I bought the tie-down in Florida this spring, with the thought to use it pretty much like a bosal. But.. milder.
I tried it whn I got home to sweden again, but ended up with a rather confused and difficult horse, and just got frustrated. And a bit sad since I had wanted to try that for a while. But, it ended up in the closet.
I don't ride western, and has never used anything like a bosal. I've used various types of bits and bitlesses, like sidepulls, riding cavessons, muserolas, spanish curb, snaffle, mechanical hackamores and just a regular halter. But.. all these options has the reins attatched to the side of the nose/mouth (ok, not the curb or hackamore, but they still affect the sides separatly if you take just one rein, plus, the hack and curbs has been used together with snaffles or muserolas. ) while this thing have both reins together under the chin.
In realiy, that means that fingering on the left (or right) rein to correct one mistake or another in my seat or so, just doesn't work. This is something I've done quite frequently, I noticed, instead of moving my weight, I keep sitting bad and when my horse tries to make up for it I correct him by small signals in the rein.
Since he doesn't know neck-reining (no, he's not a western horse ;) )the turning was a bit confusing as well. And then I was already turning a lot with my body rather than the reins.
And, the most crucial thing is that, as the small picture in the picture below shows, I can only pull back the reins to stop him to a certain degree, after that all preassure will go to his throat and if he decides not to listen.. well, he can just let me sit there and pull ;)
Even if you ride in just a halter you can se-saw or pull harder or anything if the horse runs with you, or take a one-rein stop, but with this, thae options are pretty limited. So I need him to listen to me..
He never tried to run with me the last time, but he was very confused and the stops just didn't really work. You might see why.
This time is a different story :)
It worked great, he was a bit hesitant in the start since it feels different, and he kinda forgot his legs when I stopped him from the gait. ;) He also was a bit nervous since he sensed that I didn't have the controle he's used to, but I figure it's just good for him to take some responsibility for us :P
He pretty soon calmed down.
I was also forced to actually change my seat instead of just correcting Crow for obeying it, which was a very good lesson for me!
And the feeling of a truly free gallop, knowing that I have no way to force him or even tell him off sharply, and that he still let me decide where to go and what speed.. it was amazing.
Two hours of a trailride later, I'm really happy about this. It shows that our training is going the way I want; an obedient horse that willingly let me lead, who works on all kinds of bit or tack (that fit) and riding that isn't dependent on the mouth or beig strong fysically :)
We also made some shoulder ins, shoulder outs, turns, stops and leg yields on the way. He lowered his head more than he usually does, which is good since that's one of our pet-problems :) I need him to go more down-forward and stretch, rather than curling up or just keep the head slightly above the withers in height - without curling up.. it was starting to get better on the snaffle too, but I think I won another inch now ;)
His gait changed a little as well and I think to the better. It felt liss pacey at least, and even if that meant a more upwards movement that's a little rougher than the side-to-side movement, it was still very smooth and a good 4 beat :)
So in all it was a very good ride. And that's all I think..
Picture of the tie down :P
Oh, and we met a deer-thingy :P
(sorry, it's just cell phone pictures)