lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I acquired three sets of long lines from Knotty Girlz. My initial intent was to just get one set of lines in order to replace the 22' Parelli Feather Lines with something 30' long because 22' just doesn't give me the distance I need to do good work on the long lines. I don't want to have to jog to keep up (hard to keep a soft connection in the hands while jogging!) while trotting and cantering circles or changing directions. Plus I want to be well out of the horse's way should something go awry (like taking exception to the line above their hocks the first time). While a good idea and a start in the right direction in helping Tru-D find forward with the long lines, the feather lines had their shortfalls. Literally.

While not in their lineup, Knotty Girlz happily made my lines and does other custom work. I had debated just getting the rope (their parent company is Columbia Basin Knot Company and they sell rope by the foot and wholesale) and learning how to splice (because I need another skill to develop in all my spare time). They sell an equestrian rope sample kit for $5 including shipping that has a brochure and about a dozen short lengths of rope all labeled with their size, material, and color so you can get a literal feel of their ropes. It also includes $5 off your next purchase so the rope sample is essentially free.

The double braid polyester (also referred to as yacht braid) was the same type of rope as the feather lines and felt good in hand. I then started thinking about the worth of my time learning and doing it myself versus paying them for their time and skill, so I messaged them through their website and got a promt reply with a quote for three sets: the 1/4" that I asked for, 5/16" and also a 3/8". I think this was clever upselling on their part as they ended up with triple the order! They initially quoted for snaps, which I corrected, just the eye splice loop. I have grown less fond of snaps plus I have a drawerful I could pull from if I changed my mind. They typically do three inch "diameter" eye loops. They use 6" of rope folded back on itself to create a 3" teardrop. I was afraid it would be a true circle diameter, but they explained it and that made more sense. The Feather Lines have a 1.5" eye splice loop so I compromised and asked for 2" on all of them. One of my clients got a pair of the 1/4" lines with a 3" eye spliced loop and while functional it isn't aesthetically pleasing.

Once the details were finalized from the length, loop size, the end of each rope (leather "poppers"), and color they billed me through paypal and within a week my lines shipped.

They arrived safe and sound and I was excited to try them out (bonus, selling both the Feather Lines and my old MCR lines paid for half the order!)

In addition to the lines I ordered bit straps from My Draft Horse Superstore (everything you need but feed) at $5 each so I could buckle to whatever I needed rather than hitching it through or hitching i5 to a snap. I used mini/pony ones for the 1/4" lines and "Haflinger" sized ones on the 5/16" and 3/8" and they have worked well. While the buckles aren't as convenient as snaps they aren't as bulky weight wise and they fit on any bit without issue, including the slots on a Kimberwick or Liverpool as well as on any halter or lungeing cavesson.

I've been working between the three sets of lines the last few weeks to feel them out and decide their best uses.

The 1/4" are hunter green and are light in the hand. They have enough body to be able to send a little life down them and also to swing them up and over with a fair amount of accuracy. I like that I can bunch them up and send then through the surcingle rings without having to feed it through foot by foot. Because they are round they slide easily through the surcingle rings when in use. They are also thin enough that holding the slack doesn't create unweildy bulk in the hand.

The downside is due to their size they are easier to get hung up on things since they can slide into narrower spaces. I had issue with it getting hung up on the kicking strap as I initially sent it over the hip, but it's a pretty minor thing. I also found that they work best with a sensitive horse when lungeing. Long lining it doesn't really matter, but while lungeing there isn't a whole lot of weight there so with horses who aren't so attentive there's only so much "noise" you can send down the line to call the horse's attention back to you.

The other issue is the grip. Previously when I long lined with my 1/2" lines or flat lines (forever ago...) I usually had the reins come out the top of my hand for ease of adjustment, but the 1/4" lines don't offer much traction so I've been using my usual riding/driving grip, having it come out between my pinky and ring finger to be sure I have traction when needed.

I haven't had the chance to long line using the two thicker lines, but I have done a bit of lungeing with them. The 5/16" lines I ordered in navy. They are a little heavier and offer more grip. I think they are a good medium between the 1/4" and 3/8" lines. I probably could have gone without this set, but it's another tool in the toolbox. They're a good set to grab if I might switch between lungeing and long lining and don't want both the 1/4" and 3/8" to drag along.

The 1/4" line is pretty convenient, however as the 30' length at that diameter is nothing to hold in the hand. I wouldn't recommend tying with it as I believe it's breaking point is under 2000lbs, but you could use it to lead as well as lunge and long linr without feeling like you're hanging on to a ton of rope.

The 3/8" lines are purple and close in feel to my old 1/2" MCR lines. They have enough weight to get attention back much quicker than the 1/4" lines, but a little less bulky than the 1/2" MCRs. I do like them as a lunge line.

Overall I do like the lines. I like using the bit straps to connect. They aren't as fast as a snap, but they don't bang the jaw or require extra energy to move. I like the leather poppers on the end of the lines because absent a whip you can twirl the end of the line to good effect. The color variety varies depending on the type of line, but most of them have several to choose from and I like having then color coded so I can just grab the color over looking at the size. I had debated getting each individual line a different color
to make it easy to tell the left from the right, but decided against it. It would be more for clients than me anyway and I'd rather remember three colors than six!

In brief I like my new lines. The 30' length is so much nicer to work with. Yes it is long, but dealing with the slack is no big deal, especially with the 1/4" lines. I look forward to many years of use ahead!

Additional bonus, today I discovered I could use the bit straps to keep the lines tidy. Now I don't have to fight a tangled mess and they can hang neatly on the hook together!
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
Today was crazy-busy. I had five lessons starting at 7am and then took a client to pick up her new mare from Casa Grande at 2pm. After all was said and done I got home a bit after 5pm.

I'll talk about my client and her horse later (spent four hours horse shopping Thursday). Today is about Bud! Well, actually it's about Trensen Knebel.

Bud is sporting them, though he wasn't being very photogenic for me.

I don't know if there is even an English word for them, but I guess "bit cheeks" would be the best descriptive words for them. The dictionary wants to call then "bit gags," though trensen refers more to the cheeks of the bit than the whole bit to my understanding.

Sue and Henry were feeling under the weather so I put a ride on Bud today. He goes quite well in the Stark Naked Bit (the purple thing), though I wanted to secure it so if he fussed with it, it would stay secure. For the most part he's good about not messing with it, but that's where the trensen knebel come in.

As you can see they are a small piece of metal with a hook attached. The "cheek" so to speak, goes through the ring on the halter and then hooks to the bit ring.

Bud did well. We reinforced the lesson that if he goes straight past home without changing pace or wriggling he gets home faster.

The Trensen Knebel are an awesome thing to have in the toolkit. You can use a regular bit on a horse who might have issues with its ears being handled (buckle the halter on, slide the bit in). It is an easy way to try multiple bits without having to fuss with buckles. It basically makes any halter a halter-bridle.

I picked up three pair from . They were happy to take my order and it was about $30 for the three pair including shipping, which was quite reasonable! The only downside is that you have to speak German in order to naviagte the website. A few places I looked at wouldn't ship to the USA so I was happy to find one that would!

I plan on messing with them a bit more here and there. I haven't tried them with the rope halters and I don't think it would be very feasible since it wouldn't have a good place to lock into, but I'll play with it and see!
lantairvlea: (powerpuff crop)
Mark Rashid is an author I've been meaning to read for a while. One of my clients gifted me "Horses Never Lie" last year and that put it a bit higher on the list of things to read.

This was a pretty quick read and it was very easy to read. Mark Rashid has an easy and enjoyable style of writing that allows the pages to move right along. The book is a combination of memoir, training anecdotes, and philosophy.

It made me think a little harder about some of the things I do with my horses and how to better work with them and help them do their jobs (I need to get the body worker out again for example).

It was a book about training horses, but not in the classic sense of do this for that result and you should progress in these steps. No, it was about an overarching philosophy that involves true partnership in which both parties have a say.

