Monday, February 2, 2009

New Reins for Lostine

I decided to buy a new pair of dark oil reins for the curb bit that don't have snaps on the end. These reins still aren't as dark as the bridle that came with my Tucker saddle, but I don't really care. All of my reins with snaps have them sewn on, as opposed to screwed or tied on, so I didn't want to remove them. These new reins came with screws, but the reins are only 6.5' long, so I've dropped them twice already while riding. I bought shorter reins on purpose because with Lostine standing at 14.2 hands, my other dark oil reins drag on the ground when I ride her.

Both Lostine and Bombay have been in snaffle bits their whole lives, so neither of them like this low port curb bit. It hinges and has a roller in the center. I asked my equitation trainer if the bit is too harsh, and he thinks it is actually very mild, so I'm unsure as to why both horses throw their heads around so much when they wear it. Bombay even refuses to open his mouth for it. He clamps shut like a kid refusing a spoon of medicine. I'm thinking the double chain curb strap may be what is bothering them and I may swap it out for a plain leather strap.

This next bit is everyone's favorite snaffle bit. It's a Mylar...

While I was riding, my son caught me sticking my toes out. I've got to remember to turn those toes in.

Whoohoo! Go girls go!


manker said...

greetings... love the myler bit too... as far as reins.. i'm totally picky about length and thickness too... I'm glad that my hubby custom makes 'em... ah.. the leatherworker :)

Also , I left you something on our site :) Drink up!

fernvalley01 said...

Just curious ,why are you moving into a shanked bit? Unless I am completely wrong it looks like you are still using some contact on Lostine and I would stay with a snaffle until she is working completetly on a slack rein. Also unless you are showing I often leave a snaffle on for trail riding or arena work ,I like the added ability to remind them of their flex

Leah Fry said...

Looking good, Nuz! And my toes turn out too :-(

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

manker - Oooh. You have a leather craftsman in the family. Thanks for the award.

fernvalley01 - Good question. That reminded me of my original goal. I had the horses working on a loose rein last year, and then my equitation instructor got me back onto a tight rein. I was in the process of transitioning to a loose rein on the curb bit and got waylaid. I forgot the whole purpose of it.

Leah - Yeah, it's hard to keep your mind on all the things you have to be doing with your body when you ride, especially when you had some unwanted time off from riding.

Rising Rainbow said...

The young horses we're starting need shorter reins too. Dragging them on the ground just isn't safe.

I have to remind myself to keep my toes in too especially when I haven't been riding for a while.

Andrea said...

I like split weighted reins. And they can't be too think, or too thin. And mine all have leather ties. I have a hate relationship with chicago screws. And if I am riding a shorter horse with my longer reins, then I just put a knot in my rein, at the bottom. Plus it ads some weight to the bottom. That way you don't have to change reins around.

And I always ride with my toes out. I don't know why I do it, I didn't used to. But I have to try really hard to hold them in. I need some dressage refresher coarses!!

And I love Myler bits. I really really want one. Some day.....

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Rising Rainbow - Yeah, dragging them isn't a good thing.

Andrea - I prefer ties over screws too. I probably should have done a survey to find out what kind of reins people like to use and why, before buying. I think all but one pair of my reins are too thick to tie knots in. I know I tried to shorten a couple of pairs that way, and the knots were huge and kept undoing themselves. I'm thinking that if the screws break, I can just put leather ties through the holes. These reins were cheapies. I nearly passed out when I went to the local feed stores and saw that the reins were going for $45 to $120. I ended up just getting a $25 pair online.

Jenn said...

I love, love, love Myler bits. Spendy, yes, but worth every single penny. I'm not a big fan of the higher level Myler bits, but I love the snaffles.

The curb has a MUCH different action in the mouth than a snaffle, something your horses aren't used to. A snaffle generally acts on the bars and lips of the mouth while a curb, even a low-port curb, has more action on the roof of the mouth and the tongue. I've always viewed curbs as a step up for a sensitive, finished horse. Because they require much, much less contact and have leverage they are a "fine tuning" bit. Kind of like going from a car without power steering to a German-engineered sports touch the steering wheel and the car instantly responds.

It doesn't really matter how mild a bit is designed to be, it's the hands that make the bit. A heavy handed rider can make a fat snaffle painful, tortuous and cruel the same way a light-handed, sensitive rider can turn a high-port, long-shanked curb into a gentle whisper of communication.

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

I'm very interested and fascinated in this subject of reins and bits, NM.
I hope you might consider doing a post about them one day. I know there are tons of bit, rein and tack info online, but nothing as straightforward and as simple as the way you write about subjects.

