Working a Mini in cart, Bridle Questions?
I am completely green to driving, I am trying to train my mini in it, she is doing okay, she is the kind of pony that just walks wherever you point her nose.
I recently saw a photo of someone sharing their miniature on the trail, all hooked up, heading along, and instead of a bridle, they had a simple rope halter, with their reins hooked up.
Now, my mini doesn't use a bit, but just uses her bridle with the blinders.
Do you think I should try a plain halter? have you ever heard of that (or a bitless driving bridle) or seen it before?
I am a believer in bridles with blinders and bits. I think you are asking for trouble driving in just a halter.
There is a reason why people have been driving with blinder bridles for centuries.
I personally would not want to drive at the same drive with someone just driving in a halter. They certainly would not pass any saftey check.
Blinders and bits are for safety. Back when I started my mare I asked some of the same questions and was repeatedly told to use both of them. Why? Simply because driving is dangerous. Many will even tell you that it is more dangerous than riding because you don't have full contact with the horse, you only have verbal cues and your reins as cues, and the horse is in front of you, pulling you, sometimes at high speeds. The only contact that you have with the animal is a bit. Take that away and what do you have? Mutal trust, rainbows, and cookies? Not quite. Now I know that many horses are very willing, sane, and trusting- but they are horses- not people. They don't understand the things that we do and even the most sane of horses will at some point spook or bolt. How are you going to control it? Even a 2-300 pound miniature can do a LOT of damage when afraid, believe me.
Add to that the fact that in a halter, you really have no way of keeping constant contact with the horse. In a halter, its either you're pulling or you're not, there is no happy medium. With a bit, the horse can feel even the slightest movement of your fingers and react to it- something you just cant do with a piece of rope or nylon. My mare responds to me before I hardly put any pressure at all. A movement of my pinky is enough to have her halted square. A slight squeeze will send her in whichever direction that I please.
Lastly, the blinders. I know that many people think that they are cruel. They are anything but. By limiting the horse's field of vision you are shutting down reactive parts of their brain and 'containing it' in a small space that you can work with. Your average horse will not bolt in a direction that he cannot see, and so he will usually go FORWARDS, which is ALWAYS what you want when dealing with a frightened animal. A spinning or sidestepping carriage horse is a deadly carriage horse.
There are many friendly bitting options for horses nowadays. I personally drive two of my four in a halfcheek snaffle. Another is driven in an O ring snaffle, and the last is driven in a french link. All four respond beautifully and I rarely have to do more than flex my hand to cue them, but if upon occasion I did run into a situation where I needed to stop NOW, I would have the means to do so. There are no one reined stops and tiny circles in driving. You need at least a little bit of power.
Well said, Endiku!!! My like button only works half the time. But Like!!
Thanks for the input! I wasn't sure, my mini I drive with is so dull, she refuses to trot, she just walks. But anyway, my bridle seems bulky on her, and the bit seems to not work with it. Maybe I'll have to try a different bit? I can post pics later.
What bits do you suggest on a mini? She has a regular d-ring snaffle right now.
What is the size of your d-ring?
I used a half-cheek snaffle to start my four year old mare, and she does really well with it. Its great for teaching them to steer because you can't pull it through their mouths and it puts pressure on the side of their jaw as well as the inside to help them realize where you want them to go. Mullen mouths are the best IMO but my girl doesn't like it. I use a single jointed snaffle. She also dislikes stainless steel, so I use copper. Its all preference though.
As for the bridle, some of the minis just have such petite faces that its hard to find one that fits. I bought mine from Amberside Horse Harnesses (in Canada) and I really like it. The first one they gave me was messed up but they sent me another and have great customer service as well as 'fitting' guides. Your mare will most likely need a 3 1/2 inch bit but the bridle size (A or B) will depend on her head size. My mare is 34" and wears a B sized bridle. It fits well and can also fit our 36" miniature gelding. It is also fairly good quality for the price ($46 without check reins. Except I live in Texas so it ended up being more like $75 xD) The only thing I dont like about it is that the noseband fits a little too high IMO. It might just be my girl's weird face though xD
pictures of my bridle (and mare wearing it xD)
unless you plan on showing though, and your bridle fits correctly, I wouldnt worry about how 'bulky' your current bridle looks on her :)
Thanks a Bunch Endiku!
You mare is beautiful.
I know this is sad, but because the local place we buy our tack from is not very good, I don't know my bit size, I think I would like to look into the half-cheek snaffle.
See, my mini is a little draft thing (I run a petting zoo one week in the summer at our local fair where she is the star, and they have the Mini Pullers there and I had a kid arguing with me saying he'd pay 2 grand for her for his team, we adopted her for like 900) So my problem is her head is too big and the rest of her tack is too big on her body even if it perfect on her head. ugh. But I think my bridle looks very similar to yours except mines the nylon, which I got because she will just be a trail driving type pony, for fun, so no showing :)
Again Thanks for the info!
I will post some shots of my mare tomorrow for some input.
Okay, I put her bridle on her quick at feeding time
(Note; Shes not getting strangled! she has legit, like, 2 inches + of fuzzy winter cuteness)
Sorry for the size, I didn't know my iPhone would take such big pictures. I can get better pictures later with my DSLR. I suggest zooming out with your browser to view the full pic at one
with the bit in, her muzzle strap won't latch under, its too big.
Is that a very vital part? or could of be like kind of make-shifted? I have leather laces of something I can attach it with if that would be ok.
Thanks for everyone's help!
Your pony is too cute.
The bridle looks good just a few adjustments.
Could your bit be on backwards? Not sure, but it looks like it is not sitting where it should, check it out, it just looks like it is pointing down or something.
See if you can straighten out the brow band so it is straight across his forehead and doesn't go up and wrap around his ears, that might cause him some discomfort in the ear area.
See what happens if you push the blinder stays further up the brow band, that should straighten the brow band, but it might tighten the blinders closer to his eyes. They are plenty tight, so try not to make tighter.
The noseband, the noseband is important in that it keeps the bridle from bowing out at the cheeks, and allowing the horse to see behind him. If your noseband does not work, by all means try a piece of leather or anything else to get by till something more permanent comes along.
Again he looks so cute!!
What a cutie pie!
If your mare doesn't tend to chew on the bit, I wouldn't think that the noseband is extremely crucial, but I wouldnt that my word as law. I'm still learning a lot ;) Perhaps you should sew a little bit more nylon onto it to make it long enough? Definitely just leave it, otherwise, and don't try to latch it. You don't want to make her clench her teeth or mess with her breathing.
Honestly though, your bit looks like it might be ok. If its for minis it is most likely a 3 1/2 ich. I would suggest to put some bit keepers on it, but I don't know what you'd attatch them to on a nylon bridle like that... so just be careful to make sure she doesn't get one part of it up her nostril or catches on something. You'd be suprised at how easily that happens!
If/when you ever buy another harness, you might be able to contact the store owners (if you order online, anyways. Thats what I have to do because our tack stores don't carry mini tack AT ALL) about getting a size B bridle and a size A harness. I had to do that for my big-headed gelding! xD
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