As I noted in my review of the Parelli DVDs, some profess the idea of a "partnership" with the horse, but they give the horse all these things to do and all the responsibility for doing them without any real say or feedback in the process. Does your horse really need to circle around you while you stand there completely disengaged in order for the horse to be considered a "partner?" Do you need to repeat the same exercise daily even if your horse has done it perfectly and proven that he understands it? If your horse doesn't give you the "right" answer right away do you really have to escalate the cue or aid? The latter lesson I learned from Cinnamon. If she does something when I give an aid, even if it isn't the right thing, I do not escalate because she gave me a response. I keep the aid the same and stay quietly persiatent until I get the answer I want, otherwise she escalates her negative response.

The book centered around the idea of passive leadership. Passive doesn't mean that the leader doesn't do anything to actively engage with its followers, but passive refers to how the leader came to its position. The passive leader doesn't size up the competition and squash them into the dirt to prove their dominance. The passive leader is chosen by its followers. The passive leader exemplifies traits that the horse finds comforting and trustworthy, the most important of these being fairness and consistency.

In short, it was a great read and I would highly recommend it!
lantairvlea: (Tru-D)
This is a Dressage classic by many standards. It is not nearly so dense as D'Endrödy's "Give Your Horse a Chance," but quite a bit more specific than Oliveira's "Reflections on Equestrian Art."

I enjoyed it. It's always funny to realize how much things have both changed, but stayed the same. He lamented several times over people taking shortcuts with their horses, competitive dressage not holding the same standard for correctness as the Spanish Riding School, and horses being overbent. The reading level is moderate. It isn't overly technical, but I wouldn't recommend it to someone who isn't familiar with horses either.

He starts outlining history, naming many master horsemen of the distant past and the written works some of them left behind.

He outlines important principles of riding and training, such as "the self-taught person can never become more than a workman; only on a foundation of theory can riding develop to the realm of art." That is so true. I know I wouldn't be anywhere near the horseman (man used in the sense of huMan kind rather than apecifically gendered) I am today if I had to rely on just my own experience and experimentation.

He tries to keep the scope of the book focused, but he does touch on the importance of knowing as much as one can about the horse as a creature and not merely as something you ride. Good advice includes "any rider would be well advised to study the conformation of the horse he proposes to train" and he goes on to explain that while he is laying down the principles "there is no definite rule as to how to put them into practice." He further reminds us that "there are no rules for any difficulties that may appear. Remesies that are successful with one horse may prove unsuccessful with another." This coming from a man who spent 26 years at the Spanish Riding School, I am inclined to believe that there is no single training method that will work with every single horse. He reiterates this point several times throughout, that you should not be rigid in your application of training and to tailor it to the individual horse.

He thoroughly discusses the various gaits and paces of the horse and various other aspects including having the horse "on the bit," collection, "Raising the head and neck by action of the hindquarters" (what some would now term relative elevation), bending, and the aids.

On the aids he notes that one should only use their own body plus a whip and/or spur, anything else is a gimmick. He is careful to note that "the spur should never be used sharply as an aid, because it would then no longer be an aid but a punishment."

With the reins he warns that contact should never become a steady pull as the horse is guaranteed to win the tug-of-war.

While discussing the balance between rein and leg aids he states "the rider should never push more with his legs than he can control with his reins, or hold with his hands more than he can absorb with his legs and seat." The later makes more sense if you know that the rein aid does not act within the rider's arm alone, but should travel through the rider into his seat so that it can then transfer into the horse's back and haunches.

He talks in detail about the place of punishment, prefacing it with the warning that it should be restricted and "thevalue of punishment shouldnever be over-rated and employednas a substitute for correct aids."

He discusses the training of the horse from the lunge line to under saddle and in-hand work up to the airs above the ground.

Here he discusses the purpose of dressage, which is doubly to obtain clear, pure paces, and to make the horse stronger and more beautiful. This theme is visited again and again, which can be boiled down to the quotes "If during the course of training the natural paces are not improve, it would be proof that the training was incorrect" and "if the horse does not become better looking innthe course of his training, it would be a sign that the training was incorrect."

There was an annoyance in the middle of the book where the pages were printed out of order. At page 145 in order to follow the text properly younhave to jump to page 148, then 147, then 146 before proceeding to page 149. What editor didn't notice that?!

Much of the book is full of things I am already aware of from reading other volumes, but it is also good to go back to source material and see the foundation that others have built on. Some day I'll bridge the gap between Podhajsky and Xenophon, who Podhajsky quotes multiple times.

I'm slowly making mybway through my equestrian library. Next up Mark Rashid's "Horses Never Lie" before tackling Dr. Gerd Heuschmann's other two books.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I took advantage of a $30 credit and their clearance sale to snag the groundwork set from the Parelli store for $50 including shipping (eight disks, folders and workbooks) so not a bad deal.

I've been watching it while nursing Quentan, otherwise I doubt I'd have gotten through it so quickly!

The set comes with two folders with the disks tucked neatly into the outer covers. The first one goes over the games and levels and has the disks with Pat Parelli demonstrating. The second folder has the student lessons with the task you should be able to do at each level (and don't forget to sign up and submit your video to earn stuff!). It also has little pocket booklets for each level so you can check in if you have a problem while working with your horse or forgot what game you're supposed to be playing next.

The designs are pretty slick and many of the images are pulled from the videos. I reiterate I am not a fan of Parelli, but I do have a healthy amount of respect for what they have managed to build. Their marketing and design people are superb.

The first set of disks is Pat Parelli giving his spiel as he demonstrates each of the levels and their purpose. The disks also had tips and some troubleshooting. I admit I didn't watch much of the tips. They were a bit dull and demonstrated by other Parelli professionals (at least the two I watched before getting disinterested were...). I probably would have been more interested in exploring the extra features if I was intent on doing their program. I don't recall the troubleshooting as I then watched the four student lesson disks which was pretty much hours of troubleshooting.

The demonstration disks are obviously with horses that have done this stuff a lot. There were maybe one or two moments of the horses having a bit of a question, but that's horses. I was wondering why they kept having the little Parelli symbol show up in the corner of the screen and supposedly you could click and it'd jump you to tips or troubleshooting infomation, but I just found it visually annoying.

The student lesson disks featured one horse and handler pair for each level. It was balanced with two ladies and two guys from 20-something to a bit past middle-aged. I imagine they planned it that way and it was an intentional choice to show that the program "works" for all types of people. The horses were lacking in variety. Three stock horses (Quarter Horses and possibly a very minimal Paint) and a Paso Fino. I wish they could have gotten the same variety in their horses as they did the human students. I'll take a moment to note all the horses Pat Parelli worked with in the first set of disks were Quarter Horses too. Chris was laughing and made a few jokes about the tiny horses and how it seems the more advanced your horsemanship skills supposedly get the smaller the horses are (he makes fun of Clinton Anderson with his tiny reining and cutting bred Quarter Horses as well, and let's face it, I make fun of them too).

Tangent aside the student videos were more interesting to me as you saw a lot more problem solving. What I didn't like is that often when Pat Parelli would take over during a difficult moment he would change the game a bit. It made me wonder if they are really setting up this program for people's success or are they withholding juuust enough information to make people feel like they HAVE TO spend a thousand dollars for a week in Colorado with them or they HAVE TO be a member of the Ultra Supreme Savvy Club in order to get all of the secrets to awesome communication with your horse because you're obviously not going to get it just watching the DVDs.

I think what bothered me more wasn't that he was pulling out alternate solutions, but more that he was taking over and doing something sometimes completely different without verbally suggesting it first. Had he just done it once it wouldn't have stuck out so much, but it happened a couple times in each lesson. It also tells me that the people coming into the lesson weren't exactly properly prepared and had gaps in their basic understanding of how the horse operates as they were just applying the formula rather than feeling for what the horse needs and being able to be nimble and adjustable.

The rope-wiggle is probably the biggest example of that. In the third or fourth demonstration disk he mentions that the rope wiggle is something they have at the lower levels as a "don't run me over!" cue. I wish they would mention that when it is introduced rather than waiting for a higher level to say "well we really don't want to be whacking them with the clip under their chin and inverting to back so now we're not doing that so much." This was pretty obvious when he kept having to tell everyone but the first level student to lay off the rope wiggling multiple times. I admit I do occasionally wriggle ropes at horses, but it is exactly in a "Stop crowding me!!" situation when I don't care how they do it so long as they get out of my space. Watching the rope jerk back and forth does get annoying on behalf of the horse and I have made a mental note to be extra aware of my own rope handling.

