Monday, February 22, 2010

Fox Hunting Bridleless!

In my travels throughout the web researching the Micklem bridle and other bitless bridles, I somehow stumbled across this rather awesome page. Chris Armour's Help for Heroes page A huntsman named Chris Armour has a fund raising page set up to raise money for soldiers wounded in the conflict in the Middle East. He rode his horse on a hunt without a bridle to bring interest to the cause. If you go to the link, be sure to check out the pictures on the page.

I also found a video of his ride!

More pictures can be found here

I wish I could have seen more. I've fox hunted in the past and it can be a wild ride sometimes. I give Mr. Armour and his horse, River, credit to have that good a partnership that they could safely ride in company out in the open country without a bit or bridle. I've seen demonstrations of bridleless riding, much like those about to follow, but never quite in this context.

Here are 3 more really great videos of bridleless riding;

And no bridleless riding post would be complete without Stacey Westfall and Roxy!

"Sigh" I can't wait for this winter to thaw out. I miss riding.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Micklem Multibridle - I'm Intrigued

I've been checking these out online for a while now and find them interesting. I found out very quickly that Rugby is not easy to fit to a bridle. Only one of Monty's bridles could be made to fit him and I've had to buy a new bridle in Oversize for a better fit. I now have an oversized flat leather hunt bridle and a black, raised leather flash nosed dressage bridle. I've been selling tack like crazy on Ebay to clean house. None of my bits fit either, Rugby wears a 6 inch mouth and all the bits I have are 5" or 5-1/4" mouth bits. I'm keeping a few of the "classic" styles of these smaller bits but most of the other stuff I've collected is also moving on Ebay.

Rugby has a very wide jowl, he has a warmblood to draft sized browband, warmblood crownpiece and needs a warmblood noseband. He has a smallish mouth and though he needs a 6" bit, I'm not convinced he's really comfortable with a bit. The only style bit that works well on him is the 3 piece mouth Sprenger type bits.

So, new horse has meant many changes in the tack room as well. Since I've got a little extra money from selling my smaller tack, I'm very tempted to buy one of these Micklem bridles. I'm intrugued by it's multiple features and that it can be bitless or bitted. The new "Competition" style is more streamlined but has less features, such as the noseband ring for lunging (which I don't think I'd be using much anyway).

I've been reading anything I can find about it by people who've used it. There seem to be discussions both for and against, as I expected, but it seems to be more in favor of the results from using it. I wish there was a tack shop nearby that had a "loaner" model that I could test first.

I've posted some links below for further reading about this new bridle and if anyone reading has used one I'd enjoy hearing your experience with it.

Micklem Multibridle

Bitless Forum - Micklem Bridles

Forum Discussion - Micklem Multibridle

Should Bitless Bridles be Allowed in USEF Competitions?

Video - Fitting the Micklem Bridle

And here's a "Friday Funny" for you that I just came across! "Yeah. He's the best horse in all of Europe." LOLL!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

This IS Bad Riding

I can't take credit for finding this video. I was reading the Bad Riding Blog and it was the first entry today. But it made me grit my teeth enough that I decided to share it over here, too.

Where do I start? The horses in this video are simply magnificent animals. The riders - not so much. Not only are they not the greatest riders but they obviously aren't the brightest, either. We could make a contest out of spotting how many things are wrong in what's going on here, ending with their decision to take the jump.

When the first rider jumped her horse, I cringed. But when the second rider, the one using DRAW REINS approached the jump I kept saying, "No, no, no, no, no he's not - not with draw reins," well, you'll see where that got him in the video. The poor horse couldn't extend his neck to balance for the jump and almost has a nasty injury.

I watch stuff like this and ask myself, why is karma like this? I have a green, grade horse that I'm taking the tiniest of steps with and then you have fools like this, riding elegant, athletic, well-bred horses and treating them like a drunk driver behind the wheel of a Ferrari.

Good riding is more than sitting well and having soft hands and a good release, it's making good decisions too. If this is your "first time jumping" as the video title indicates, this is not the way a good horseman attempts it. Sorry.

Just, wow.

And for those of you who may say, "I've jumped with draw reins before" well, so have I but only over gymnastic cavaletti pole to small fence exercises. I'd never use them under circumstances like this and always with a trained professional to guide me. I've attached some links below for further reading and discussions about the proper uses for draw reins as this seems a good time to add that subject as well.

