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Discussion Starter · #63 ·
They look amazing!
Thank you! It has been a huge learning process for me. I worked really hard on finding a diet that would help Duke gain and help Loretta adjust to winter temperatures in Maine. She doesn't have the full wooly bully coat like Duke, and since this is her first winter in New England, I make sure I blanket her when it is going to be too cold, or I put a waterproof sheet on her when they are forecasting freezing rain or snow. I try to leave as much up to nature as I can.

Duke only gets blanketed when temps fall below zero with the windchill, OR when there is an extended period of snow forcasted. Loretta gets blanketed with windchills below 15. She only has partially wooly bully legs.

Duke has gained a ton of weight since switching his grain. We are using a combo of Nutrena ProForce Fiber and ProForce Senior and we mix that with hay extender. They get equal parts of all 3. Oh, and of course, the BO does give them a scoop of warm beat pulp each morning. And by scoop, its like a serving spoon, not a real "scoop". Each morning she comes out with hot food for the horses, some of the others get fully soaked foods, or mash, and she likes to "treat" them all. Plus the baby cows get hot meals! Lucky cows!

We estimate (using his gut measurements) duke has gained about 300-350lbs. Since Loretta moved in, we noticed a great improvement in his top line, and musculature. The other day I actually caught the wild, elusive Duke in a full out gallop. The ground shook, his mane and tail were flowing majestically, and I couldn't get to my phone fast enough! It was such an amazing sight... My Duke, my leaning, lame, arthritic horse was running with Loretta! Loretta has been amazing for him. The two of them are forming a bond (a sometimes strange one) but a bond none the less.
 

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Nothing wrong with a bit and bit does not mean "work" just because she used a bit in the past. The bit just like any set up be it hackamore, bitless bridle or even halter and lead tied off is only as effective as the user. It is only as gentle or severe as the hands the reins are in. Work is how you define it. The horse can't read the dictionary. If she loves trail rides then trail riding isn't work unless you make it work. Driving isn't work unless you make it work. Same with farming. The biggest complaint I have seen here and heard about bitless bridles (some are worse than others) is that there is no relief from pressure to the face once you engage them. There are several threads here that cover bits, bitless bridles and hackmores or bosals. You might want to read through them before you make your final choice.

I so enjoy reading about these two. You've come a long way. Looking forward to more Duke and Loretta adventures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #71 ·
@QtrBel I have read some good things about well-kept leather bitless as opposed to semi or synthetic. Most of the complaints I have read seem to be about the lack of "release" due to the stickiness of the material. Since Loretta is a big, strong gal, I plan on using leather. For some reason, when I think synthetic leather, my mind immediately returns to bad 90s clothing... I see Loretta rocking a blue pleather bridle, and it pains me... hahah
I think the bit vs bitless is for my own selfishness. I feel bad making them use a bit because I would assume that its uncomfortable. However horses have been using them for quite some time, and I haven't read anything about a horse strike due to uncomfortable bits...

I will try to post another fun update this weekend. We have "visitors" coming to the barn. Little children love interacting with Loretta and Duke. Our BOs grandson calls them "the behemoths". Totally adorable!
 

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see if you can try some bit or bitless options. i have had horses who HATE some bits and like bitless. i have had some who HATE bitless and fight with it but go happily and quiet in bits.

Persenaly i love two horse tack. you can get custom sizing and that is important with most drafts. you can get leather or beta-biothane (feels like leather but stronger and easily cleaned. you can get it in any color or style. they sell everything but saddles. you can een buy harnesses in custom sizing and colors. biothane is stronger then leather and easier to clean too for harnessing. ill post a couple for you to think on.


https://www.twohorsetack.com/p-30-2-in-1-bitless-bridle-made-from-leather.aspx


https://www.twohorsetack.com/p-29-w...wband-made-from-beta-biothane-with-bling.aspx


https://www.twohorsetack.com/p-109-sidepull-bitless-bridle-made-from-leather.aspx

I like this one for trail riding as its reflective. and you can get it in any color. this is also a halter bridle in case you need to hop off and walk or tie your horse

https://www.twohorsetack.com/p-201-...le-made-with-reflective-day-glo-biothane.aspx

Personal fave of mine

https://www.twohorsetack.com/p-119-...a-biothane-with-rhinestones-jewels-bling.aspx


and a biothane harness. free shipping so thats nice.

https://www.twohorsetack.com/p-20-biothane-harness.aspx
 

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I second Two Horse Tack. Just bought the flat nosed sidepull for Dreams and the halter bridle for Thunder. Very nice quality stuff. I'm debating whether to get the harness for Thunder .... as a general purpose training/first time harness I really don't think you can beat it.

A word of caution if you're going to ride your horses bitless ... you have no stopping power, especially on a big strong horse like a draft. None. You can haul on those reins all you want, it won't do a darn thing if your horse doesn't feel like stopping. I'm not saying this is the most important thing when riding ... I ride Dreams bitless after all .... but you'd better compensate for that lack of control by making sure your horse has a darn good whoa. I actually didn't get a sidepull for Dreams until I could stop him running loose in the arena just by saying "whoa" and have him immediately hit the brakes, no matter how fast he was going.