A few other things I noticed was Pat Parelli has decided that "desensitizing" is a bad thing. He calls it confidence building. Granted, eight years ago he was using the term desensitizing and people are allowed to change their minds and evolve their message I just find it funny that he now thinks it is no good.

He uses a lot of catch-phrases that I now know started with the likes of the Dorrances and Ray Hunt without attribution, which is a little annoying. There is the insinuation that the Parellis are The Source of All Horse Knowledge and their program is the best and will work for anyone (when done correctly). The impression that it sprang from their genius minds with minimal external input reads to me as slightly dishonest, though I am sure it isn't intentionally so.

I do find it amusing that their groundwork progression goes from using lines and having connection to "progressing" to liberty work and on the riding side they go from droopy loose reins and "progress" to more contact.

There was very little verbal communication with the horse. For someone who supposedly wants to promote the softest cues possible why not use the voice? There wasn't even much in the way of verbal praise to let the horse know it did the right thing, just the rope no longer whipping under the horse's chin. I couldn't help but think "If you just said "whoa" the horse might get the idea you want it to stop there a bit quicker..." or "if you said "walk" you wouldn't have to jiggle the rope so much or constantly disengage the hindquarters to slow down..." I guess I'm a bit wordy. Moreso now as I've come into driving where the voice takes the place of your weight aids. I just don't see why you would ignore the chance to be even lighter with your horse by using your voice instead of a physical cue.

I did start to get a little cynical about Parelli's desire that the horse "act like a partner." Especially as he or the student stands there, seemingly disengaged from the horse and expecting it to circle around them endlessly at the trot or the canter. I told Chris I was reminded of watching road workers where one guy is in the hole digging and another one (or two) standing there "supervising" doing absolutely nothing. I don't know about you, but that really doesn't look or sound like a partnership to me. It feels more likea show-off trick than something that really serves a purpose in the horse's training.

With all of the circling I wonder how Pat Parelli managed with mules when he was into them as I know mules quickly determine that endless circles are pointless. Also for someone who supposedly believes that lungeing in endless circles is pointless or lungeing to wear a horse out is as well, he does a whole lot of circling without changing pace or direction to engage the horse's brain.

In Level Four they introduced their "feather lines" for ground driving, which are very thin rope, maybe a quarter inch thick, about the same as the string on the training sticks and about 22' long. They don't use a surcingle at all, which could be problematic and results in a lot of hands-above-the-head maneuvering from the handler, including Pat Parelli himself because without a surcingle to help hold up the lines you have to keep your hands high to be sure the horse doesn't step on or over them (*gasp!* Parelli not taking advantage of possibly selling people more stuff! I'm sure they could make a wonderful, expensive surcingle). I love driving, but I don't think this sets up most people to be very successful with it and their horse.

The first thing he did in the first demonstration video was show where the halter should sit and how to properly tie the knot, however he didn't enforce this with the students. He did correct the fit on one, but that was after at least 45 minutes of the horse being worked and he sort of mumbled as he adjusted it up without any fanfare or emphasis about why he was adjusting it. Another one had the halter nose just above the horse's nostrils and the jaw strap was almost completely in front of the horse's cheek muscle with no correction that I can recall. I am picky about halter fit because the halter functions best when it is on properly. If you have it too loose several things can happen, namely excessive poll pressure, excessive pressure over the free floating portion of the nasal bone, and the halter possibly slipping off the nose. Some horses will react strongly to excessive poll pressure. When the jaw (jowel, throat, the part that should fit behind the cheek) strap is across the cheek rather than behind it, engaging the lead applies pressure almost exclusively to the poll, which many horses will thrown their heads up in response to. When the halter is properly fitted the pressure gets distributed behind the ears as well as behind the jaw giving the head a sort of "hug" to encourage the horse to step forward.

For someone to proposes to be particular, checking your one piece of equipment for fit seems like it should be a no-brainer. He also noted he tries to find the biggest issue a pair is having and focus on that. For me that would be an equipment check first and then addressing the handler's issues. You can't expect the horse to perform its best if the tack isn't in a position to communicate your desires to the horse clearly!

If I want to be snarky I can say his math is off. He says each rope doubles the distance, but 12' is more than half of 22' and 22' is less than half of 45' I'm pretty sure!

In short, after watching all of the On Line Parelli DVDs I can say it hasn't really changed my opinion of the Parelli Program and, perhaps, made me slightly more incredulous. If someone were to tell me they were a Parelli professional or were hoping to be one I would be skeptical of their actual skill and the depth of their equestrian knowledge. Was it worth the money to satisfy my curiosity? Yeah. Would I ever pay full price? Not in a million years! It was nothing groundbreaking. The biggest thing for me was seeing the progression towards not needing lines. I am a little put off by leaving the lines all over the ground because someone is going to step on all that and get tangled like the Level Four horse did with the lariat.

Now I want to see some videos about working the horse in-hand ala classical dressage with the same funding behind it as the Parellis can put into theirs!
lantairvlea: (zetahra)
Our DVD player has a five disc changer so I've loaded it up with horse DVDs to watch. I did (over)indulge myself for my birthday and got the back issue set of The Horseman's Gazette in September. I had the judges' commentary from earlier in the year for the current On The Levels I hadn't gotten through yet as well as picking up the last two parts of the Parelli driving video series because they were on sale. I joined the Savvy club for an additional discount and got both for less than the cost of one. They also gave me a bunch of credit and had another sale so I picked up their "On Line" series for cheap so I could glean what I can from it and have a little more knowledge of the actual program (the handbooks... holy cow guys).

Needless to say I have quite the stack of videos I can plow through during my down time, especially those times with a baby glued to me. I'm also doing some reading, but I'm indulging in videos because usually I don't.

So I recently finished the Parelli-endorsed video series on driving. I will note that I am not much of a Parelli fan. It has some good stuff on principle, but the execution and tendency towards gimmicks that target one's pocket book rather than bettering your horse's training is not my cup of tea. I paid nowhere near full price for the series and would recommend finding it second hand or taking advantage of a super sale.

The presenter is Nate Bowers and endorsed by Parelli. His father was Steve Bowers who to my understanding was pretty well-respected in the driving community (my sense more among the working/draft sect, but I could be wrong). He's still a young kid and that comes across in some of his presentation.

I picked up the first part (two disks) when the Parelli crew were in town and I was getting ready to start Zetahra driving three or four years ago. While I was working with a more experienced trainer I was also eager to seek out additional ideas and things I could incorporate at home between sessions with the trainer.

While there were some good things in the first set of disks, like how to introduce pressure into the (breast)collar and breeching, ways to introduce long-lining (which helped with Tru-D as she really needed that "step the shoulder/step the hip" thing sperated to keep her relaxed), I was disappointed that they didn't reach the point of hooking the horse to anything and 80% of the work was done with his broke-to-death mare. They did have some brief bits with his wife's horse that was at the beginnings of the driving training, but not much.

One concept in part one that I was not a fan of was getting the horse to walk off from the rein aid. Pick one rein to tip the nose and release when the horse steps. My big problem with this is that I don't really want my reins to be associated with forward motion. I want to be able to ask for a bend without my horse moving off and this, to me, actively encourages something I try to avoid. Plus how do you really get a straight depart if you're constantly asking by bending?

The second set was pretty much about the mechanics of driving and while helpful to someone completely new to driving, those who are a bit experienced or well-read will find it a bit boring. He did note that set one was "things the horse should know" and set two was essentially "things the human should know," which I guess works. Use the horse information to get people hooked before going over the person-oriented info.

He touches on rein use and mentions the whip, but he is not keen on voice aids and generally doesn't use a whip so there is heavy emphasis on rein use only (I'll reiterate I'm really not a fan of how he teaches the horse to step forward off of rein pressure). I guess this might make it more friendly for the beginning driver, but from a personal, communication, and safety standpoint I see the frustration and time spent getting proficient in using a whip and having a horse who is softly obedient to it worth the effort! So while he does cover rein aids, use, and effect he basically says "this is a whip, but I don't use one." He leans towards open bridles, but I imagine that ties into the fact that he doesn't really use whips so doesn't have to worry about a horse reacting to the movement of the whip over the touch of it (which is pretty much my #1 reason for using a closed bridle, to ensure an honest, relaxed response to the whip).

