if this was always the case, trainers would not pad the top of many bridles during training to keep horses from getting sores on the top of their heads from the heavy bridles. I have seen many trainers that folded up cotton cloths and put them under the headstalls.

And yes, 'slobber chains' are just that -- to protest the precious braided reins from slobber and other damaging moisture, etc. ---But they also add the weight that some horses need and they also help to find the balance point on the bits and romals. The weighted reins with the silver ferules do the same thing.

Have you gone to Les Vogt's website and looked at his bits and reins and accessories?
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    09-12-2012, 12:42 AM
  #19
Green Broke
I've never seen a horse that needed their poll padded because of the weight of the bit! I'm kind of shocked that the rider would continue to use a bit that did that to a horse. I wonder what the point is? Simply liking the silver on the shanks? What could the benefit be?

Do the guys you mention address that? I'm kind of a fly by internet user and am curious about it now.
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    09-12-2012, 03:50 AM
  #20
Foal
Is there any books that shows and or explains all of these things, especially the tack and correct usage? I've baan looking for a good book on western tack for a while but don't seem to be having much luck. Or are videos better?
     

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