Bitting Issues.  2017 Part One 

March 22, 2017

Going back about 6 years when I first brought Simon home, in love with my new pony, i had no idea what bitting trials I would go through with the beast.  He had been ridden in a Tom Thumb, which is what I tried him in.  He was ok.  I didn’t mess with his mouth much and was riding him along a road surrounded by ice in the Ohio mountains along the West Virginia boarder.  Not exactly ideal conditions.  Plus he was four years old, coming five with not much more than trail time under saddle although he had driving experience.  

I got home and began the bit trials.  I started with an egg butt.  Nope.  I tried happy mouths, Mullen mouths, jointed, French link, three rings and even Mullen happy three rings.  Nope nope and nope. 

He just did not like tongue and bar pressure.  

I settled with a three ring (and I honestly do not remember what the mouth piece was) as the leverage seemed to help.  I had a running martingale and a flash on him to make it at all functional.  I hated it. He hated it.  I was forcing him to accept something that very clearly made him uncomfortable.  

I was at a competition complaining about his stupid mouth and that I was out of ideas when a friend, Zoe, said hey, I have a Myler combination bit and it sounds like it will work for you.  It works on nose and pole pressure before tongue and bad pressure and the mouth piece is joined in a way so there is no “nutcracker” action.  So I shoved this supposed miracle bit on his face and climbed on.  

It was instant success.  He relaxed, dropped his head and I hardly had to touch his face for a response.  Happy pony, happy rider, I ordered this expensive piece of magic as soon as I got home.  

About a year later, his steering perfected, I moved him into a Little S hackamore and he has been one happy pony since.   I throw him back into the Myler combination bit on occasion when I don’t feel he is as responsive as I like, but generally we go about in his little blue hack and he is a dream.  

Flash forward to this spring.  I signed up to do a horsemanship trail challenge for this coming Saturday.  I am all excited and working on our flying change and dragging the dang log around (which is still proving to be the scariest part for this former driving pony).  On Monday I got an email with my ride time and the general info and rules.  I read through it all and realized that I can’t use his hackamore (no mechanical hackamores) and I cannot ride in my combination bit unless I choose to ride with one hand and not switch hands throughout the course.  (No shanked bits u less you ride one handed).  Well shucks, Simon neck reins just fine, but I am not skilled enough to do all this one handed (and not switch hands!). 

So I tried him in an egg butt on Tuesday.  It sucked.  I was on a trail ride so I wasn’t using much contact (or even holding my reins the whole time) but when I did touch his mouth he was so unhappy.  I needed to back up a few steps at one point and it was almost pointless trying. His tongue was out, his ears were back, and his head was twisted and in all the wrong directions.  

So I stopped at the amazing VTO on my way home. I took his Myler combination bit inside and one of the employees helped me pick out the closest possible bit without shanks.  I ended up with a level 2/3 loose ring.  Nearly the same mouth piece.  

Wednesday I tried the Myler loose ring.  And fail.   Simon bucked multiple times, ears pinned and tongue out.  He backed but it looked so sloppy.  He was unhappy and so was I.  I will say though it was better than he egg butt but still not a success. 

That night I took to Facebook and called on my horsey friends to help.  And my friends did not disappoint. So much amazing information and ideas were shared.  

I quick, Amazon Primed a jumping or hunter hackamore.  This is essentially a nose and with reins on the side.  Think riding in a fitted halter with a lead rope tied on. It comes tomorrow afternoon.  I have ridden Simon in one of these many years ago.  When I was ready to move him out of his Myler combination I borrowed one of these jumping hacks and an English mechanical hackamore from my friend Linda to try.  Simon liked the simple jumping hack but I get the English hack was a but better.  And in the end I ordered him the Little S that is his normal bit.  I am hoping to be able to ride him in it when it comes in the mail to see what I think.  

I was also offered to borrow my friend Dale’s Indian Hackamore. Unfortunately this particular hack is not allowed (no rope) for the even this weekend but I could see Simon liking it so I swung by his place and picked it up today and gave it a spin this evening.  

(Photo compliments of Dale) 

It has a mixed review.  I do think it is, at this point in the trials, the best option, although it’s not allowed.  But Simon was a little strong in it.  For walking and trotting we were good.  But when I had him pick up a canter he got a little excited and may have galloped away with me for a few strides.  He is super responsive to seat and legs so I tend to be very light with my hands with him but he still got me for a few strides.  Then he realized he could graze pretty easily and I started to feel like a little kid in need of grazing reins.  

I am going to ride in this again and I would like to take him on a trail ride with it.  And I actually wonder what Poe will think of it.

Also in retrospect I think I should try lowering it on his nose a little.  Looking at the photo above I think it might be a tad high.  