The third set of disks they do finally get the horse hitched starting with simple loads/drags and moving up to how to approach the first few times in the cart. He talks a lot about "commitment-free comittment" and how to hook the first few times to introduce the concept while being able to release quickly in case of trouble. He has some good ideas, but there are others I prefer more (namely the panic snap or string connection Clay Maier uses, it's a shame his website has disappeared off the face of the internet, would have loved to acquire some ofnhisnother DVDs...). Once again it fell a little short of what I was hoping for. While they did hook the horse it was again 90% done with a fully trained horse so there really wasn't anything organic about the presentation. The other horse who wasn't broke to death had previously been broke to drive as a young horse and was being re-introduced after years away from it and they didn't spend any real time with it and the cart.

Overall impression as stated before: wouldn't pay full price for it. It falls a little flat, though it does have some useful information I have referred back to and given me a couple of tools and ideas to add to my toolbox. I imagine they probably shot the whole thing over a couple of days and they used the same space throughout despite some early inages of him driving out in an open field.

I would view it as more of a checklist to refer to as it doesn't really have any trouble-shooting, just "if your horse gives you a yellow/red light you need to go back a step" without much discussion on what a "worried" horse necesarily looks like ir where the holes might be.

Oh, and what Parelli video would be complete without a gimmick? He has these "shaft shelf" loops that he uses during his first hitches to the cart. It has a steel ring wrapped in leather to keep the shaft loop/hobble/tug from collapsing around the shaft. It basically allows the shafts to freely slide out of the loops if necessary. I can't imagine them being cheap and, really, if your traces aren't attached you better have someone holding onto the cart anyway, which should provide the effort necessary to pull the shafts from the loops.

I'm thinking I should start putting together some hort, instructional videos this year.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I cannot begin to say how opposite Mr. Oliveira's work is in comparison to Lt. Co. D'Endrödy's. "Reflections" is a slim volume. It doesn't contain pages of specific exercises to rocket you to Grand Prix in five months, but just as the title says, it is a collection of Mr. Oliveira's thoughts and reflections on various aspects of training the horse from qualities of the walk to airs above the ground.

Some lovely nuggets:

"The apex of perfection in equestrian art is not an exhibition of different airs and movements by the same horse, but rather the conservation of the horse's enjoyment, suppleness and finesse during the performance."

Captain Beudant's "Ask for much, be content with little, and reward often." Many equestrians have heard this from various sources. Mr. Oliveira comments that "In this last, lies the secret of leaving the horse still fresh, with a good impression for the next lesson."

When it comes to literature "All books are of use to the very advanced rider ... so that he can pick out the good advice,...while knowing which parts to discard.

"Above all, it is necessary to ride often, while not entirely allowing the books to gather dust on the shelves."

"Horses who have bad characters are rare: generally their vices are the result of inexpert handling by riders lacking experience."

"A horse is never trained through fear. Although progress maybe slown it is only by rational and gentle work that a horse can be called really trained."

"A horse can not be called submissive, nor in forward action, if the base of the neckis not in a stable position or if the neckis too yuelding, flinching from the contact of the bit and action of the reins."

"To speak clearly and simply always in thesame way isnone of the cornerstones of dressage."

Quoted from General Josipovich "The aim of dressage training is to eradicate from the horse stiffness in the joints, to develop in them flexibility, ease in movingnin a well balanced attitude in which they can continue a long time, much longer than an untrained horse, andwith less expendituee of strength."

"If the horse reins back without being asked to do so, or precipitates his reining back, the exercise is bad, it even may be said to be terrible."

His definition of collection is even balance between all four legs, which is contradictory to many suggesting that there needs to be more weight behind.

I could keep quoting, but some needs to be left in the book! Again, an enjoyable read and while brief packed with many nuggets of wisdom about handling and training the horse if not overly specific.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I have finally finished reading "Give Your Horse a Chance by Lt. Col. A. L. d'Endrödy. At over 500 pages it was quite the beast to get through and it is quite the technical manual on horsemanship.

Part One: Fundamental Objects of Riding

Part Two: Methods of Communication with the Horse

Part Three: Schooling the Rider and Horse in Jumping

Part Four: The Three-Day Event and Part Five: Show Jumping are reviewed below.

The bulk of the book is dedicated to the basic schooling of horse and rider, including the introduction of jumping in Parts One through Three. The final 120-odd pages of the 530 page beast address building the "finished" performance horse in Three-Day Eventing and Show Jumping.

In part four he goes over the requirements of the event in great detail starting with the Dressage phase, including tips for how to best prepare for the test and common trouble spots. He explains all of the paces required, including rein-back and each movement and figure.

He then covers "The Speed and Endurance Tests and Its Component Parts."

Nowadays the second phase is simply referred to as "cross-country," but it used to be way more than the single phase we see now in the "short format" of eventing. This section was really interesting to me as he discussed each of the phases, their purpose, and how to strategically tackle them all.

Roads and Tracks occurs twice during the second day and is the introduction to what d'Endrödy refers to as the "endurance tests." Roads and Tracks occurs primarily at the trot. In the first instance it serves as a "warm-up" for the rest of the day and the second occurance is between the steeplechase and cross-country and serves as a "rest" between these two intense phases.

The second phase, the Steeplechase, is performed at speed and he discusses how to prepare the horse for the speed demands as well as teaching the horse how to take jumps at this accelerated pace. The jumps are predominantly brush-types and inviting. He suggests riding with shorter stirrups and a position similar to that of a racing jockey, which makes sense considering the rate!

The final phase of the endurance test is the one most people are familiar with: Cross-Country. He introduces this phase with "this phase of the endurance test demands a high degree of intelligence, intensive training and great ability on the part of the horse," and it holds true. Since the other three phases were cut for the "short format" i.e. making it easier for TV coverage the cross-country has become much more technical. Some obstacles are also different. One of the pictures shows a horse sliding down a 70° slope 23' long, something I've never seen at an event and is certainly a test of rider and horse grit!

Lastly he talks about the Show Jumping phase before talking about the importance of proper fitness and conditioning before going into detail about preparing the horse over the course of the year, and considerations for what to do during the actual performance of the three-day event.

There are more calculations and tables with a lot of math. For a sport that is so much about "feel" you certainly can use math to take out some of the guesswork out of riding a certain line. Of course there is also something to be said about being able to keep all of these numbers in one's head for a full course after you figure them out on paper! He also briefly covers one-day events.

Part Five of the book covers show jumping and the special skills and consitioning required to do well.

He mentions rapping, which is something I hadn't heard of and am pretty glad is not widely practiced at this point so far as I am aware. Essentially one uses a long, stiff object (rod, pole, whatever, even the top rail of the jump itself) to rap the horse's legs as it jumps to encourage it to be more careful. For example a horse who tends to hang a leg would get a rap to encourage it to tuck up tigher as it goes over. He had a lot of caveats and precautions and emphasized the importance of the one doing the rapping being both out of sight of the horse and having exceptional skill and timing. He also mentions self-rapping by having the horse jump a single rail so that there is no ground line to help the horse judge or having a thin hollow metal pipe just above the top rail of the fence so that if it isn't careful it hits the pipe having the double effect of a hard knock and the hollow sound.

Following the show jumping section is a large collection of tables laying out (re)conditioning plans, show and competition schedules.

In conclusion I did enjoy the book, but wouldn't recommend it to your average horse person. It is extremely technical and the writing can get a bit dense in places as it does in any academic work. It is VERY thorough and I would love to read it again taking the time to follow all of his little cross-references. It does have a thorough index to help look up specific topics with ease. I do think it is a good book for anyone wanting to really dig into riding theory. I did find the first half more useful than the second, but my focus isn't on jumping or eventing (though some day a long format low-level event would be cool). I didn't highlight much of anything in these final parts, but I guess as you get to higher level competition all of the really hard work was in laying the foundation and while it is still work and certainly not easy getting a horse to the fitness and training to perform at the highest levels, it is much less about the theory and correction once that basic communication is established.

