Monday, April 8, 2013

Things That Annoy Me:

I've been looking into "cowboy challenges" for Jingle and I, because I think that's the direction we're both going, and enjoying at the same time - together for once!


taken from the Canadian Cowboy Challenge rulebook

It is so freakin' frustrating that a majority of shows (NOT just these types of challenges) don't allow bitless bridles or sidepulls.
It looks like Extreme Cowboy Challenges allow bitless/sidepull options, but there's only two in Canada per year.
However, both will accept Hackamores...

Looks like I should probably invest in a hackamore soon... ugh, money I don't have.

Still - what if my horse likes a sidepull more than a hackamore, what's the harm in letting us come play on the swings with all the other kids at the playground?


  1. I'm dealing with the same issues, they don't allow snaffles either except in the jr classes, and we are still in the training stages so a snaffle is what we have been using. I finally broke down and bought a Mylar knock off with a short shank on it, it covers the whole "must be ridden in a bit" issue but gives me the separate control that I need for training. It pivots on the sides and in the middle over the tongue with a little bit of tongue relief.

    Personally I am more impressed with a horse that can compete in a bosel or a halter and still perform all the tasks, than a horse that has to have its mouth yanked on.

    1. When I ride horses in shanks I always prefer something that has some pivot and movement, I think only the most finished of horses can truly carry those solid mouth-piece bits. It always helps to have a little movement when you need it. The Mylars are nice bits too (fricken expensive though, I can see why you went for a knock off).

      I agree, I know they take points off for horses not being smooth and willing, but it's still annoying that some people can go back to their barns, and instead of working on slow stuff, yank on their horses faces to get the job done. Then there's me... logging hours in at the walk haha.

      What can ya do... I guess we can both find compromises, still ruffles my feathers though!

  2. I hear you, when I wanted to do stuff with Razz had the same problem she hates a snaffle. But as I worked with her more, she does like a shanked bit with a very small curve in the mouthpiece, The hard thing about it is the training is so much easier in the snaffle, but I got her through it somehow and I think its nice to have a variety of mouthpieces that can be used. You keep looking, I am sure you will find somewhere you can go with the sidepull.

  3. Oh and forgot to say, don't forget these are "cowboy" challenges and they woulda never used a sidepull, maybe a bosal, but pretty much all wanted a one handed bit so they could use their other hand for roping or whatever.

    1. Yeah, I agree with you there - that it comes from the idea of one-handed riding, except I can easily ride Jingle one-handed in a sidepull. My thing is that all these new trail and obstacle "cowboy" type challenges have been springing up as a way for people to get involved with their horses in a different type of showing atmosphere, they say "all-breeds, all-types of riders welcome", and then still go back to that ancient "no snaffles, no bitless bridles" rule. haha

  4. I feel your pain on this one. Although these guys seem to be at least a bit progressive in that they seem to allow a snaffle to be used by a mature horse (really sucks Jingle isn't happy in one). Drives me crazy how most western show divisions insist on a curb just because the horse has reached a certain age. Like what does that have to do with anything? I had a little Arab mare that I competed huntseat with for years (in a snaffle) and in her later years really wanted to try western but just could not get her comfortable in a curb bit...long story short, no western for us! Now I need to get Dee into her show bridle (read fixed shank curb) by the end of May. Fortunately she's packed one before but I hate putting that much bit on a horse that's perfectly okey dokey in a snaffle (and even better bitless). I'm still waiting for the day they finally recognize bitless in dressage. There will be some happy horses that day.

    1. I agree.. it's like they are one step forward - progressive, two steps back - not progressive. It's exceptionally frustrating that we can't just let our horses go in what makes them comfortable. I have been well-schooled in the mentality of what it takes to make a "bridle horse" - the real horses that have to pack around those big show bridles and enjoy it, and are calm and soft while doing it, but I've also witnessed horses forced into those bits because that's what judges like to see, and what shows require... it's absurd!

      I know, they recently have changed some regulations with helmets (I heard helmets are now required in warm-up pens in FEI competition?) in dressage, so I feel as if dressage is inching closer to bitless, but that being said, high levels are still in double-bridles, so it is doubtful that bitless will come any day soon... but perhaps in the lower levels? one can wish.

      Ugh I know.. why can't Jingle just plod along happily in a snaffle, frustrating. to say the least.

  5. I agree bit restrictions/requirements are almost always ridiculous and ill-informed, but I venture to say that once you ride in a hackamore you might end up glad something pushed you in that direction. :)

    If you do decide to go that route, just beware of low-quality gear. A cheap bosal will fall apart while ripping your horse's nose to shreds in the process, and a limp mecate will seriously inhibit your ability to communicate. A well made hackamore isn't cheap, but it will literally last a lifetime.

