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Discipline: LD/Endurance, CMO, Trail Rider, Cartoonist, Writer, Co-Director/ Green Bean Endurance

October 11, 2011

I'm going to have to mix it up.

I've concentrated heavily on ground work.  Mostly exercises that "should" instill respect and leadership.  While all this has been good, and we've done a lot of it...Journey I believe is still holding her union card.  So I will have to think some on that.  She willingly submits in the round pen, and she willingly submits in the riding arena area (which is actually just a grassy fenced enclosure), but out there, ummm...not so much. (Still safer than Phebe's best day though) We have focused so hard on working on those things that she has been working primarily at home which has reinforced her buddy sour issues again.  I took her out tonight and she went, but her head was googling back at the others, and her brain was thinking on them, rather than me.  The farther we got away from home the better she was.  I like it that Journey is a horse that wants to pick up the trot, but even so I want her to walk at this stage, particularly on the big downhills.  She'd just charge on down willy-nilly and joints be damned! The trouble doesn't start until you point back towards home, then jigging commences.  So we one rein stopped every time she broke gait which was a lot!  We seem to have a new training opportunity to work on as my finances have took about all the horsey clinics I can handle for awhile.  I do hope to get one more time with Michaella Walker, but not sure I can again until spring.  It would be nice if I could just take Journey to someone to work diligently on vertical flexion and a natural head set for about 30 days.  I find I can get this at a standstill, but in motion I cannot.  At least with the s-hack.  The bit was attempted last night, just for fitting, and she was like I remembered: chewing, chomping, clanking, tongue thrusting.  She does seem more responsive to flexion, but as "my" granny used to say "I think I'm gonna need a nervous pill!"  I have always liked riding bitless as it is just easy for me to bridle up, easy to drop the hack, and easy for the horse to eat and drink.  But currently it isn't exactly working towards my goal of a balanced horse either.   Michaella has her own version of a bitless bridle that is different. (photo below).  She used it on Journey at our last lesson and she was able to get her setting her head nicely, and backing up pretty good.  She also used spurs which I would probably DIE IF I USED at this point which got her moving into the bridle at the walk.  It totally transformed how the horse looks.  I was dumbfounded it was so pretty and soft.  The only thing I do not like about it is the set-up is leather and I don't think I can get it made in beta.  That would be my primary hesitation to buy it.  In the summer my horses are hosed with the bridles on with copious amounts of water which would quickly ruin the leather.  So I dunno.

In the meantime we need to work on our trail riding.  The weather is nice and I miss just crunch, crunch, crunching through the woods. ~ E.G.


  1. You might try one of these:

    I have her version where instead of having the ropes that cross under the chin, you add your own curb strap, either leather with chain like she pictures, or you could do a flat nylon or leather instead. It goes great with my biothane and you don't have to care for it like leather.

  2. Hi EG, really been enjoying your training posts about Journey! I've been making sidepulls for friends out of Beta, just thought I'd offer to give the special one you are talking about a shot if you could get some detailed pictures. Shoot me an email if you're interested!

  3. E.G- so if I understand right, the previous owner went bitless but used spurs??? That seems a bit like a contradiction to me. Kinda like people who put a toilet seat cover on the pot but then walk out of the bathroom without washing their hands... lol! At the risk of playing devils advocate here; your struggle to get Journey soft in the bridle at a walk is going to be an uphill battle without a bit. It can be done but "effective" communication in order to get a horse to soften through the poll and topline without a bit is hard to come by. I don't necessarily agree with the "Bitless" theory or the line of thinking that bits cause pain for the horse. It's the hands behind the bit that cause the pain in most cases. Granted, there are horses that simply do better without a bit , usually horses that have had an injury to the head or mouth or a really bad experience , usually, brought on by a person/trainer. These horses aren't the norm. People are quickly scared off by horses that initially (supposedly) "fight the bit" with chewing,chomping, getting the tongue over the bit, etc.. and quickly assume their horse hates the bit. I think people jump to conclusions too quickly on that. All that display of behaviors doesn't always mean the horse hates the bit. You take any colt who is just getting started and they will do the same thing. They just aren't used to it and eventually the mouth quiets...again, as long as the hands behind the bit aren't harsh. Anyways, that's my two cents... as a little something else to chew on... some of the best horseman in the world are the Spaniards.. they all use bits... why do you suppose that is???

  4. Jan,

    No...the trainer was using bitless and a spur. She was collecting up nicely. I'm not competent in spurs at this point in my riding, or maybe I should say not confident enough to try them without some training of my own first. Journey was in a bit when I got her, but all the chewing, tongue going over, around, and on and on was driving me to distraction. But I may have to tough through it to get what I want long term. I don't want her traveling hollowed out at the trot like many horses I see. We are just beginning to get some topline muscles built and want to keep that going, get a nice head set, and her lifting her back. ~ E.G.

  5. Jonna...sorry that should have you, not Jan *sigh* (it's the brain)(sometimes it doesn't work!)

    Breanna I'd like to see some of your sidepulls, link?

    ~C: on the rope bridle with the leather curb, how is your horse doing with maintaining collection? I like the looks of that thing. I think the nose band on my hack is so soft that she isn't getting a lot of "feel" from it.

  6. He's actually doing really well with collection and headset in the bitless. I even lunged him with a surcingle and side reins and he definitely was able to figure out how to round and come down into the pressure. His biggest problem is lack of consistency on my part, not a lack of understanding what I want. I even rode him at a cutting/reining trainers barn and after some severe skepticism (english saddle and all!), she did give him compliments.

    While I have bitted him before and he's okay and quiet with a french link snaffle in his mouth, he takes VERY HIGH offense to me trying to do any sort of a one-rein emergency flexion with a bit on and promptly sets to bucking. EVERY TIME. =( So we have an agreement, he can go bitless if I can have brakes. So far it's working VERY well for the both of us.

  7. Sorry it's taken me so long to get these for you, but here are some photos of one of the sidepulls I made. This is my own personal one, unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of the other ones before they were gone...

  8. Breanna - I'm really interested in buying one of these from you, with a few modifications. Would you please contact me at:
    ctsinatra at ?

  9. Can you tell me what colors you will want? The black is cheaper than doing one in, say, all purple... :) The one shown in the pictures I will do for $60(without reins), plus whatever it costs to ship (probably around five bucks).

  10. Do you think you could make the contraption in my picture? I'm on the fence... It is basically a thick (double) nose band with two rings, and wide curb strap (same width as the nose band) and I'd want black. You can email me:

    I asked about the price of the other for the sake of the lurker's out there who might want to source a sidepull from you. They are very nice. You might want to post up an email address (up to you).

  11. Ok, I sent you an email.

    If anyone else is interested, my email is