I've been reading this book slowly for over two years. I almost don't know what to do next!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
If I thought the previous two parts of this book were technical part three takes the cake! The third part focuses on the training of the horse to jump. It also goes over some math (gasp!) and calculations that can be used to determine the best strategy in addressing tricky combinations that are not neat distances apart.

He starts out easy enough, discussing how the horse should first be introduced to grond rails and cavelettis at no set distance apart before moving towards gymnastics. He includes the importance of working with varrying terrain as well like small ditches and banks.

With the gymnastics he discusses the use of each and how they affect the horse's jump, aiming to improve certain aspects of it. One of the set-ups he used was called the "star" with four jumps set up in a square and four others radiating from the corners of the square with various types of fences.

What I found particularly interesting was how he suggests one handles a refusal:
"Despite thorough schooling, a correct approach and a well-arranged fence, it still may happen that the horse will stop./ When this occurs the animal shold be held for 8-10 seconds facing the fence. Then it can be turned away and a fresh attempt made as if the former incident had never happened."

He does go on to say that repeated stops would warrant taps from the whip and that "the whip should only be sed to educate the animal, and not to punish it." Repeated refusals should also be addressed by dropping the difficulty of the fence and then building back up to the previous height (though not necessarily in the same session).

I found that a much gentler method than you often see applied nowadays in jumping.

This is echoed again when he talkes about introducing ditches:
"If the horse cannot make this decision [to jump the ditch] the meantime, the rider mst be carefl that the animal does not trn away or step back. If necessary, thehorse should stand still for 5-10 mintes or even longer in front of the ditch. Shoulds the horse get to the verge of jumping, bt then decline, it should be patted a few times and allowed to come to a fresh decision."

Emphasis added, but a definite echo of the title of the book!

He also talks about ways to develop feel for distances and the like as well as how to learn to feel for varying speeds. He has charts describing how speed affects the horse's stride length and how that stride is affected after a jump. Minimum speed for the size of an obstacle and more and more charts.

There are descriptions of sensations for both good and bad jumps, how to improve certain mistakes, and also the importance of the horse being able to take care of itself over an obstacle.

The really technical stuff is where he discusses take-off and landing distances and sets up calculations as to how determine them along with more equations to help one determine how to handle oddly distanced combinations (as the horse to jump long in so you can fit the proper striding in to the next jump because a reglar take-off would put you too close to the next jump and other puzzles like that).

I admit to glossing over some of the more technical stuff. I imagine if I were more into jumping I would be more fascinated and attempting to understand his calculations more and figuring out how to practically apply it.

He ends the section talking about terrain jumps (ditches, banks, water) in detail and briefly talks about high and long jump contests.

Two more sections remain: Cross-Country and Show Jumping, which I will probably review together because they are just barely 100 pages combined.

I have been enjoying Mr. D'Endrödy's work, but I am looking forward to reading something else a little lighter! I've been working on this poor book for almost two years I think and I am ready to be done reading it and start feeling like I am making progress through my library again!
lantairvlea: (Kash)
I was able to put in a second ride on both Chewy, Kash, and Kitt and rode Bud in them as well this week.

Here are my overarching observations that one might consider with these bits:

This is not a bit you let the horse just "hang out" in. Some might be okay, but most will start playing with it to some extent and will end up dropping it given enough time. I discovered this as I had to get on and off resetting poles as students knocked them over. No problem if you have a headstall, which is an option with these as well, but just as the jaw bit you don't want to leave them alone with it too long.

It's also not good for grass snatchers and drinking (having to swallow and move feed around makes them push the bit down because it doesn't have anything holding it up). It is also not good for leading unless your horse is SUPER light. I didn't push trying to lead with it because I knew the mechanics of it were non-condusive. If you need to lead a horse either leave the halter on or wait to put on the bit until right before you mount up.

On to the working thoughts: I have been able to use them with four horses at this point, Chewy the Haflinger, Kash the Arab, Kitt the Fjord, and my client's Haflinger, Bud. Chewy was the initial driver since she as the facial nerve that misfires. I know it is the trigeminal nerve and not the caudal, but I figured it was worth the shot at least. She still had some head shaking so that theory is out. She does wear a nose net on her usual bridle, which does help so I'll either need to put on a cavesson with it or put one on her halter. She was pretty good in it, though might have been slightly offended as she hasn't worn a bit in almost a year! There was a good amount of mouthing the first wearing and she dropped it a couple times (see above!). She didn't feel too different from her bitless and I would have to pull out her bitted bridle to see if there is any difference there (takes a double-jointed eggbutt with copper lozenge). The second time she was less mouthy and I was able to trot and bend and turn a bit more. She was wanting to fall in on the turns to the left, but that's more her than anything on her face or in her mouth.

A rare picture of the little mare. Biggest eyes I've ever seen on a horse of any size.

For Kash the first thing I noticed was how QUIET he was in his mouth compared to every other bit I have tried on him (and over 12+ years I have tried a lot of bits!). Yes he played with it a little to start, but he wasn't constantly jawing is as he is wont to do when not actively engaged in anything else (he goes pretty quiet when his brain is engaged). I got two rides in it with him thusfar and I'm pretty pleased with how he felt in it. He was off for other unrelated reasons (stepped on himself and biffed it a couple weeks ago and is still just a little sore), but so far as bit function goes he felt really good in it and it was so nice not hearing "Ka-clack, Ka-clack" and he chewed on his bit. I think it's also pretty hard for them to suck it up into their molars (no scratches, yay!) because of the snugness and the fact that the jaw gets wider towards the molars. Kash also neck reined beautifully with it and he was lovely and soft in it. He's not a very stiff horse in general and tends towards bending too much, but I think he was more responsive because he wasn't so distracted with trying to chew on it as he is with his conventional bits.

The first time with Kitt she played with it a moment, but then was pretty quiet until she got a bit of grass in her mouth to chew on and had a hard time figuring out how to work around it. I didn't do much hard work either ride with Kitt so it's still in the "wait and see" column. I did note she fussed with it a little more the second time, but I did leave her alone with it too. When I picked her up into a trot she responded pretty well with it. She did want to drop her head a bit more, not quite rooting, but not quite an honest stretch either. It'll help if I get the time to put in a "real" ride on her. We worked turn on the haunches and forehand today, which was good and she bent pretty readily.

I wonder with my three if any of the initial weirdness is due to them not working bitted at all for almost a year. I imagine there would have been a more notable difference going from a metal bit to the the biotbane jaw bit and less of an offended "why are you putting things in my mouth?!"

Bud went okay in it, but I think I had some other things going on with him too.

I thought he might be a little lame in his turnout so I took him out to the road where I would have a flat, straight surface that would tell me clearer. The neighbors down the road had some workers in their yard and a big stack of pallets that he was giving The Eye. He bowed out terribly and was sticky going forward and since I didn't have the whip I had to kick, which he was pretty dead to and was pretty exasperating. Once past it and turned around he power-trotted towards home dead-even. I was able to back him off pretty well with the bit and tried getting him the other way again with marginally more success. He wanted to rush home again and I finally picked up the whip and threw on my vest (I like having my vrst when riding on the road). The whip seemed to help since I wasn't throwing us off balance kicking him. He might have been a little less responsive than his usual low-port Kimberwick, but it can be hard to tell with him if you don't ride him in two bits side by side. Considering I had to work him past a super scary pile of pallets and didn't have the whip like I usually do he did very well! He came back from his power trot home well enough so that was the important part.

I think the Stark Naked Bit is an interesting option to have. It seems that no one is objecting horribly to it (yet). My horses who haven't had bits for close to a year were more skeptical than Bud who works in a bit all the time, but they all seemed to settle fairly quick so long as they don't have something else in their mouth or are left alone to play with it. I like that it molds easily around the tongue and while the stitches provide some texture there are no points, nubs, or joints creating possible pinch points or poking into the roof of the mouth. It also has a softer feel on the skin than any metal bit could, especially thinking about how this might feel on the bars of the mouth compared to metal.

The construction was nice with sturdy stitching. I also liked that they gave you options for strap width as well as ring diameter for a customized feel for both horse and rider. I went with the 3/4" strapping because I thought that the 1" might be a little too wide and isn't comparable to any bits I've ever used with my crew. They also offer a 1/2" which was narrower than I was wanting for my group.

