Sorry, Joe, but "whoa" does not come from the bit. It comes from the training you put into the horse.
A horse can blow through a bit just like they can blow through a bitless.
I don't what know it is about people thinking that horses are born knowing what a bit is. They are trained to respond to it, just as you can train a horse to respond bitless.
As long as you take the time to do the proper training at home, you will be just fine going bitless on the trail. Posted via Mobile Device
I haven't had any problems using bitless. While the only real runaway I've ever had was with a spooked gelding wearing a curb bit and I might as well have had nothing at all.
If the horse is in a state that it's not going to obey you a bit isn't going to change it's mind.
From my experience and what was drilled into me from the old timers who gave me mentoring in my youth (old timers = horsemen born 1890-1920's),
1. You get a saddle with a tree that fits your horse properly
2. You get a saddle that is comfortable for you.
I discovered when I was doing it (a very long time ago) that many things my old timers told me often very true. As close as you feel to your horse now....you could end up feeling even closer after you've started riding and sleeping with your horse for days. Just you and your mount. Could be a variety of reasons for that, like that fact that the horse doesn't go along complaining about anything they are unhappy or annoyed about :))
Agreed, but I'll add that trail riding is more fun and more safe in pairs or groups.
Originally Posted by its lbs not miles
Biggest thing my old timers didn't agree on was shoed vs unshod. I went with the unshod, but it took time to get her feet tough/hard enough. My grandfather (RIP) was a great help (and influence) with that and my horses never saw a shoe. Up to 40 miles a day over whatever terrain we encountered and never a hoof problem or sore feet. But I digress :))
Shod. Be CAREFUL crossing roads bc your horse might slip, esp. If it's been raining.
Originally Posted by its lbs not miles
Free piece of advice. DON'T go with the historical McClellan saddle :)) If you ride far enough your body probably will not appreciate it :))
I will agree and disagree. DH and I are veterans of CW Reenacting, and we have a LOT of experience with McClellans. Here's the deal: some are horrible, some are okay to ride, and some are downright the most comfy saddle you can ride. They were manufactured en mass, primarily for the Civil War and named after Genl. McClellan who visited Prussia, came back with their saddle, which the Army combined with the Hope and Grimsley. SOME of our McClellans are THAT OLD, just covered and a change of quarterstraps.We have bought and sold many of them--currently we own 10, and 7 of them are ride-ready. (We DO cannibilize the parts. =b)
We have sold the uncomfortable ones, including ones that were uncomfortable for the horse, and kept the comfortable ones. Recently some tack shops have manufactured McClellans. Wouldn't ever buy one of them. You probably don't have the time to do what WE did, so I wouldn't buy one, if I were you, unless you tried one out and loved it. (The Cavalry put a size-stamped triangular size-plate on the inside of the pommel, sizes 11, 11 1/2 & 12, so you can tell immediately what is a repro.)
But, you should know that they can be ideal for trail riding. Here is why:
1) Breastplate (buckeled, NO snaps), crupper and surgingle, which keep you saddle from slipping
2) 4 extra rings--for tying on the pommel, tying on the cantle, and snapping on an extra canten, or whatever
3) VERY lightweight
4) Hole in the middle of the saddle, so that it rests on the horse's back like and English Saddle does, without putting your weight on their spine
5) 6 brass lined holes which use a coatstrap (~20 inches long), used for tying onto the pommel or cantle
Here is my mare a few summers back, wearing my 11 1/2" McClellan with some of the things we take trail-riding. DH and I like to pack a lunch and take extra water. We use all of the CW equipment on our trail rides Except for the sabre and the carbine. We often hook on a feed bucket for the horses, too, and a snack for them, if the ride is going to be really long. I think you'll agree that MY saddle is comfortable for my mare.
The McClellan I used was US Cav (family hand-me-down), from the early 1900s. I could ride it easily, but even as a young man after doing over 60 miles in two days I could feel it on my butt. Granted, it just had a bit leather covering the tree, so it wasn't intended for my butt to feel comfy. Was intended to feel better on the horses back. I know the army supposedly made some saddles with nicer seats in the later years (WWI and later I believe). Mine had no skirt which some of my old manuals show.