The Facebook post also got suggestions of the Dr Cook bitless bridle.  There were mixed reviews of these some people raving and some people less than impressed.   This morning I noticed a response in favor of these contraptions from Sam at the other semi local tack shop, Mad Tack.  Samantha has been super amazing and I totally value her opinions.  You may remember about two years ago I was having saddle fitting issues with Poe and she fitted him in a saddle and I love it and ride in it still.  She worked easily in my price range and was just amazing.  When I called to see what they had in stock she said, bring your pony here and we will get you sorted.  And she has been nothing short of amazing since then. 

So anyway, back to the topic, I called Samantha today and we talked and I am taking Simon in tomorrow to fit in him a bitless and give it a go.  Since they work on pole and nose pressure which I know he likes, it’s just if he is cool with the jaw pressure.   I am very hopeful that he will like this contraption and that it might be even more effective than his Little S.  

I’ll be reporting back with an update in part 2 soon!  

Product Review: Enell Sports Bra 

March 8, 2017 

When I went to the PA Horse World Expo last weekend my friend Chrissy and I found a bra vendor.  I assumed these bras were some new, up and coming, high impact bras.  I was half correct, they are high impact, but they are not a new brand.  The bra is Enell brand and is readily available.  

But just because it is not a new design doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth checking out.  So I had the sales rep, Meghan fit me and strapped one over my t-shirt.  I did a horseless sitting trot, some flag reaches, dunks, and some leans, and felt pretty comfortable.  

Chrissy and I laughed.  I bought one.

The next day I strapped in (this time under my shirt) and headed for practice to give the bra a test.  

Now before I go into full out review, let me give you some overly personal stats and background; I am a well endowed lady.  I hang around the 40dd range, a 3 in the Enell, and have experience in high impact bras.  My current top high impact serious bras are from Moving Comfort, and I also have an original and a Gen2 Shefit (“as seen on Sharktank”).  I consider these bras the only real high impact bras I have tried that are worth a damn. 

I have surpisingly high standards for high impact bras.  My ladies need to be held in place and not move around.  Easy.   Or not.  I am always taken back by how many other women with large ladies resort to wearing multiple layers of crap Champion brand spandex “sports bras”. Note the quotation marks around sports bras.   If you have to wear three of them at the same time and your boobs still nearly knock you out if you move too fast, the whole high impact thing becomes an alternative fact.   

Ok so now what did I think of the Enell sports bra?  I love it.  Unlike a lot of other bras, that are basically triangles with straps attached, the Enell is more of a vest.  The back is solid, with supportive criss crossy seams to help distribute the tension, no back boob, no side boob, no underarm boob, none of the boobs squishing out another end. Ugly but efficient and it works.  

Another massive bonus to this vest design, is the straps over the shoulder are super wide.   And the pressure is divided out all over the back.   Often a bra will give me shoulder aches, neck aches, back aches and even head aches from the strain of the shoulder straps.  Even really wide straps like many Moving Comfort and the Shefit brands have.  I did not have any strain or ache when wearing the Enell.  

The bra fastens up the front with hook and loop fixtures, and completely covers the ladies, no cleavage.  Remember I said, no top boob.  Although it’s easy to have a loop unhook as you do up the next and it takes like 5 seconds to fasten it up.  It is in the front, so you can at least see what you’re doing.  I do like a zipper and I think it would work with this design. Although, I have had issues with bras unzipping mid ride (hello Shefit original) – boom, boobs everywhere.  

This design means the fit is a lot less forgiving.  Which is also a common error by bra shoppers.  For high impact you need to make sure the under-boob-band fits snugly.  If it’s too loose it doesn’t mater how awesome the rest of it is, if it doesn’t fit properly, it won’t be able to do it’s job.  

One of the biggest bonuses to this bra, no under boob rubs.  Yeah.  Even a decent bra seems to leave me with underboob rubs after a long sweaty ride.  Now it is March, and I was not working up a summer time style sweat, but I do normally get some minor redness after these practice sessions.  In the Enell I did not. Complete score.  

I did the sitting trot test, you know, doing a sitting trot and seeing how much the girls bounce, and I ride a choppy pony!  There was some bounce but it was minimum.  although the Moving Comfort and Shefit score better on this test, not having the neck, back, should strain, head aches and underboob rubs was worth the small bounce.  I feel like maybe the shoulder could be a tiny bit shorter and it would help with the bounce.  I may try shortening them just a tad.  

End of ride – 4 1/2 stars = happy rider.  

I rode in it again on Tuesday, a lighter impact ride at home doing some flat work, no strain, no red, happy rider.  

And I am about to head out for a conditioning trail ride with it on.  