I plan on continuing to try them now and again and hopefully get more of a ride in on them, but as most of the rides have been while I'm teaching there does end up being a lot of standing and observing than actively riding the horse.
lantairvlea: (Kash)
Our handsome model.

The green was a little lighter than expected, but that's okay.

I tried the Stark Naked Bit on Kash this morning. I have the time to write about it because we loaded up all of the things we needed to take to the dump after and it's a fair jaunt plus wait time. Our property looks so much nicer without the busted palettes, tarps, and various other bits of debris that accumulates over 10+ years.

Anyway, I played with Kash for two reasons, trying out the bit and also seeing how he was moving. He biffed it two weeks ago Saturday. I think he stepped on his front shoe and just nose-dived. The shoe seemed fine, but he didn't want to weight his left fore when he got up. We ended the lesson there. He moved better as we walked back, but still had a head bob so he got cold hosed and a gram of bute. He had the week off and was moving really well on his own and I put a short ride on him Friday, but I just walked him. Saturday (last week) he was moving great under Susanne in all gaits and did a little jumping. He did well Monday and Tuesday as well, but Wednesday under Roxanne he had a head bob. Not bad trotting right, but definitely there to the left so we traded out for Kitt. I rode him Friday and he felt good to the right, but had a little weirdness left, not bad on a big turn, but definitely there on a hard one so I didn't use him Monday and tried him this morning to see where he was. Walk was 100% and trotting right was good. Trot left was okay, but again the sharper turns he started short-striding and wanted to sputter out. When he initially tweaked himself there was no swelling whatsoever down low and I suspect he did something up in his shoulder and neck. He's sound without a rider (I admit I haven't specifically lunged him the last couple days, but cruising the turnout himself and goofing with the other horses he looks great), which is good and I haven't given him any medication since the first day. I have Kristin scheduled to come out next week and work on him as well as Chewy and Kitt. In the meantime I'll probably lunge him to see for sure where he is without a rider and maybe run my hands over to see if I can feel a sore spot. I had done so on Friday, but the spot I thought might have a sore reaction turned out be itchy and he was assuming the "scratch my neck there" position and got lip-wriggles as I rubbed harder.

What I don't want to do is Bute him so he goes sound and injure something worse. I'd rather have him tell me he's off and let him be than mask it.

So back to the bit!

Kash was less offended at having something in his mouth than Chewy was. Granted he's a mouthy creature to begin with so the trick is usually keeping things OUT of his mouth. He took it well and while he did roll it around and try to chew on it that is nothing different than any other bit he has ever had. I did find he got quiet in his mouth MUCH quicker than any other bit I have ever had him in (and I have tried a LOT of bits on him over the last 12 years!). He was nicely responsive to it and held it well. I could see riding him in it more and enjoying how he goes in it. Usually he doesn't stop jawing his bit until you get him working and thinking pretty hard so having him play with it a minute or two and then go quiet was very nice. Added bonus when he did mouth it there was just chewing noises and not the clacking and jangling of a metal bit.

Overall I was much happier with how Kash did over Chewy, but I was also not getting on and off fixing poles as I was with Chewy yesterday so there was no issue with it falling out. He did work it down as I was trying to get pictures of him, but it didn't fall off. It might also help that he has more incisor left than Chewy does at this point or maybe I just had it adjusted right the first time. It was easy to put back in place, just compress the rings together to arch the bit in the mouth so the tongue can slide back under. The instructions that come with it noted some horses might prefer the bit under the tongue versus over the tongue. If it is cold the biothane is fairly rigid, but it does flex easier as it warms up and shapes around the tongue fairly nicely and since it is a solid strap there are no ridges or links to pinch or catch the tongue or lips. The stitching does add a little texture to it, but I don't think it is sufficient to cause issue unless you're sawing at the horse's jaw constantly and hard? which is something the makers strongly discourage.

I saw a post with a person claiming these bits were a "torture device" because there is no release. The argument is that the jaw strap gets cinched down and compresses the tongue and jaw without relief. Certainly you could tighten it that way, but I feel like the one finger fitting under the jaw the makers recommend gives enough space for release and since it arches up it gives way more tongue comfort than any straight bar bit. Added to that engaging the reins loosens the jaw strap unlike on a curb bit. Of course if you want to talk about the torture of things that don't release you have the saddle that gets cinched down pretty tight, the weight of your butt on the horse's back and the rest of the bridle sitting on the horse's head so I don't get the torture device view.

And another thing I liked was that Sir Chews A Lot didn't put a mark on it. I think where it sits and the fit keeps him from being able to suck it all the way back into his molars for chewing.
Less-than photogenic )
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
It only took me a year to get this far... the good news is that I am now halfway through this book!

Part two: The Methods of Communication with the Horse is much more substantial than part one: Fundamental Objects of Riding. It is almost two hundred pages compared to part one's 94. I do have to say that I will need to re-read this book in-depth sometime. Mr. D'Endrödy constantly points to other sections of the book (see page 74, etc.) to help tie it all together and create a complete picture. This is slightly frustrating if you are shorter on time and are just trying to get through it, but for a more leisurely read flipping back and forth allows one to be sure that any given passage is read in full context.

Gems from this section include "the horse...will respond as it has been taught to the actual actions of the rider." Which is so true. He goes on to talk about the horse "disobeying" because it is merely responding to the rider's unconscious actions. It's passages like these that explain why the book is so titled!

He emphasizes that any action the rider takes must be followed by complete relaxation of the engaged muscles, even before the horse has responded to the aid. There is no holding the aid or holding the pressure, it is a matter of asking the horse and then allowing the horse to do it. This is something that I often repeat and explain to my students as our natural tendency is to hold and try to force something to happen. He also notes that the horse most often responds during the yielding phase of the aid and states plainly that the greater the applied pressure (especially retarding aids), the quicker and more substantial the yielding phase has to be.

He goes into pretty extreme detail about everything. He talks about the canter and notes that the horse "will never hesitate in it's choice (of lead), but will always select for its action the direction which best suits the general position of it's body" and continues "Thus the principle 'aid' ... is to create the proper position." He also notes that "the horse must be struck off into the canter, and not driven into it!"

His diagrams can be initially confusing, but over time you get used to his visual language. Along with all of the theory he does give exercises and thorough descriptions on how to counteract almost any conceivable reaction from the horse. He talks about turn on the forehand, haunches, and also turn on the center in detail with their benefits and purposes.

He notes that collection is always a process and should be done gradually each time it is asked for from the horse. He notes that the hocks much be driven towards the mouth, and not the mouth pulled back to the hocks. The passage that caused me to exclaim excitedly was "the retardment should be performed with a particular feeling as if the effect of the reins does not stop at the horse's mouth, but is transmitted through the rider's arms, shoulders, hips, the back of the animal." This is something I have been telling my students for years, but had not yet really seen it in print.

The illustration plates were pretty good, especially considering it had been initially published in 1959! Interesting to see how riding has both changed and not. Particularly interesting are some of the jumps and other obstacles that used to be asked in eventing, but aren't really seen anymore, specifically a very, very steep embankment one horse is pretty much sliding down.

I think my only quibble is his section on 'Conquering" the Horse. I can see the purpose, but at the same time the idea of picking a bit of a "fight" with the horse and drilling it into submission is not so much to my taste. He does note it is something to be done every four to six months and only by very experienced and good-tempered riders and I guess if I really think about it I do push buttons like that on occasion.

Now on to Part Three, which concerns jumping!
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
The sidepull noseband arrived for the Running Bear Smart Bridle I ordered last month. They had flubbed the order and forgotten the rings on the noseband when they initially shipped it so I sent just the nose piece back because the rest of it fit beautifully.

I love that it can convert to a halter, bridle (both bitted and bitless), and has independent bit hangers if desired. It is crazy-adjustable. The crown piece has buckles, the browband adjusts (and can be removed), the cheeks obviously adjust, the noseband has buckles on both sides, throatlatch, and even the strap that connects the noseband to the throatlatch has adjustability. It is awesome. When you order you also have an insane amount of color choices both for the main piece and the padding/underlay.

