Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ready to rumble!

Doesn't he look ready to work! He was very eager and willing today. Notice he's standing very happily tied. I've been tying him up regularly, grooming him, and just letting him stand for awhile before I do anything else. He seems to have figured it out. And no, he's not tied to the chain link fence! He'd rip that thing down in half a second if I did. My snubbing post is right next to the chain link.

I dug out a loose ring snaffle Myler bit that I absolutely love, cobbled together a bridle big enough to fit his giant head and put it on him. What a mouthy, mouthy beast he is! He played and played and played with that bit. He sucked it up in his mouth, tried to suck it back to his molars to gnaw on it and wiggled it around quite a bit with his tongue. I left his rope halter on and just worked him off the halter without touching the bit. I want him to get used to having a bit just hanging around in there not doing a thing before I start working him off the bit itself. He had a nice, thick white "lipstick" of foam on his mouth and around the bit by the time we were done. Foam is good!

I love, love, love the Myler bits. They are a tad pricey, but I really like the design of their basic bits. The more "advanced" styles of bits boggle me and I see no use for any of them.

The one I put on him is a Myler Loose Ring Comfort Snaffle, like this one.
The typical loose ring snaffle can have a potentially painful "nutcracker" effect, especially on horses with fairly narrow jaws and low palates. He has both. The Myler bits are curved to follow the contour of the mouth and tongue and add a curved "barrel" where the joint is to eliminate the nutcracker effect. It's a very, very mild bit and most horses I've used it on seem to respond very well to it. It's not entirely a copper mouth, it does have copper inlay, which has a similar effect of a full copper mouth.

The way he responded to the loose ring today I'm rethinking the full cheek snaffle. I may just leave him in this one for awhile and see how it goes. If we need to go to the full cheek, we will. I do, however, need a bridle that fits him, one that's not cobbled together from about four other bridles! He looked like an unkempt street urchin with his oh-so-attractive bridle of various shades of leather, including black AND that really, really light blondish shade. Sad.


  1. I'm glad that Gabe is coming along. I'll bet he and Gabbrielle would get along famously. They are mirror images almost. I prefer Myler bits as well. I've looked at other ones, but always end up choosing a Myler.

  2. I thought gabe was a race horse. Was he Harrness? He already should know bits and saddles and being tied up. I don't understand. He's not a baby. Just wundering.

  3. Uncle David...I'm glad you asked! He was a racehorse. He does know bits and saddles, but he knows them as a racehorse, not a pleasure horse. He was trained to associate the saddle and bridle with galloping because that was his job. The first time I put a saddle on him he wiggled and jigged and got really "up" because he associated the saddle with running. I don't really want to deal with that in the saddle, so he gets to learn it on the ground. He has never had a rider's legs on his sides, only the whip, so that's a whole new feel for him. He wasn't trained how to whoa as a pleasure horse. He knows whoa, but on the track, he had a mile to stop, and I expect him to stop within a stride or two of the request.

    He was never taught to stand tied. Most racehorses aren't expected to stand tied because they don't have to and trainers don't have time to screw around with that. They are held while groomed and tacked and shod or vetted. They aren't even expected to stand still when the jockey mounts because the jockey is tossed up there while the horse is walking. His halter manners were non-existent and he thought nothing of walking all over me, pushing me around or just deciding he was done being where he was and trying to take off. It was very much like having a baby horse (a HUGE baby horse!) without a clue. I won't use a chain on his face or in his mouth (unless absolutely necessary), so I had to teach him to respond to normal pressure from the halter instead of hauling him around with a chain. Have you ever gone to the track and watched the horses led into the paddock before a race? Zero manners. They are ALL over the place, all over their handlers, rearing and most acting like high-strung babies without a clue. And every single one of them has a chain in his mouth, under his lip or around his nose because its the only way to get their attention.

    Being a racehorse is a whole different world than being a pleasure horse. Many of them spent 23 hours a day in a stall, only coming out to run. Most of them have never had to deal with hills, trees or unusual footing. Most of them haven't been turned out in a pasture with other horses since they were a year old and have a hard time figuring out how to be a horse again.

    It's not just training him to be a pleasure horse, it's retraining him NOT to be a racehorse. 'Cause honestly, I love galloping, but I want to gallop on a horse I KNOW will stop and turn when asked, not a mile after I asked it!

  4. Thank you for the input Jenny. Sounds like alot of work ahead of you. Good thing Gabe is reponding well.And YES he sure is BIG for a baby. All the training will give you something more to do than just ride. He might turn out to be like Sundancer. Not affraid of anything you ask him to do,or go. TRUST. Sundancer was a great Trail horse.

  5. Very handsome boy you have. Good luck with your training. I have a 2 1/2 year old warmblood and enjoy reading your desensitizing methods - I think I may try some....especially the umbrella trick!

  6. five o'clock...thank you! He is a pretty handsome fella...and I think he knows it! Two and a half...what a FUN age! That's when they start that naughty "teenage" phase and test your leadership.