As of this moment I am sold on this bra 100% and will be buying another.  The $60-70 price point is affordable, especially for high impact, large chest bras.  Not exactly sexy, but boobs knocking you out sucks too. 

I will save your vision and my modesty and not include any self portraits in this post.  So here is a stock photo! 

Mad Tack Solved my Saddle Situation 

July 4, 2015

I have had Poe for two years now and have had continuous saddle fitting issues.  Luckily Poe is not picky and has not seemed to mind any of them.  But when your saddle rolls around your pony it can make it difficult to mount up, or lean effectively.  Both mounting and leaning are pretty important skills in mounted games.  

A few days ago I decided call Mad Tack in Madison, Virginia, where I heard they have a large selection of inexpensive used saddles.  I talked to Samantha on the phone and told her my saddle situation.  And sure enough. She raddled off a good selection of possible saddles that fit my criteria.  He suggested I bring Poe with me and we could try saddles to my heart’s (butt’s) content.  

I had Friday off for the Fourth of July so I loaded Poe up and off we went. 

Mad Tack was mad easy to find.  right in Madision just a quarter mile or so off rt29.  Samantha had me park ou back next to a grass area.  She took a look at Poe and then we went inside to select some saddles.  

We started off with four saddle and, putting each one on a naked Poe to see the fit. Samantha was knowledgeable and competent.  She commented on the fit in the front gullet area, thought the should, along the panels and back.  Taking note on length compared to Poe’s back and how level the seat sat.  

After looking at a few on his back we girthed up one and I climbed aboard.  Now my main issues is the saddle rolling when I go to climb on, so paying particular attention to that, I was instantly pleased to see that it did not move.  Score! I rode around and worked up some heat and a little light sweat and we pulled off the saddle. It was pleasingly even.  We sat that saddle, which I’ll refer to as saddle #1, on the “maybe” stand. 

The next saddle we girthed up and I climbed on, let’s call it saddle #2, was not as pleasing as saddle #1. 

We looked at the fit of a few more and then Samantha our saddle #3 on Poe’s back.  She liked the fit on him and so did I.  We girthed him up and I climbed on and it didn’t move.  My butt it the seat and my legs settled along the laps and off Poe and I went, trotting some circles, a short stop, some leaning, another mount, and I announces saddle #3 as the hands down winner!   

While I was there I dropped off two of the saddles I have that do not fit Poe for consignment. Oh, did I mention that the store has all kinds of stuff? Lots of used stuff, new stuff, great prices, simply awesome!  


Tack Area

May 14, 2015

After my ride last night I was putting tack away and snapped off a quick photo.  I think I need to tidy up a bit more.


Product Review: Spiral Ethological Halter and Matching Leadrope

April 17, 2015

At the Virginia Horse Festival my eye caught on a rope halter with attached lead.  I like a rope halter for wearing under a bridle on trail rides, and grabbing a pony out of the field at home.  Since I have ponies that are already responsive and quiet to lead I like the thicker soft rope halters.  They just feel good in the hand.

I saw this halter hanging up at a vendors stand. Primarily a darker gray rope, with a small amount of pink on the nose and top of the lead to bright it up, it stood out.  They had a few other colors.  Black with some yellow, red and blue, but this one just struck me.  $16, what they heck, I made the purchase.

Since then I have used it a few times.  Once on a trail ride, and a few times to move ponies from field to field.

Last night I was moving ponies from field to field with it, and was moving Spike, the last of my three gelding herd, while opening the gate to deposit him he turned his head to look the other way.  The slight tug on the lead was hardly noticeable until it abruptly ended, with the lead in my hand and my pony unattached.  My husband’s dog choose that moment to zoom by at top speed and the pony, realizing he was free, took off after the dog.

This avalanched into Spike escalading across several hay and corn fields, across the road, and ended with him at the trotting along the neighbor’s horse fields making new friends.  I grabbed up a fresh lead and  went after him, adrenaline kicking as I imagined him running in front of a car on the road or getting a leg in the cattle guard.  He cantered up to me when I got close to him, and we walked him pleasantly with a happy ending.

Upon closer look the lead appears to just have been taped on and then wrapped lightly in the pink and gray thread.  This is certainly nothing that should be considered safe for equestrian use.  While the halter seems well made and sturdy, the lead is attached with no integrity!  The potential for this lead to pop off was extremely high and I was lucky I was at home and all ended well.

I spent a while today trying to find the company who puts out this particular halter and lead and have been unsuccessful. I found the same one on Amazon and on Ebay, but no manufacturer listed, just smaller vendors.  It is listed as a Spiral Ethological Halter and Matching Leadrope.

Buyer beware.

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