The sidepull noseband does have extra padding on it compared to the plain one they initially sent me that I think is a bit excessive. I would have been happy without the extra neoprene. I had gotten used to the Moss Rock Evolution bridle that sits lower on the cheek. I need to adjust the crown and see what I can manage there.

I went with Running Bear instead of Moss Rock this time for two reasons. The shallow one being that Moss Rock doesn't have hunter green anymore, the other one being my curiosity about the quality of Running Bear's stuff and whether I could use their sidepull as a cross-under bridle with Moss Rock's rein design.

The quality of the Running Bear bridle is definitely high. Moss Rock is good and servicable and the price for what you get can't be beat (paid more for just the Smart Bridle than I did the Moss Rock one, which included the reins). Running Bear doesn't disappoint, though. There is padding on the crown, browband, and all around the nose. They add neoprene for the sidepull, which as noted before I think is a bit excessive, but okay. It feels very sturdy in hand too. I think it will take a little time to really mold to Kash's face as the material is a bit stiff with how thick they make it. It definitely holds its shape!

What I was most happy about was the fact that the Moss Rock reins fit through the rings and snapped on the ring the throatlatch, crown, and browband all connect to. That was pretty much the purpose of getting it actually.

Kash worked well in it this evening, though I didn't try anything too exciting with it. I'd like to take him to the property and see how he does over there with it.

I do think once I get a couple other things squared away I will be contacting Lisa at Moss Rock for another set of reins for Kash (I borrowed Charm-n's) and asking her about possibly making some long lines as I have thoughts about starting Tru-D in the cross-under bridle and I don't really want to introduce the bit for another couple years and my lungeing cavesson isn't set up well to long line from (tried with Z, needs to have rings that stick out sideways more) on top of wanting the extra control/finesse over a plain sidepull (and the stability, sidepulls tend to migrate sideways across the face).

Kash didn't cooperate for a side view. He kept staring at me.

Yep, that's my boy.

lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I initially was looking at bitless bridles for two reasons. One: I have a lot of beginner students who are still developing independent seats and do not always have the best hands to begin with. Two: I wanted another thing to try on Sunny because she seemed to not like the Dr. Cooks cross-under style bridle that Marty had purchased for her and Cinnamon and Marty didn't really want to use the bosal because she can never figure out what to do with the leading rein on the Macate.

I have since realized that Sunny's issue doesn't really stem from her headgear, but from a general lack of work, but the first one still rings true. Sunny's thing came to surface while I was working her in the sidepull I had acquired from Moss Rock Endurance and she was being irritable and finally threw a buck and I growled at her and made her continue to work and she had a complete attitude shift when she realized that being opinionated didn't get her out of work. I have since been working her in the Dr. Cook's with no issue outside of her not wanting to take any input from me about how she should be doing the things I ask her to do.

Anyway! Back to the original point. I initially ordered two bridles from Moss Rock Endurance. They were the sidepull and the Evolution Bitless bridle. What really drew me in was how she did the reins on her two models of cross-under bitless bridles (also called cross-over).


Panda is very photogenic and is modeling the Evolution. Moss Rock had the Evolution and also the Freedom bridles. The differences between the two include the browband being connected straight to the ring on the Freedom along with the lack of connection between the throatlatch and noseband. It still has a ring on the noseband so you can hook a lead to it, but I imagine it doesn't function as much like a halter as the Evolution does.

The Evolution was only $5 more than the Freedom and since I preferred the lower angle on the cheek straps allowed by the longer crown piece and the better halter/bridle combination I went for it.

She makes them out of Beta, which is essentially a rubbery plastic coated nylon. The stitching seems good and sturdy and while it isn't extra padded or doubled back in areas as some variants are, but that is probably where some of the savings comes in too as the cost includes the reins where pretty much every other crossunder bridle does not.

Those who are familiar with the original Dr. Cooks bitless bridle as well as the Nutural and other spin-offs know about the rein rings. The jaw straps typically buckle to the headstall and terminate in a ring that your normal reins attach to. I have found this design to feel a bit clunky in the hand, especially if the cross under straps were longer and you had the weight of the ring plus the rein buckle (snaps or whatever else) further away from the horse's face. As mentioned earlier the thing that stuck out to me with Moss Rock's design was how the rein attaches. The ring that the cheek, crown, and throatlatch attach to also provides the attachment point for the reins. You have one piece that goes through the nose ring, under the jaw, and snaps on to the crown/temple ring. She does use a thinner strap (I think 1/2") under the jaw and stitches in to a thicker piece (close to 3/4" I think) that goes to the hands, but there is minimal weight added and the feel is seamless. Because of this attachment you can disconnect the reins and have a complete look without dangly cheek straps that have nowhere to go.

As you can see that with Kitt here as she wears her new one without the reins attached. It is also worth noting that it is set up to potentially take a bit as well if you want so it is a sort of combination bitless/regular/sidepull/halter bridle.

I have really liked how the horses have gone in them thusfar. Kitt is much more forgiving of student mistakes in the bitless over her usual bitted bridle. Charm-N has been funny with it. The last two lessons she started out in her normal bitted bridle and as the student struggled with her halt I was curious and swapped her out and presto! Insta-halt!

Charm-N is happy bitless.


I have played with the sidepull a little bit, mostly on Sunny and a little on Charm-N. Charm-N worked pretty much as well in the sidepull and it also allowed me to digure out Sunny wasn't having issues with things on her face, just work ethic in general.


Charm-N sporting the sidepull above.

I was so happy with the way Charm-N and Kitt worked specifically that I went ahead and ordered two more. The purple one for Kitt and a blue one sized for Kash and Chewy (the first one was sized for Kitt, Ruby and Charm-N). So Kitt has her own, Charm-N and Ruby get to share as Chewy and Kash will. Chewy goes well in it, though she can get stuck in her backing cues. I haven't had the chance to try Kash in it yet, but I am curious to see how it affects his response to the rein aids.

The one downside was the wait time. She makes them all herself and had hand surgery in October or November and it has affected her rate of work. Even then it was just over a month turnaround and this second round ahe actually refunded the shipping costs, which was awesome of her.

She does do custom orders at no additional cost, even for big draft heads you just can't return them. The last two I ordered I had her put conways on the end of the reins so I can play with different snap options. I am not 100% sold on scissor snaps so it will be some experimentation on my part.

She was also great to communicate with when I had questions. Her flexibility also makes Moss Rock's products stand out as she offers hardware, strap thickness, rein length and even the rein rings if you want them.

So the short summary is: Good quality for the price, excellent customer service, and I would highly recommend Moss Rock Endurance and its products.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Chris and I went and watched the latest Transformers movie as part of his extended birthday weekend. It would have been shorter had they not had a bunch of slow-motion action sequences.

I think strength of plot in this group is inversely related to the amount of stuff that gets blown up. This one was pretty heavy on the explosions. As with the other sequals its plot contradicts previous established history in the transformers universe because we have to rewrite history in order to make the current plot more interesting. You can only go back in the past so much and still have your plot seem remotely feasible. Of course the second movie contradicted things terribly and the third was much the same so we shouldn't be surprised at this point.

I am usually pretty good at turning off my brain and enjoying the ride, but it was difficult to do here. I admit it would be fun to watch with a bunch of cynical friends, but not worth the box office cash unless you really like watching things blow up on the big screen.

spoiler bits )
And I don't feel like spending the energy to ramble more about it.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Originally published in 1959 this book is a hefty tome. Lt. Col. A. L. D'Endrödy divides the book into five sections and I feel that I must do the same in order to give the book any service for I am certain that by the time I reach the end of it I will have forgotten much of the beginning. It is over five hundred pages long with an extensive index, diagrams, and 20 pages worth of photos with commentary. I have just finished the first part and will share my thoughts about it.

Part one is "The Fundamental Objects of Riding" and is very thorough in its treatment of the subject. You will want to read this with highlighter or pen in hand to mark and note all of the interesting and relavent points.

"Natural" horsemanship is certainly not a new phenomenon. Some people would have you believe it is only in the past 20-30 years that truely enlightened horsemen have revealed to us the inner workings of the horse's mind or known how to treat the animal with kindness, understanding, or in a language it responds best to, but it really has been the foundation of good horsemanship throughout the centries from Xenophon to the present day.