As you know my mare has mostly used a Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle with me. I have no aversions to bits, though. I've just been cautious as a beginner as I never want to be too rough on her mouth before I feel I'm a more experienced rider.

I started taking lessons on her using a hackamore and she's done fine with that, though sometimes a little balky at turning right.

At the recommendation of Val (Fantastyk Voyager), I bought Baby Doll a Half Breed Side-Pull Bridle with a built-in jointed snaffle bit to give me more control. Sometimes Baby Doll gets stubborn when she thinks our ride should be over and we should be heading back to the barn.

She normally goes well in the bitless, but at those times when she gets stubborn, we get into a tugging, pulling match with the bitless nose strap yanking tight on her nose and me with sore shoulders and arms. Not fun for either of us.
So, I intend to use the Half Breed with jointed snaffle as a sort of remedial training, while still using the Bitless most of the time.

I'd love to read what your opinions are of that as well as the different bit options available, especially for well-broke horses, who maybe just need a little more control.

By the way, you and Lostine look great out there, except for her ears. Is she annoyed or upset, or is she the type of horse that sets their ears back when they are very focused and listening?
Your tack looks great, too :)


Lulu said...

Some horses never make a good transition to a bit with shanks. The added leverage that the shank provides to the rider can be rather irritating to the horse.

I've actually gone so far as to only put the curb bit in my horses's mouth at the shows. At home I rode him in a snaffel....and occasionall the curb to remind him what it was for.

Oh, and my reins never match my headstalls!!! I have this awesome habbit of putting brightly colored reins on my leather headstalls! LOL

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Jenn - Well, if anything, trying out the curb bit will put my hands into perspective.

Lisa - Unfortunately, bits are a mystery to me. I can only write about what I've had experience with. I haven't tried anything bitless or even a hackamore. I could do a post calling for readers' comments on the subject. I was thinking that Lostine looks rather streamlined with her ears back. She had them back throughout the beginning of the ride because she didn't like the bit. I was holding the reins too tight for it. But eventually she relaxed. You can see that her head was elevated. I usually use a running martingale with the snaffle bit to help keep her head down, but didn't want to use it with the curb bit.

Lulu - I'm beginning to think that I might just use the curb bit to make my horses appreciate their snaffle bits more.

Jenn said...

Curbs will definitely make you pay more attention to your hands and your horses will let you know how they feel about them. I hope you didn't think I was implying you have bad hands! I've never seen you ride, I certainly can't make that judgement...I was just making an overall observation.

One of my friends rides in a very high-ported, long shanked curb with a tie-down and she really, really shouldn't. Unfortunately she doesn't realize her hands aren't as soft as they could be and her horse tried to tell her he wasn't happy by putting his head up. She just tied it down. She's a little bit scared of him and the curb/tie down make her feel like she is more in control. She's one of those friends who would rather NOT hear your opinion about anything, so I just keep my mouth shut.

Shirley said...

Just curious, do you use your legs to get your horse to frame up? By which I mean, squeezing both legs and releasing the pressure when your horse drops her nose to vertical flexion and rounds up her back. When using a curb bit, it helps if you have that building block in place so that you don't need to pull on the reins to get your horse to drop its head and give you its face. Then when they forget, and stick their nose out, you just need to squeeze, and bump one rein, and they drop back into frame. That allows you to ride on a loose reein. My trainer says that most people (me included!) don't ride with enough leg on their horses.

Nuzzling Muzzles said...

Jenn - No, I didn't think you were saying anything personal to me, but what you say is very true.

Shirley - I use both my legs and the reins together to get a horse into frame. Bombay is the only one who will respond to just the legs or the word "collect" without rein pressure. Lostine has never been good about keeping her head set.

Julie G said...

Unfortunately I have a hard time with split reins. I keep getting them caught under the saddle, so I use the other kind. As for the width, I heard a tid-bit from somewhere that the rein should be the same width as the distance from the base of your index finger to the crease of your knuckle. I found it to be true for me and it leads to a very comfortable fit. As for the bit, I'm a big fan of the snaffle over the curb. It's much less invasive than the other to my senior (Probably, b/c I need to learn to give more slack in the reins with the curb.) I loved my Myler too, but since then have switched to a double jointed plain snaffle.
I'm really enjoying reading about all your adventures! Thank you.

Vaquerogirl said...

Love those Mylar bits! and FYI if it ever breaks, send it to the company and they will fix or replace it for FREE!
Glad you got the reins without snaps- you should see a difference in your horses soon.