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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am fairly new to the horse world (started riding 5-6 months ago) and I am interested in minimalistic riding. Currently I use a bosal and I try to ride bareback (with a pad or without) regularely. I am looking into treeless saddles and I was wondering if anyone here has ever ridden with a war bridle?? Is it comfortable for the horse? Can you give cues properly? Would you recommend this type of tack? Is it bad for the horse's mouth? (The horse I ride is neck reined so I wouldn't be pulling alot in it's mouth)



 

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That is different to the war bridle I was given when in the US, that one worked under the top lip with a cord going back to the saddle over the top of the head to stop the horse getting its head down to buck.

With the one pictured, neck reining or not, you are going to be in contact with the mouth and there is no way to use an individual side.
 

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If your horse neck reins well, use a halter and reins, that's about as minimalistic as you can get. You've only been riding for 6 months, and the bridle in your picture should not be used by a novice rider. My first thought on seeing it was that the amount of leverage applied could wind up breaking the horses jaw. There's also no way to lead the horse from the ground, or tie the horse if needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If your horse neck reins well, use a halter and reins, that's about as minimalistic as you can get. You've only been riding for 6 months, and the bridle in your picture should not be used by a novice rider. My first thought on seeing it was that the amount of leverage applied could wind up breaking the horses jaw. There's also no way to lead the horse from the ground, or tie the horse if needed.



I wasn't planning on using it, the horse I ride dislikes things in his mouth so we use a bosal. :) I would always adjust the tack for the horse... If I would ever have my own horse I would love to go as minimalistic as possible. I like a bosal or something without a lot of straps and stuff going on. Furthermore I like the aesthetics of western and some traditional styles to tack up horses. But again... I think the wellbeing of the horse is the most important. :) I was just really curious about experiences with this kind of tack! :) I also think I will buy a mule if it ever gets to the point that I will be able to own my own animal (that would be in a couple of years or more. First I want to be a better rider and I need to learn much more about horses and I also need more money, lol) :cowboy:
 

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The two pictures of Native Costume are definitely gorgeous but not minimalistic.

I don't like the war bridle in the first picture and wonder how it stays in the horse's mouth without having it so tight it would be uncomfortable for the horse. Also I don't like the martingale type rein in the picture, it could cause some nasty rope burns in the horse's mouth if he threw his head up. If I was going that route I would use a string around the neck instead.
Your idea of riding with a bosal is much better.
 

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Like a Crow buddy told a tourist when she asked why the native kids weren't riding with "war bridles"...

"Ahhhh... War bridles. We used those until we won a couple battles. Then we stole all the bits. Much better."

Like @ApuestoT pointed out. They can be quite severe. And horses are so often stoic and tolerant of what we do to them.

Stick with a halter and lead for minimalism (flat nylon) or a well made and well fitted bosal.
 

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Don’t get caught up in the glamours look of these costumes - that is what they are costumes for glamor shots. They are things movies are made of and not realistic for riding unless one is in a costume class or a parade:)

The Nez Pierce Native American tribe is still well known for being the best horsemen on the planet, possibly second only to the Mongols.

Their every day riding tack was sparse to say the least and as efficient as they knew how to make with what little they had. That does not mean it was good for the horse. It only means that’s all they had ; they were (and still are) excellent riders.

This link has some old black and white pictures that look to date back to the turn of the century (1800’s into the 1900’s).

The Nez Perce Horse ? Dreamer Horse Farm

There is one foto of a Native American on a horse with a bit and reins similar to what you posted. The horse looks thrilled (not) to have it in his mouth and wrapped under his chin.

It is evident by the black and white photos the Nez Pierce opted for more industrialized tack, once the opportunity was there.

I rode bareback the bulk of my entire life - sliding down river banks, swimming the rivers, digging up the other side. Digging up power lines so steep I had my arms wrapped around my horse’s neck, hoping I didn’t slide off his back before we got to the top.

I did all that with a low port curb bit and leg/seat cues that I did all the training. I was raised on horses, that type of riding is not for the novice.

Born in the late 1940’s in the United States, I had plenty of opportunity to see and touch that bit/rein device. There is no way in Hades that I would have ever put one of those “war” pieces in any of my horses mouths. Even had I thought about it, my grandfather would have grounded me off his horses until I was an adult, lol

Keep taking lessons and admiring those glamorous fotos. While there’s a lot of good to be said for Some of the “old ways”, that bit & rein set up is not one of them:)

Also, in your foto in post #5, the horse is wearing a snaffle bit::
 

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I know you said you don't intend to ride in a war bridle... and that's a good thing. A horse needs to be taught to pack it with it's mouth. Also needs to have impeccable training and you need to be light in the hands, because if you panic snatch those reins back, and/or if the horse pulls into it, it's tongue can get cut up. There's multiple articles warning people against using them and causing injury to their horses. Apparently the ALL BITS ARE CRUEL brigade discovered these and thought they were the next best thing since sliced bread, being super kind, only to cause damage to their horse's mouth.

