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Discussion Starter #1
I know its often talked about, the bit being only as harsh as the person holding the reins. I have been in a shopping mood since I read the post about split v. one piece reins. I was looking for some rawhide button and loop clips for attaching the reins to the bit. Since those are a gaucho item I came across an article on old vaquero competitions I thought I would share.
There used to be competitions where the cowboys were challenged to do a series of turns and spins with only a few strands of horse hair attaching the bit to the reins. The one who could go the longest without breaking the hair won.
I think I'll try this, how about you?
 

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Huh, that is very interesting. I don't think my horses are quite that soft but that would be something to work toward. If you are interested in learning about the old vaquero way of riding (using mostly leg and seat/working toward the use of the spade bit and super soft horses), here is a site that I found and thought was a very interesting read.

The Spade Bit
 

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Interesting idea.

I'd love to try it - But would be limited in what I can do, because I don't ride in a curb. I need a good solid contact to keep my boy together as he is lazy - I can do everything on a light rein but it's with his head poked out and without much motivation!
 

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I was taught that you use the reins like they were attached to an egg. Pull too hard and the egg breaks. I know that when I started riding for real, I broke dozens of eggs until I learned to use my other aids. I still break an egg of two on a ride and the cholesterol is going to kill me.
 

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Not as soft as I'd like. I would say most of it is my skill level at using my other aids. Soda needs finishing too which doesn't help, but I would say a good majority of our problem is me. It's definitely something I'm working on.
 

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Yes.

I teach seat and legs - THEN go to your hands to cue the horse.

My lesson horses will tell me if the student is balancing off their face. They stop.
 

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^^That is what I keep reminding myself everytime I ride. I think I'm getting better and I've noticed that as I focus more on HOW I'm asking for something, I get noticeably better results from him.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yes.

I teach seat and legs - THEN go to your hands to cue the horse.

My lesson horses will tell me if the student is balancing off their face. They stop.
Me too, I have to remind myself...hands last. Its harder than is sounds :lol: Its not my horse, its me!
thanks for the link Jen
 

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It will also vary from horse to horse also as to how soft you are. My stallion is you get to heavy with him he still take his head and toss if forward. He hates heavy hands. You can not eve use a chain curb strap on him.

My mares the more you use your hands the more she will bridle up. A friends sister was in town and wanted to ride and normally I like people ride Te and not the mares but Te was sore so he got the day off. This person was not harsh but she use more rein then the mare is use to. By the time I got the first work out of my mouth she had the mare so bridled up and pushing with her legs that the mare was rocking back and forth. Almost ready to buck b/c she was so collected that she could not move. Dose not take much pressure to get this mare to give to the bit and will come to you. Now TE if you get too heavy he just take it away.
 

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Riding Saddlebreds (very sensitive) for over ten years taught me to have extremely soft hands. My current (reining) trainer actually tells me my hands are TOO soft and to "stop riding with my fingertips"... but only when I'm riding his lazy Appy who needs you to use your hands.

My MFT mare a) neck reins and b) knows voice commands really well, so I rarely even make contact with the bit. I never do when I'm trail riding. The only time I really make contact is when I'm teaching her to collect herself, which I only recently started doing. I ride her tackless and she listens perfectly, so I don't have a need to use the bit when she has a bridle on.

I try to keep my hands as soft as possible, but I also try to use my hands as little as possible. That's as soft as it gets.
 

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Jester could probably do it, but the others....eh. No. The others are all either half-broke, not broke, or way too stubborn to do it. Lolz ^^
 

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I seldom actually use the bit. I use my body, my legs and the weight of the rein to clue the horse. I also use a number of verbal commands.
I could easily tie the rein to the bit with very lite string and get away with it.
Yes I have soft hands
 

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I have softer hands than I used to. My current gelding responds better when using light aids and commands then when you try to jerk him around....you can actually feel him getting angry at you as he responds, which is something I'm not used to, compared to the other "been there done that" school horses I've ridden who need plowing into to move faster or turn or do anything other than go straight. When he was in his hackamore (haven't tried it in the bit yet) I could use a heavy seat and squeeze my reins together, and get a stop out of him.
 

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I try not to use my hands a lot, and I try really hard to have a soft hands, but sometimes it's hard. Roger for instance, is always taking off and it can be dangerous to whoever we're riding with. So if he's going to get fast, I start asking him to halt or walk just incase. . which he most of the time won't do with just little half-halts and then even with a soft pull. . sometimes I'm forced to pull pretty hard to get him to stop :( im working on getting him softer though, On a good day I ride him with my reins considerbly short but barely use my hands. If I give him a long rein he pulls his head right to the ground and goes as fast as he wants. :p
and then with Buster, who I've recently been riding, I barely ever use my hands because he is the best behaved horse in the world..:)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I think the trick is learning when to release the reins. When I do use them I try to release them as soon as I get the response I'm wanting and keep little to no tension on them. When I got Vida she had no "Whoa" and knew no voice commands. Although she has gotten pretty good with just voice, sometimes ya gotta tap the brakes :lol: If we were just doing arena work, I don't think I would need reins/bit at all.
 

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I work my horses to become responsive to leg and seat After they are solid on the bridle. That means I start to pick up the rein and they are softening up asking 'what do you need.'

I can and have done an entire reining pattern bridleless, however, the more time you spend not using the bridle the heavier the horse becomes to it. I teach that seat and leg are secondary as they can only be truelly reinforced with rein aids. Yet the goal is to never have to pick up on the rein and touch the bit.
 

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I have actually done this on my 3 yr old and my 8 yr old. One of the trainers I work with... got me curious on the idea... so I had to try. And both did just fine. But they work of body and leg. So I rarely have to use my bit anyways.
 
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