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Getting Geared Up

Getting Geared Up

We’ve made some tack changes that I wanted to make sure I put down on here! I started to think about my tack right before my last lesson, when I had a series of not so great rides where Raglan was being a fussy baby about contact. I got a little advice from TrainerA, and then the experimentation began!

“mom, dis too many straps on face”

First thing I did was switch up the bit that we were using. I had been putzing around in a simple single jointed loose ring snaffle, but when he started acting up I messaged SellerH to find out what he went in before I bought him. She suggested I get a double jointed bit, so off to the Bony Pony I went! I tried two French link bits, a loose ring and an eggbutt. At first I didn’t love the fixed sides of the eggbutt (I felt like it made the reaction time of the bit much slower, like I was talking to him with a layer of cotton around my hands), but in the end I decided it was a better fit for us. I felt like the eggbutt was more forgiving of my not-always-awesome hands, and that he was more willing to stay with it than the loose ring.

The loose ring (left) is designed so that the bit isn’t stuck in one place and the rings can rotate, whereas the eggbutt (right) has a fixed cheek, so the ring can’t be rotated or moved around.

TrainerA also recommended I add a flash to Raglan’s noseband to prevent him from opening his mouth to avoid the contact while he’s being educated on the virtues of the horse-rider-handshake. This is something I had to do for Ezhno when he was first learning about contact, too. I don’t happen to own a flash, but I do have a figure 8, so I went ahead and added that to the mix after I was done playing with different bits.

Normal cavesson (left) versus the figure 8 (right). The figure 8 is designed to hold the mouth closed and prevent the horse from crossing his jaw without interfering with his airway.

The last addition to the mix is more for me than him: a running martingale. There have been a couple of moments during some of his I-don’t-want-to-go-forward tantrums where he’s gotten a little too close to my face. As a rider, I feel eight times more confident when I’ve got a martingale in my corner and I know the horse I’m riding can’t crack me in the nose. Plus it’s nice to have a little extra leverage for those moments where his head gets super high and he gets super strong. It’s made me feel a lot more comfortable!

You can see the rings of the running martingale starting to pull the reins down in this screencap. He was in the process of thinking about chucking his head into my face.

I’m still fussing with the fit of the martingale, but I’m happy with the changes for the time being! There will come a time when I can switch back to a regular noseband and no martingale, but for now our gear has me feeling very confident with the level of control I have over my unorthodoxly giant steed.

How to Buy a Saddle in 35 Easy Steps

How to Buy a Saddle in 35 Easy Steps

1. Buy a horse.

2. Decide that you should probably have a saddle for said horse so that you can stop borrowing your trainer’s tack.

3. Do a shit ton of research, then buy a flexible ruler and take wither tracings of your horse.

4. Take the tracings to the tack shop and pick out three saddles to take on trial.

5. Drive all the way back to the barn, only to realize none of the saddles fit your horse.

6. Throw all of your stupid tracings away and give up.

7. Impulse buy a saddle off of Ebay. (What could go wrong?) 

8. Ha ha ha, wow, no.

9. Buy a western saddle instead.

10. Remember that you hate riding western.

11. Buy a second horseone that your trainer deems “the most English of English horses”.

12. Refuse to let a western saddle touch your OTTB’s back.

13. Borrow your trainer’s ancient Crosby. It’s hard as rock, has no knee rolls, and makes you feel like you’re sitting on a 2×4, but at least you can actually feel your horse.

14. HATE HATE HATE your trainer’s spare saddle.

15. Resign yourself to resuming your doomed saddle search.

16. Wander into your local tack shop with a laundry list of things you want in a saddle (all for a super low price, of course).

17. Hope that they have a database so you don’t have to dig through the stacks.

18. Have to dig through the stacks anyways.

19. Have a minor heart attack when the sales associate pulls out a DevoucouxBUT PLAY IT COOL.

20. Whisper, “It’s French,” to your mother when the sales associate has her back turned.

21. Take three saddles on trial even though you’re already having a not-so-secret love affair with the Devoucoux.

22. Tell yourself that you’ll ride in the Devoucoux last.

23. Ride in the Devoucoux first.

24. Have a spiritual experience in the Devoucoux.

25. Realize that meeting the “establish the canter” goal by the end of November is doable with a saddle that hugs you like Velcro.

26. Admit that the flap on the Devoucoux could be a little shorter/more forward…

27. Sit in the other trial saddles for three seconds and then declare them the worst thing ever.

28. Try not to look too hopeful while TrainerA analyzes the fit on the Devoucoux.

29. Say, “It’s French,” at least three more times before the day is over.

30. Bounce back and forth between “it’s perfect” and “oh God, my wallet”.

31. Place it on an altar before TrainerM and pray that she doesn’t hate it.

32. Rejoice when TrainerM doesn’t hate it.

33. Spend the night plagued by last minute doubts because $$$

34. Buy it anyways.


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