It's my understanding a war bridle was reserved for just that... war and battle only, only for just a skosh more control in the chaos of a fight. Normally, IIRC, they didn't ride with anything at all on their horses' faces until someone got the big idea to start stealing white man's tack and horses. I cannot remember the source, but I found it when I was researching on the war bridles (Because they're trendy here in Oklahoma), but it talked about how Native Americans, by and large, found the white man's tack to be a huge upgrade and to be highly desirable.

Speaking of Native Americans and their horses... The Choctaws would give a child a foal, a pig, and a goat. I want to say at their 1 or 2 or 3 year old birthday... the child would grow up on that foal... they would literally strap them in until they learned to ride without the training wheels... but I figure if a kid is on a horse all day every day, in play and for necessary travel, they'd pick up horsemanship in a hurry... anyway. That way the child would grow up learning to manage his or her own animals and by the time the child was mature and ready to start their own family, they would have their own herds to start the family with. There's a few of their horses left... there's what they call Choctaw Horses (or Ponies) and they're pretty rare... these are the decedents of the actual ponies that traveled the Trail of Tears, which ended in Oklahoma. They're basically Mustangs of Spanish descent, usually pinto in color, and like Arabians, the Choctaws bred for the most people friendly, helpful, trusted personalities. I understand they're usually sweet, gentle, and willing, make wonderful trusted mounts and lifelong companions.... because that's what they were bred by the Choctaws to be.

A similar breed, the Chickasaw horse, was used in the early development of the Quarter Horse.

And yeah the pictures are stunning - but that would have been for ceremonial use only. Deerskin breech cloths and bare chests for the guys was the norm. I'm thinking the moccasins weren't even for daily use except in cold weather and for special occasions.
 

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Less doesn't always equal more. There's nothing wrong with preferring to use bitless but I'd keep in mind that all horses are different and some just won't go as well bitless as they do with one. Minimalist to me is not having any fancy decoration on the tack, so to me a plain bridle and simple bit without any engraving/tooling would be "minimalist" to me.


That being said they have a lot of side-pulls and bitless bridles on the market. Some of them are basically just rope halters with rings on the sides for reins and would probably fit that very simple look you seem to be going for (and they're not that much money). But again I'd just go with whatever tack is best for the horse I'm using and what I want to use them for.
 

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I have one and use it on my little bay horse, he likes it.
If I'm just loping circles or not doing awhole lot, it's perfect for him.
It's not clamped down on the jaw or tongue to keep it in the mouth. He holds it on his own for the most part, its loose enough can move his tongue and the knot rests on the back of the chin. The mouth is wrapped in soft leather.

I used to ranch rodeo with some girls from the Dakota states, they rodeoed in them. Which involved roping, getting off their horses to set ropes or tie up steers, etc.

Yes, your horse needs to be broke. They used the war bridle much like us from the west coast use a spade bit as a sign of a good, broke horse.
 

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'War Bridles' in their current form work great on a finished, broke horse that has a good neck rein already on him. He needs to know how to 'carry' a bit. They can exert a lot of force, though, so they aren't exactly 'minimalist' in the gentle category if that's what you're going for, (although neither is a bosal to be honest). The 'war bridle' is a current fad that really doesn't add much to the horse world, IMO. A good, balanced bit is more comfortable for the horse and generally will get you better results. A war bridle has no release if snug enough to not work out of the mouth.

If you really want minimalist tack, go for a sidepull or ride in a halter.
 

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A war bridle is necessary for about .03% of the horse population. For the rest, people just use them because they like them. As stated above, a war bridle is only to be used on a finished horse whose mouth you don't have to touch, and is trained to work off of seat and legs with reins and signalling used only as a backup - and for a horse of that caliber, I'd prefer a well fitted spade over a war bridle. I see pictures all the time of folks who have no business riding in a war bridle and end up cutting their horse's tongue or bars. The size and shape of the spade tends to scare off the casual amateurs, and while a spade can definitely do some damage in the wrong hands, you see a higher percentage of folks using them who actually know what the heck they're doing and have the training put in on the horse to do so. The vast majority of people using war bridles have no business doing so and will end up in a wreck sooner or later. Hopefully they don't ruin their horse when that happens.