Wasn't the best fit for her though. It wasn't bad, but my Western fit her beautifully, so it got used a almost all the time. Although the tree size looked the same on both. I liked the McClellan because it was light and no horn was a great feature. If the tree had been just a touch less wide it would have been great for her. Of course I can't really claim that I was "trail riding". There was no trail :)) just me going from point A (home) to point B (where ever I felt like going) and back again. Usually 2 days of travel on a weekend. If I'd ridden it more often on my longer excursions it would have been with a pad of some sort on the seat :))
Of course today they make endurance saddles based on the McClellan. With a little more padding for the rider :))
...(T)oday they make endurance saddles based on the McClellan. With a little more padding for the rider :))
Like I said, and in agreement with you, you have to find out if ANY saddle is comfortable for your horse. You should know that we do NOT and never have just used the CW wool blanket as the only pad. During the war and afterwards the soldier was issued 2 rectangular (~3' x 6') blanket, one which was folded long and then in 1/3rds to serve as padding for the saddle. The soldier attached the other, dry blanket to his saddle, slept at night on the sweaty and wet one from the horse and give his horse the dry(est) one the next day, in rotation. WE have always used a 1" thick Western pad and covered it with the Cav. Blanket bc I was always concerned about ANY rubbing. OUR saddles are at least as old as 1904's and some are original--they made THAT MANY!! IF there were vintage and had been recovered, the leather was spent. We'd strip the leather and refurbish the rawhide. It's the RAWHIDE and it's condition with any dry and sharp edges that worried me most and made me protect my horses.
The DESIGN however is what's great about them. During the 1920's and 1930's the US Cavalry schooled their horses including training them to drive artillery, and they did a lot of horse shows. They performed Roman Riding and everybody jumped obstacles. You CAN jump in a McClellan. I once warmed up my TB by jumping 4 1/2' breastworks in my McClellan, and the pommel does not get in your way, like a Western horn does.
You can also easily tie anything on the pommel bc there is an additional hole there. When my family trail rides with McClellans--NOT the only saddle we use trail-riding, btw--we ride with a halter and lead and the (rope) lead is run through the pommel and tied off there.
DH and I attach our CW saddlebags (which strap through a hole on each skirt and a brass piece on the each side of the cantle) with 2 purposes--one set contains first aid stuff, one side of us and the other side for the horse, and the other bag contains an extra girth, extra reins, extra latigo (saddle) strap on one side, and on the other side a soft brush, metal curry, and a brass folding hoof pick (tied with leather inside of the saddle bag). ORIGINALLY, the soldier carried grooming equipment on one side and an extra set of horseshoes on the other side.
I do not recommend them or discourage anybody, it's just that 1/4 of a century of living history has caused me to appreciate them. =D
I ride in my treeless barefoot saddle. This is one of the most popular,trusted saddle makers if you were to go treeless.If you do so do not buy those cheapy Hilason.They are knock offs and usually do not hold up.Some people like them but most of the time I have read bad reviews.
Treeless isn't for everyone nor is it for the horse. You can try demo saddles before hand to see if it works out for you and your pony. I did my research and decided to buy one used(they are pretty expensive brand new). Some people say treeless saddles still have a tree..this is so not true. You have to buy a special pad th at creates the tree with shims..This helps reduce pressure on the spine. They come in all different styles from english,western,and hybrids. I have a hybrid.It's an endurance saddle with western fenders.You can change them to english leathers and irons if you choose to do so.
I recommend a treeless for long rides.
My horse is prone to a sore back. Hardly any saddles fit her correctly...especially western saddles. I bought my saddle and rode with just a regular pad.Do not do this as it will cause back pain with long rides. I had my special HAF pad on the way and once I got it and rode in my saddle she was able to walk out more and was more willing(I have a very stubborn,lazy horse). She seemed happy. It was like sitting on a couch! Here are some pictures.