    Also, congrats on the recent Jingle reports! It sounds like things are really coming together for you. Your hard work is paying off. Bravo.

    1. Haha, I want to try a hackamore, but two things are holding me back...

      1) Price. I don't buy cheap stuff. All of my tack is pretty much medium to high quality, but quality hackamores are in a snack bracket of their own - holy expensive batman! I did find one online that seems like a decent price... i should find the link and send it to you, but I worry about fit and stuff like that having never tried one on Jingle before. Any advice on what to look for - where to look when shopping?

      2) I kind of see my sidepull as the "snaffle" in the bridle-horse equation, Jingle is starting to get really soft in the sidepull, but I'm not sure if he's ready to move into a hackamore yet. We're still working on a lot of little precision type things that I think will show up as gaping holes in a hack.

      Thank you :) I appreciate it!

  6. I wish you were closer. You could stop by and try out one of ours. :)

    1) I will admit I suffered from some serious sticker shock when we bought our first hackamore. I totally know where you are coming from. Now I spent a lot more time window shopping than actually buying. Here are my favorite sources for this type of gear:

    - Buckaroo Businesses: my hackamore is from these fine folks
    - Martin Black: Brian's hackamore came from here

    Anything you buy from either of those two places will be the real deal. With bosals the best way to judge their quality is by the fineness of the weave. A good one will have thinner strands with beveled edges, so they have this smoothed, rounded look to them. Cheaper ones will have wider strands and the edges won't be rounded, so they'll start to curl out and get pokey as the rawhide ages.

    I also got a mecate from this ebay store and Brian got another one here. Both are nice.

    Last but not least, you can sometimes find used gear of good quality on Ranch World Ads.

    The nice thing about bosals is they are quite adjustable. A standard bosal will fit most horses. We ride a variety of horses in plain 5/8" diameter rawhide bosals with mecates of the same width. It's a pretty versatile set-up. You can change how tight the bosal fits by how many wraps you use when you tie on the mecate, and where you position your bosal on the horse's nose.

    Also, I didn't know this when I got my first hackamore, but nice bosals come raw and unshaped, and the mecates are stiff and rigid. You have to shape the bosal and soak the mecate to start out in the breaking in process. This requires the right conditioner and a shaping block. I wrote a whole post on that process.

    2) A lot of people who follow the bridle horse tradition start their horses in snaffles, but a lot start straight with the hackamore. Both ways are totally viable variations on the tradition. One thing I learned when I got my hackamore is there is nothing wrong with using it in conjunction with other equipment you're more comfortable with. I switched from snaffle to hackamore and back dozens of times before I really fully started riding in the hackamore 100%. So don't feel like you have to think of it as an either/or kind of thing. You can introduce it slowly and make the transition at any pace that works for you.

    Here I am writing more novels on your blog!! Hope this all helps a bit.

    1. I like the novels :)

      Yep... Sticker shock is definitely what is going through my mind, I think I'm going to find a nice used hackamore to try out before I go spend all that money. The only thing is I really dislike the look of the chord mecates, i'd be going horse-hair for sure.

      I just discovered the other day that Bosal's are intended to be shaped and melded... very interesting and very cool. Makes shopping a bit easier.

      2) Good Points! I guess I just don't want to fumble around with a new type of equipment - I feel as if our fumbling days are finally slowly coming behind us and I don't want to introduce something and then screw it all up haha. But.. perhaps we're ready to jump into a new pile of fumble again haha.

      Once i'm home I'll reply with a link to the bosal set up i was looking at and maybe you could let me know if it's actually decent quality or not? :)

    2. I'd be happy to look at the bosal set up you are considering. :)

      Yeah. Brian was just asking me the other day what I think I need to get done with Steen before I move him into the two-rein. At which point I couldn't help but think, "Dang it, I'm just feeling good in the hackamore." I guess it never ends. (And if you want to talk about sticker shock, holy moly, bridle bits are in a league of their own.)

    3. So, I found someone recommending this set-up on some horse-forum

      I was looking at "special number 2", what do you think about the quality? It may become Jingle's belated birthday present haha (he's born at the end of april, but finals seasons means i'm not working at all haha)

      Haha, there's always something new to progess onto I suppose. Oh I KNOW, i'm a bit of a western lifestyle and culture nerd, and I absolutely adore the look of bridle bits, and the prices consistently knock me off my feet. No thank you.

    4. I have never handled anything by this maker before, though I've heard of him. The only thing about 8 strand bosals is the pieces of rawhide used to make them are much wider, which makes them overall a little less smooth. This looks like it has a finer weave on the nose button, which is a good thing. My only worry would be that the cheek pieces could end up a little scratchy.

      However, there is no doubt this is a good deal. The mecate and hanger both seem like they'd be keepers, and if it came to it, you could always start with this bosal and upgrade in a few years.