-- Kai
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
ok, thanks for all the comments! as usual I learned alot. Because I noticed some people got me wrong:



-Before I posted this question I thought: well, a war bridle looks really interesting to use on a horse that is neck reined and doesn't need to be pulled in the mouth or contacted because the horse would be thrusthworthy and well attuned to it's rider. I immediately saw this piece of equipment is not intended for rough riding. Secondly I am too inexperienced to use this on a horse and I would never decide to do so unless I knew for sure the horse I had was trained to neck rein and was very cooperative.
The horse I ride now is a good horse, but he is opinionated about whether he wants to work ( Which I do not tolerate because I don't want a horse to screw around like that.) He is also opinionated about the exercises we do ( I understand this and I make him listen but after he does I also switch and do something different because I can imagine he gets bored, hell I get bored too.) He also expresses his opinion about the tack we use (I also understand and tolerate this because there are plenty of options to choose from and it shouldn't be about what you think is pretty, it should be about what works best for the both of you.) Because this horse is a good horse, but also an opinionated one it is not acceptable nor a good idea to use a war bridle on him just because I would like to try. The horse needs to respect me, but I also need to respect his needs. He is still a living creature.



-After I read all the comments: I think using a war bridle is cool but I will probably never be able to use one unless I am really experienced and I can buy mt own mule or horse that has a good character. I would only use it when I knew it would work for us and when I fully trusted the horse. I also don't ride bareback on a horse I don't trust because I know the horse I ride most on and I know he will not intentionally hurt me. :) My instincts and trust are very important.



Of course I also understand that the pictures I posted are for show purposes and not for real riding. About the bits that are used: I don't know much about bits... I accept what my trainers tell me about the horse and what they tack it up with. I only know that those bits with leverage (if you pull 1 the horse feels 3) seem to be used for horses that are crazy in the coconut... I don't like that at all. I don't want to be pulling. In my opinion a good horse is a horse that goes on voice commands, leg cues and seat cues. I also don't want to be "bumping" in the rythm on purpose, okay... I know lots of ppl do this, but I like to sit relaxed and not bother the horse too much unless I want to ask for something.



I have been riding for approx 6 months now and I know if I ever buy my own horse it will need to be a laid back chill horse that loves people and that I can bond with really well. I need to trust my horse and it needs to be a horse that is willing to work and is very communicative. :) I am already curious with what I will end up with in say 5 years. I was thinking a mule since I love trailrides and western riding and maybe some jumping)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I have one and use it on my little bay horse, he likes it.
If I'm just loping circles or not doing awhole lot, it's perfect for him.
It's not clamped down on the jaw or tongue to keep it in the mouth. He holds it on his own for the most part, its loose enough can move his tongue and the knot rests on the back of the chin. The mouth is wrapped in soft leather.

I used to ranch rodeo with some girls from the Dakota states, they rodeoed in them. Which involved roping, getting off their horses to set ropes or tie up steers, etc.

Yes, your horse needs to be broke. They used the war bridle much like us from the west coast use a spade bit as a sign of a good, broke horse.



looks great on him! And really cool too! Bonus points for that. He doesn't look stressed and he seems to not mind. That looks like a gentle horse to me! (At least on the pictures) :p
 

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I don't know anything about war bridles. Is it fashioned so that a pull on the rein causes the rope through the mouth to consitrict? Someone used the word 'leverage' in their description, I'm on the surface, I'm not seeing where the leverage comes in. Is the loop not a fixed loop, unable to actually tighten?
If so, would this not be of the same level of risk to hurting the horse's mouth as ANY bit that has a chin or curb strap disallowing it to slide through the hroses mouth?


I'm not seeing how this is all that much more dangerous than a typical bit set up.


As to the costumes, they are gorgeous, and as you can imagine, are a tremedous amount of work to create. I believe the first one posted is Nimi'ipoo ( their own name for what we call Nez Perce. Not sure I spelled that right, tho), and the other one looks more like Lakota or Cheyenne, or more of a Plains tribal group look. I am not an expert, and the American Native peoples influenced each other a lot in style and tradition, particularly after the incursion of European peoples kept pushing one group further Westward into the territories of their neighbors.




that article on the Nez Perce horse is very interesting. The addition of the heavy QH blood has moved the Appaloosa far from its roots. Changed it from a real body type, to just color. It's very interesting how they are trying to recapture a body type by crossing with Ahkel Tekes. I had the pleasure of meeting some purebred Ahkel Tekes last summer. I was really impressed with their intelligence and , well, extreme 'presence'.
 
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