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Getting Geared Up

Getting Geared Up

I haven’t been the best blogger the past few weeks. Things are moving so quickly that it feels like the moment I think of a post to write, I’m already three days too late. It’s part of the joy of having a green horse; sometimes progress happens so fast its hard to keep track of all of the little things. 😅

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.

35. DE VOU COUX 

Big Horse’s Bit

Big Horse’s Bit

Obviously since I can’t ride Big Horse, I’ve decided to fuss over his food and tack instead.

Don’t look at me like that, will you please just fix yourself?  D:

I’ve been thinking about changing his bit for over a month now (since before he broke). I’ve never been a huge fan of the loose ring (too wiggly and too much worrying about pinching) and I’ve noticed that the corners of his mouth are a little pink after long rides. Plus the hunter ring tends to favor the D-ring over the loose ring (not that I’m competing in rated shows where it matters). I also might be biased towards the D-ring…

My first tattoo, a D-ring snaffle! (April 2nd)

A post shared by Stephani & Ezhno & Raglan (@two.hearts.one.oxer) on

But, on the other hand, he goes well in the loose ring and an eggbutt is more similar to a loose ring than a D-ring…

So began the great internal bit debate of 2017, which quickly spilled over to the internet when I started a thread on the Horse Forum about it. Of course, the topic at hand quickly lurched off course into a discussion about my noseband (not hunter legal, which I knew) and the height of my bit (a solid two wrinkles, as set by the trainer). Then somehow the thread spilled back into real life when one of the forum members came out to the barn to meet me (which was awesome 🙂 )! All in all, a lot of really good advice (some of which I took, some of which I didn’t) and discussion.

Trying out Calvin’s 5.5″ Kimberwicke to check sizing.

Here’s what’s come to pass along the way:

  • I switched back to the plain cavesson. After surfing a couple of pictures I didn’t really love the placement of the figure 8 anymore, so I went to the barn and tried to adjust it only to end up hating it more and ditching it entirely (lol).
  • If I wanted to continue with the loose ring, I should go bigger. I started with a 5″ loose ring, quickly went up to a 5.5″, and probably need to go up a little bit more if I want to try and negate some of the rubbing without resorting to bit guards.
  • My bit always looks like it’s too high in his mouth. I got a lot of opinions from strangers online telling me to drop my bit lower, but I actually can’t drop it down any farther because…
  • My horse has a short mouth. I didn’t realize this until Tinyliny from the Horse Forum pointed it out, but it means if I drop his bit it’s in danger of hitting his canine teeth. The top hole of my bridle barely puts it safely out of harm’s way.
  • I should switch to a D-ring. It’s similar enough to the loose ring to count, and if I’m going to be showing him in hunters (or even in HUS classes at Paint/Pinto shows), I might as well make the leap directly to the best bit choice.
  • Myler bits are well-designed and worth the money. They even got an endorsement from Trainer A, who said she likes how they fit in a horse’s mouth. That’s high praise!

In the end, I settled on a Level 1 Myler D-ring bit. I had a 20% coupon laying around from when I bought my bareback pad, so that plus Trainer A’s recommendation finally convinced me to bite the bullet (bite the bit?) on the Myler.

I started out with a 5.5″ Myler and then returned it for a 5.25″ (yes, 1/4″ does matter! D:< ), and now I’m happy with the size and excited for the moment when I can eventually try, you know, actually riding him in it.

Look at that handsome face!  🙂