Using Draw Reins and Side Reins

Discussion on Draw Reins and Jumping

Can I Improve my Horses' Jumping Style?

Question: Draw Reins - Good or Not?

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My Cuddly Valentine Pony

I just got an awesome new cell phone and it's even more awesome in that it takes really great pictures. So I thought I'd snap some pix of Rugby to share for Valentines.

He's watching the grooms getting the bran mash fixins ready at the feed shed.

Isn't he a little shrimp? Remember, that's 17.1 hands of fuzzball!

How cute is this face? Even cuter in person! He was a good boy today doing what little groundwork we could. The ground is plowed in the small riding arena but slushy and icy in spots. He got special Valentine snacks afterward that my sons bought for him. They bought him a container of Stud Muffins. I got a laugh when I read the label. It says to feed 3-4 treats per 500 hundred pounds bodyweight per day. LOL! In that case, I should just give him the entire container! Last time I tried the weight tape on him, Rugby was wider than the tape and the tape only goes to 1350 pounds. The Big Guy rules!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Is your Horse a Cartoon Character?

So lately I've taken to calling Rugby my Panda Pony. Obvious, right? Since he's huge, kinda cuddly and fuzzy and black and white all over. Then I started thinking about how he makes me think of the panda character, Po from the movie, "Kung Fu Panda".

He has some other things in common with Po. Here's my list of top 5;

- He's VERY food motivated.

- He has a good heart and means well even if it doesn't always work out.

- He'd make a great stuffed toy.

- He has a LOT to learn!

- (I think he secretly dreams of being a hero, too)

So what do you think? What cartoon character does your horse remind you of and why?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Found a little motivation today!

Rugby's hoof trimmer was scheduled to come by and work on him today. Sure enough, I got the call and was at the barn to meet the trimmer and his wife at the usual time. Rugby was a gentleman to work on and I think this was his fastest hoof trim yet. All four hooves are great. Healthy, no thrush, no cracks and good strong hoof wall. Love!

It was sunny and a bit warmer today so after the hoof work was done, I brushed Rugby off and saddled him, figuring I'd do a little groundwork and lunging for respect. The footing was thawed enough on the surface to be comfortable to walk trot and canter on, as well as toss a buck here and there. But overall Rugby was a good boy. He enjoyed being asked to do something and was so good I decided not to stop with the lunging. I removed the string from my training whip, switched it with his lunge line and attached to his rope halter. I mounted up and did lateral flexing exercises from the saddle. Then dismounted, walked him around, remounted again and repeated the flexing exercises from the saddle.

I was so happy with him. This was the first time I tried him bitless from the saddle and he was a champ. Granted, it wasn't much, it was barely what you'd call riding but a year ago if he'd been sitting around for a month in the middle of winter and you asked me to try that I would have thought you were joking! I love my big fuzzy Panda Pony. I'm wishing for spring so we can really get our game on.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Winter Exercises for when you can't ride your horse

I have the motivation of a slug. I know I should do SOMETHING with Mr.Greenie pants. But the thought of piling on layers of clothing to drag my lazy carcass to the barn to be looked at by my horse like, "What are you doing here? You are NOT taking me out of my warm stall, are you?" doesn't give me much encouragement.

What little we have done in the last month has been good. He's retained all his basics even with my slacking. January is a lousy month for me. I have to travel on business to two trade shows in this one month. I lose 2 entire weekends and in the winter, the weekends are about all I get for working with Rugby.

The tremendous snowstorm they were predicting this weekend did nothing in Suffolk county on Long Island. So "Snowmageddon" was an epic FAIL by my house. I repaired my horses' freshly cleaned turn out blanket this afternoon but I still haven't been able to get myself to the barn.

My NH trainer, Tony has some videos posted at the website. "Talkin' Horses". I finally got the chance to watch them this morning. His series on things to work on with your horse when the weather and conditions are not good for riding have given me a little more motivation to go and play with Rugby. Here are the two videos Tony has made for Winter Exercises to do to keep connected with your horse:

Talkin Horses - Winter Exercises part 1

Talkin Horses - Winter Exercises part 2

I hope they give some of you a little motivation too in this cold winter weather.