      And really, the bosal might be fine. The big thing I'd recommend if you go with this one is to be vigilant about conditioning. Rawhide curls, loosens, and starts to unweave if it dries out, and with a less fine weave that is much more likely to happen faster. But if you can keep it soft and conditioned, it will be less able develop rough edges.

      Whatever you decide, I look forward to hearing about it!

    5. Yeah, that's what I was thinking. I'm a little wary about it because of how low the price is, but on the other hand the guy clearly has high quality items, and the mecate especially looks very decent for the price. I'll definitely take your advice - perhaps in May jingle will have a fancy new hackamore! =)

  7. So I have never heard of cowboy challenges before, so I looked it up on youtube and this is one of the first things I found. I don't know if this is a good example of it, or if this is what you were talking about, but whatever it is, it looks hideous.

    I hate that it is timed, because he was trying to do everything fast, his horsemanship went out the roof. His horse was visibly spooking at things, and he just pushed him into it, by the end the horse was still doing exactly what he asked, but looked strung out!

    1. Okay, so while thinking about it and dwelling on it a little bit more, I started to think that maybe it being timed wasnt the problem, but the rider just being an asshole. He clearly didn't prepare his horse for what was coming. Like at the end, he stopped him, and was off and trying to lead him by the time the horse knew what was happening. By then, the horse was hardcore having his mouth yanked on. Which is lame.

      I definitely don't think that they should have the saddling be part of the timed portion though, like maybe bring them in and saddle them, and then start the timing. Because what happened was that horse got his cinch yanked all the way up in one go. Not cool dude, not cool.

    2. I think I have to disagree with you. I thought the guy took his time when he needed too - he didn't race through the backing poles, and he also petted and soothed the horse when he had to lean over to pick up the tennis ball. The only thing that I didn't love about his horsemanship were his stops - he could have communicated them a little better, they were pretty jarring, but other than that I thought he was a good rider. I especially liked his lope departures and speed transitions - they were quite pretty.

      A big thing about cowboy challenges is that, especially at the big shows, they throw the weirdest, craziest things at you and your horse just needs to accept them and push through them. You can train and train, and they can still find something to spook your horse - the major thing is that your horse can regain it's mind after a spook.

      Watch this video:

      This is Glen Stewart riding his stud at the 2010 Calgary Stampede show which is a major show. Glen Stewart is a pretty amazing and famous trainer, and has gone on to do Road to the Horse, etc. I LOVE how controlled he is at high speeds, it's amazing to watch. Also, look at how calm his horse is when Glen nearly falls off after trying to sit back down after standing to reach the mailbox. However, the horse spooks quite a few times, like at the wobbly board with the shoots of water (insane obstacle), however, each time Glen is able to communicate to push through it and the horse does.

      The timed events can look decieving because the horses and humans are so razzed and ready to go, but trust me, these guys spend 70% of their time doing slow and repetitive work over and over again, and looooooots of long trail rides in different terrain.

  8. That's really surprising to me, but I don't know much about that part of the western world. I would think events like Extreme Cowboy should be like jumpers in the hunter/jumper world - whatever works for your horse goes.

    1. Yeah. I agree. The western showing world is actually very stringent on bits (something I thought the entire horse world was like until I discovered how they bit in HJ and so on). I just feel like events that are geared for "one and all, breeds and people" should be a little more open to considering new types/styles of bitting and bitless options.

  9. LOUISA! I'm competing with Tori starting sept and fully next season. I exclusively rider her in bosal now, she hates the bit and I can gain much more softness from her and collection than I ever could in a bit. I emailed the CCC about bosals - perfectly legal. It's just the mechanical hackamores and side pulls and halters that are illegal. So you do have an option :) My opinion, a properly fitting bosal is a beautiful thing when it comes to soft communication with your horse :)

    1. Awesome - keep me up to date on your guys progress. Jingle and I are really just starting to fumble around with the idea of it, but it's been a really great tool in helping to slow down his mind and feet, and so it looks like a path we'll try to stick on for awhile. What show are you doing in September?

      I knew bosals were legal, but Jingle is finally starting to feel comfortable and happy in a sidepull, and so I really didn't want to throw something new on him you know? but! what can ya do! He's gotta learn to be more flexible ;)

    2. Yes, all the obstacles really do help slow things down :) Love the trust and bond they help build too!
      September 8th theres a challenge in Cochrane, it will be our first so I'm really just looking to see how tori goes, and there is a few more after that in the fall. Then come next spring I would like to really try and get somewhere, see if we have what it takes to get to the top :)
      Good point, a side pull acts differently on their face than a bosal does, but one day maybe experiment :P Glad you two are building your bond! Makes me smile :)