About this Blog

Meet my very 1st horse, Lazarus.
I couldn't wait for Santa anymore or ask one more time for a pony for my bday (after age 30 it got embarrassing). I took matters in my own hands and I finally decided to pick a pony that needed a new home. Laz found me as I contemplated with this idea. He was sweet yet very sassy, fresh off the track, Thoroughbred (OTTB).
Join us for our re-training, rehabbing from laminitis and testing all parts of mixed up horsemanship and partnership, and luck...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring Lesson

Finally the weather (semi) cooperated so I could have my lesson that I've had to reschedule 3 times now.
I was so excited! 
2 hours of a private lesson with my trainer Meggie, who is kind, quiet and such a talent.

We started tacked up, and warmed up on the ground. I had Laz's BOT saddle pad on to help keep his back muscles warm and supple. It was a cool 32 degrees and windy on our lesson day but thankfully the pasture dried pretty quickly for decent footing.
Meggie had me work on having Laz stop on his circle with and without facing me. Without facing me helps him stay confident and not always looking to me for 'what's next'
Below I'm using my stick to yield his shoulder back onto circle. Pictures can't always translate, but the stick never touched him and is used slowly and as a request. Nothing vicious, or demanding.
What this picture does say is Laz has a big belly! Eeesh
Here he is stopped on his circle. He understood quickly and did great with it.
Lots of licking/chewing=processing and contentment
Mid snort, lots of releasing for Laz during our 2 hours :)
Yuck on the toe first...we need to hit our gravel/dirt roads for some hoof conditioning now that they are unfrozen
After about 15 minutes on the ground, I hopped up to ride in my bitless bridle
The 'issues' I hoped to work on were Laz's head tossing and 'feisty behavior' I've been experiencing on our last few rides out in the pasture and out on trails.
I put it all in quotes because I'm sure it's him trying to say "HEY STUPID!!! DO this or STOP doing that!" So, it's all part of figuring it out.
What I am not happy about, it I feel I'm causing him some discomfort in his bitless by over using reins and putting to much constant pressure on. Riding a flighty  head shaking horse that wants to run may lead to that poor riding skill ;/
So Meggie had me w/t/c with him to assess what I'm doing.
Aside from being super happy that I'm riding my horse and having my Mom there to document it all (Thanks Mom!)
Sweet Laz. So so tolerant.
Sweet Mason, followed us for almost the entire 2 hours.
 We warmed up tight. No, correction, I warmed up tight. Held my reins like a beginner. She urged me to 'loosen rein' 'loosen rein' 'loosen again' until we had this below on the buckle
Lots of releasing from Laz. 
Duh, me not nagging him or over asking or over reminding him, made for a happier mount.

I forget how long his neck is. On the buckle I still have contact. It's the 'fear' of when he 'acts' up that he leaves me feeling behind. Again, see a common theme. 
It's me. Not him.

Bare tootsies
Once Meggie reminded me of position, leg, LEG, USE YOUR SEAT, loose rein, turn shoulder, chin up (you know everything one forgets when out of working lessons) Laz was a happy, bouncy trotting boy. Walked, halted, cantered from a walk or trot and never 'acted' up. She thinks I ask him something, and then I don't release it. He gets annoyed by the ask and push and hold. Who wouldn't!?? 

Then, we tried something new. Something I requested. I had previously talked to Meggie about a bit option. I know..shocked?? I am as well. My Chiro mentioned that Laz's poll seemed sore and asked about my bitless. It made me think; if I'm using it incorrectly, then sure it would probably make him sore. I wanted to explore a bit as an option to give him a change of feeling, as well as having it as an option for our training, and trail riding, etc. Options people.

"Wazz a BiT?"
Meggie brought the 3 different bits that are for different type of horse personalities
We tried out one, he did very well, but she thinks the less ported one is a better option. We'll try that out next lesson in May
"Meggiezz u smelsss nicccce"
This was the cradle bridle/bit we rode in for anyone interested. I was surprised how well Laz did. He hasn't had a bit in his mouth for 4 years.
Bridle is UGLY, I hate the look of it, but it did seem to function well.
 Meggie left us her C2 or C3, I can't remember...but C1 she thinks could be the winner.
Holy $$$$ for Myler bits
How nice that she loaned me her bridle/bit--um very. I'm returning it April 6 at our next clinic (more on that to come--Laz and I are doing a clinic!!!!!!!!!)
Anyone know of a similar bit/bridle by another maker that isn't an arm and a leg?!
I'd like an option but seems SO costly....maybe it's worth it? I don't know yet.