Gems such as "Before blaming the horse, the rider should make a careful check on himself, since 90 per cent. of the opposition may rise from his own mistakes." As well as notes that punishment is justified only when the rider "is convinced of the animal's malice" and not to be used when it simply does not understand and, echoing Xenophon, not to be used when one is angry or frustrated suggesting that the rider whistle or smile to check himself so that the punishment is without heated emotion.

"Good riding starts... when the rider can properly influence the horse...knows how to aid it in overcoming to overcome its opposition in a constructive manner." And "'Tricks' have no place in the art of riding, since in moments of crisis, when effective action is most needed, the superficial 'trick' never succeeds."

He emphasises the most thorough education of the rider, noting that the "elementary" schooling of a rider takes one to one and a half years of daily schooling. I think this helps to explain to students who only come to weekly lessons why it takes years to get a good base instead of a few months. Good riding takes time, a lot of time, even at the basic level! He notes the education of the horse is much the same, about a year and a half, sometimes less, but only under the hands of the best horseman and only if the horse is exceptionally athletic and fully developed physically. He does caution that a lot of it has to do with building the physical strength necessary to perform the tasks and that can not be rushed on any account.

He gives an interesting series of exercises to help one develop their hands, one of which being writing with a pencil that has a very long point (without breaking it of course). The book also cross-references itself all over, which means a straight read-through might not be the best manner of course as one seeks further depth of the current subject by reading up on another just mentioned.

He thoroughly explores the horse's gaits, noting that the walk has "very little natural swing in the pace makes instruction difficult for the rider, and enables the horse to resist easily" which rings very true. Of the trot he notes "by its simple grouping of movements, and by its natural balance and swing, facilitates the teaching work of the rider and the learning of the horse. Therefore, this is the pace which plays the main role in the horse's schooling."

After the gaits of the horse he moves on to the rider's aids, from leg to seat and reins. Also with many diagrams showing how pressure is applied, the strength thereof, and its most appropriate application. He states that the yielding phase of any aid is just as, if not more important than the taking or asking phase, for it is in this stage of the aid that the horse performs the action, or is allowed to perform the action. If one has unyielding aids the horse becomes incapable of executing the desired action as there is no space to do it in.

He goes over the "leveling function" of the aids in great detail, which I strongly suspect refers to the "half-halt" as most now call it as he puts it leveling "has an exceptional aiding quality, by smoothing and polishing both the activities of the rider and the horse."

All in all I think it is an excellent read thusfar. It is very dense and at the start I found myself re-reading passages to be sure I had them properly in my mind. It is not a book I would recommend to my young students as I fear it would be a bit over their heads, however it is packed with information that is presented in a very thorough, detailed manner. I also note that reading it appears to have affected my writing as I sense a more contemplative, verbose and formal expression than usual. I look forward to reading the rest of it and seeing how many more passages I end up highlighting before the end of it!

I have started part two "The Methods of Communication with the Horse" and will share my thoughts on that when I have finished it.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
I ended up reading all three copies I have of Xenophon's "On Horsemanship" also referred to as "The Art of Horsemanship," because it was a rather short read and with time sitting nursing my reading has gone way up (not complaining!).

It was nothing earth-shattering, but the fact that it is over 2,000 years old is still astonishing. There was one little passage where the translators seemed to think Xenophon was confused in his anatomy describing a certain ailment of the legs that I think is splints, but who am I to argue with translators.

He had a lot of good, sensible points and it is interesting to see how little things have changed in respect to good horsemanship and how much other things have. For onewhe doesn't recommend buying any horse older than five and suggests a hoof with a high, recessed frog.

The copy translated by Morris H. Morgan has many Xenophon contemporary illustrations to give one a better idea about some of the things Xenophon described. He also has a bit of history on Xenophon and things about the horses of his time. It was the thickest volume of the three.

The translation by A. Nyland included snippets from Xenophon's contemporaries as well as some of Xenophon's other works complimenting the Horsemanship text, one of which had some interesting side note about mules occasionally being fertile.

The third one didn't list the translator and was simply what Xenophon wrote.

"Horse Training In-Hand" by Ellen Schuthof-Lesmeister and Kip Mistral is a nice treat. It covers lungeing, double lungeing, ground driving, and work with both short and long reins (in that order even). It was very step-by-step and laid down a wonderful foundation to build all the lateral movements as well as the piaffe.

It has wonderful photographs and is well-written. The "tools you need" section got a bit redundant, but that is a minor thing. There are definitely things I plan on playing with on Z and the others as well when I have time ... hahaha. I need to make time for these things.

Next up "Give Your Horse a Chance" by Lt. Col. A. L. D'Endrody. His work is quite lengthy and will take a bit longer to sort through. I picked it up several years ago at a second-hand book store and am excited to finally read it.
lantairvlea: (lantair look)
Yep, 10 DVDs in and it is still just Julie Goodnight. So much for "Industry Professionals."

It is good information and I like having them in my library. I also find it amusing that some of the sessions have been filmed at Horse Shoe Park, which is just down the road from me.

The pluses have included noting that a broken mouthpiece does not a snaffle make, position fixes over fences and on the flat, the downside of disengaging the hindquarters, behavior under saddle (namely the horse shouldn't socialize when he is working), and more that I can't recall of the top of my head.

There are a couple things that I have found annoying.

She does a lot of bit changing. Now I don't argue that the horses went better after the changes, however it comes across as a bit of an advertisement for Myler, because all of the bits are Myler bits she changes them to, and gives the impression in some instances that the bit was the only issue and is a magic fix.

Flagging the horse to keep it from balking, whether asking to go in a trailer or leading to, through, or in anywhere else. There were a couple moments in both instances she used it that it could have gone badly. And I could see someone less skilled handling the horse or flag (Ms. Goodnight was the flagger) getting into trouble with it and possibly causing the horse to balk more. Plus it requires two people, which isn't always available.

The fact that it professes giving you industry professionals (plural!) and we've only seen one thusfar. O, there was the Myler bit guy that made an appearance in one of them, but I don't think that really counts.

I may just take the $28 I've been spending on them and treat myself to other training DVDs with subjects to my definite liking rather than a random grab bag (not that I haven't enjoyed the random grab bag).

I've been hanging on the idea that they were going to be displaying more than a single trainer's perspective, but this far in it doesn't appear to be happening. I am a little disappointed.
lantairvlea: (bastek kunst)
I finished the two aforementioned books last night. I feel so accomplished! I have tragically been picking my way through "Centered Riding 2" for the last year or so and the other I started last week. I read voraciously given the opportunity.

Centered Riding 2 was just as good as Sally Swift's first book. I like and use a lot of b her imagery to help my students, but struggle with how to integrate some of her work on the ground. While I know some of these things would help my students I worry about how to fit it in. Part of me says these are riding lessons. My students expect to RIDE, but the other part knows that some of these exercises could really help in expediting learning. I guess the part that I am most backed off about is that some of the techniques are literally "hands on" and as such there's the whole impropriety thing (and I'm big on personal space and generally not keen on getting into anothers'). Ms. Swift had some advantage in being a rather non-threatening elderly lady.

Anyway it's a book I recommend and need to go through again myself and glean some choice exercises and roll them into my teaching.

Mr. Belasik's book was a pretty good read. I found myself highlighting a lot of his insights. He addresses the "Classical versus Modern/competition Dressage" issue that Gerd Heuschmann and others have brought up the last decade. He doesn't really mention hyperflexion specifically, but he does explore how proper collection works both in theory and practice and postulates how not eliminating the airs (levade specifically) has allowed for competitive dressage horses to avoid true collection.

It is written in a somewhat meandering, literary way, a sharp contrast from Heuschmann's hard scientific writing, but still inaightful and perhaps easier to read for some.

Next up: "The Art of Horsemanship" by Xenophon because my equestrian education can't be complete without reading a 2400 year old volume. I have several different copies of it now (went a little crazy when I ordered books to reference for my last horsemanship class...) so I don't know if I'll end up reading and comparing all of them or just devour the one that I happpened to pull off the shelf first.

Any must-read recommendations after Xenophon?


lantairvlea: (Default)

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