Also, I'm not sure how popular bitless driving bridles are in America (I've seen a few but they were all European or British models) but the crossunder style is NOT safe for driving. Without a proper throatlatch your horse can potentially rub the bridle off, and then you have a horse hitched to a wheeled vehicle with nothing on his head to control him. You are screwed. Personally I wouldn't feel comfortable without at least a snaffle in the horse's mouth, but I'm a newbie to driving so that may be why. At the very least, if you're going to drive your horses bitless, make sure the bridle has a properly fitted throatlatch so that it cannot be rubbed off and cause an accident. Your horses are probably very well broke to drive, but anything can spook a horse and I'd hate to hear about you getting in an accident because your bridle fell off. : )

-- Kai
 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
@KigerQueen
I agree with your favorite as well. That one is a beauty. We are still trying to figure out what color Loretta looks best in. She has a really beautiful purple halter which looks great against her black coat. I really love the idea of getting her a black bridle with purple or aqua.
@Kaifyre
Luckily, Loretta spent her former days as a carriage horse so she is incredibly responsive to verbal commands. We have worked with her on woah, stand, back, step up, and my personal favorite, asphecht (pronounced asch-pet). We grew up knowing that meant get the heck outta the way, and we have now taught Loretta the favorite family word. I mostly use it to make space when I am trying to feed them.

Luckily it is still quite cold in Maine, so we are nowhere near ready to ride, so therefore, I am nowhere near ready for lessons. Hopefully, we will thaw by July :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #75 ·
So let me just say... I am sooooo over this winter.

We have been stuck in a terrible loop of ice/snow/heat wave/rain and repeat so we have a pretty solid layer of ice across everything. I have been spending more money on ice melt than horse feed. So let me repeat... so over winter.

Aside from that, let's see. We haven't been able to do much. The pasture is a hot mess, lots of snow/ice/melt which is making for muddy/snowy/mucky/icy conditions. We keep on top of spreading the used shavings (without poo) over the ice to help with traction. I have been making sure I get down there at least every other day to check their feet to make sure they aren't getting bruising from the ice and frozen poo. They are happy out in the pasture with the round bale, extra hay in the dry stalls, and now, TOYS.

Ohh so a funny story, which some of you may have already read. We get a text from the BO who asked if I had seen the hole in the barn. Now I was literally there hours before she sent it, and didn't see any hole (not that I was looking) The weather was crappy (as usual) so I waited a bit. I get there, and there is literally a hole the size of a human *** (a large one) midway up the exterior wall of the barn. Way too big to be a hoof, and there are no rams, sheeps or goats on the property. (there are 2 female baby cows and they are too sweet to have headbutted the barn). I walk around, check out the hole, and I stand there deep in thought. It is just too big, and too high for Loretta and especially Duke to have made by bucking or kicking. So, back to thinking. I am checking over hooves and legs to make sure I didn't miss any injuries or splinters. And there it is folks... a huge splinter of wood had pierced Duke's coat! (brand new coat I just got him a month ago, I may add...) Duke, being the spiteful turn he can be, was standing right outside of Loretta's stall door taking care of business when he must have slipped on ice, went butt-first through the barn wall, and then moved on like it was no big deal. We know he didn't fall to the ground because he would have squished his poo, I know it was his poo because Loretta will only poo at the far end of the pasture because she doesn't like to step on poo. She is very dainty. She won't even poo in her stall (which makes cleaning it a breeze!)

So.... I told my BO what I think happened and neither of us could help but laugh. Duke tries so hard to impress Loretta on day 1 that he falls on his ***... now, he is trying to be spiteful (not really) but he could poo anywhere, but insists on pooping right there, in front of where she needs to walk, and bam, he slips on ice.

So after solving the mystery, I took his coat off the repair it and put down more shavings. Yep, Duke put his *** through the barn. Must be a record....


What else... hmmm... oh! The toys! I bought treat dispensers from the store. Well, origianlly I got 1, but after you see Duke's reaction, you will see why I had to go get a 2nd, 3rd and 4th! Now, we have them spread around so they can get exercise, and keep mentally stimulated. It also helps to keep Duke from standing by the round bale and eating for 24 hours straight... lol
 

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Love it! My would be drop kicking them though if they didn't dispense fast enough. The biggest laugh we've had is when a mylar balloon had just enough gas left that it floated nose level across the pasture. Several were chasing, head butting or trying to kick it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #77 ·
Love it! My would be drop kicking them though if they didn't dispense fast enough. The biggest laugh we've had is when a mylar balloon had just enough gas left that it floated nose level across the pasture. Several were chasing, head butting or trying to kick it.
So far there has been no drop kicking. We do have to put them in the less icy area of the pasture. I watched Duke head but the ball twice today into the woods. It just took off on the ice and he stood there looking at it, then at me, then back at the ball. Eventually I stopped laughing and went over and go it for him.

Sent from my SM-N950U using Tapatalk
 

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Beautiful horses! Well done you!
As for the bitless thing - I have a x breed mare who goes beautifully bitless, no problems at all. My clydesdale mare on the other hand hasn't got a bloody clue. I have tried her several times in a halter, hackamore, side pull, cross under etc, and she gets soooo confused! I ride her in a french link instead and she is lovely and responsive so I guess just go with what they know.
If your girl clicks with a bitless, go for it. However there is nothing wrong with a nice snaffle or straight bar and if she is used to having a bit it may be that she goes better with on rather than with out.
Good luck and keep us updated!
 

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Looking for updates! Can't believe it has been 6 weeks with no pics of this duo!
 
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