Laz in the cradle bridle/bit combo
Look who's a Western pleasure fatty boom batty pony!? WTF?!
But, he had great slobber, chewed it a bit, never gaped (I have video but it's on my Mom's phone so I don't know how to upload to my youtube...darn) and we rode like super super soft and seemingly well connected.
No head snaking or acting up. He acted like he had a pacifier in his mouth!
We worked on w/t/c and transitions and he was great. Meggie commented on how soft and sensitive he is.
She wants me to use (as I feel comfortable) the bitless alternating it with bitted to give him options and get him used to it. This is from a trainer who rides in both, and bridle less so I trust her skills and training.
Look at his frame in a loopy loo rein--sorry for the blurry images but these are video stills
So much snorting and nose to the ground stretching in this bitted bridle.
Crazy...I was surprised
 A tired pony who did so very well
I seriously love my tolerant, smart OTTB
and my loyal riding buddy, Mason
 Mason passed OUT at while I watched "Desperate Housewives" (yes, I said it) later that night
What freaking fun we had!


  1. I would look on ebay for the bit, that's where I got mine (Jetta goes in it for xc) for less than half the retail price. I don't really know of anything that's super similar - mikmar has similar ones or you could just go with a plain gag bit (that's basically what this Parelli bit is) like these, the problem is that it's hard to find a mouthpiece similar to the myler that's thicker, smooth and has a center link: http://bit.ly/ZsjZWj or this http://bit.ly/13Wc0Ge.

  2. You liked the same bridle on Kaspin, LOL. Yeah, you can try on ebay for sure:) I know it's a lot but you will have it for a long time. I love mine and the leather is soooooooo soft. Palidor, Enzo, and Kaspin all loved the cradle bridle. Fun seeing the before and after pics. Have you even thought of a rope hackamore(you can borrow mine if you want to try). Or try a leather bosal for no bit( I want to buy one)?? Palidor would also throw his head with that bitless bridle. He wasn't thrilled with the pressure coming from under the jaw, but the other items he was fine. Just some thoughts for no bit work. Congrats!! xoxo

    1. Yes, Meggie mentioned that as an option too...I'm hoping to find something that to Laz, seems comfortable. It may be riding in combinations, on different days! :)

  3. Definitely ebay for the bit. You can get a high quality used bit for around 1/2 the price. Y'all look great! It's good to have different options in the toolbox for bitless/bit/etc.

  4. I had similar issues with a bitless - too much inconsistent contact, and then the contact was too much all over. Glad he liked the other bit though, even if it was $$$!

  5. I read your post yesterday and decided to wait until today to write my comment. I am going to be honest.

    I would never spend that much money on a bit and it is not just about the money. I subscribe to the school of thought that any horse can go in a snaffle (there are lots of types to choose from). All you need is time, training, and understanding of what that particular horse needs to be successful. You and Laz are just starting out again (right?). I don't see why lots of hardware are in order. I am actually pretty shocked that is a bridle designed with natural horsemanship in mind (it has been shown to me in person once before and my gut says "no".)

    My absolute favorite bit is the loose-ring, french link snaffle, which you can find at very reasonable prices or in the egg-butt style. The bits pictured in the catalog combine nose pressure, a port, and leverage (if you use the rein slot at the bottom of each cheek ring). That is much too complicated for my tastes and I think that most horses share my simple tastes.

    I am so happy for you and Laz to be riding in lessons again together. I want nothing but the best for you both.

    1. I hear you on the cost. The reason for the different pressures is to use the bit, last. Make sense? I first started Laz out in a happy mouth snaffle and he hated it. HATED it. I am in general fan of the french link snaffle...that is not off the table. Yes, there is a leverage option, we didn't clip to that. One of my issues with my bitless is after our ride, his leather noseband (loose typically) left marks from him plowing threw it a bit...again, not him, ME...but I still feel bad.

    2. Laz wasn't yielding to the pressure of the noseband, which is a separate, broader training goal than a bit. I know very well that natural horsemanship philosophies address this goal extensively and I agree with the importance of that goal.

      I want to respond to your question "make sense?"

      When I am riding my horse, I am looking for connection. The bit is part of that connection. My position/posture in the saddle and contact with my seat and legs is another part. I agree that the rider should start with the smallest aid possible (a clear thought, the voice) and then progress to physical aids, with pulling on the reins being dead last and hopefully not even necessary in a trained horse, but this does not mean that I ride with loose reins. Some disciplines require loose reins (and they may use a curb bit), but my discipline is dressage so I always have contact with my horse's mouth through the bit. This does not hurt or disturb him, because he understands that the bit is one of many information highways that we have between us (years of work there). He has learned to follow the bit down if I lengthen the reins, because he also seeks that connection with me. Years ago, I rode my big mare in a bitless bridle (Dr. Cook variety) after having always ridden her with a bit. The transition was seamless and she moved exactly the same in the bitless as she did the bridle, because she understood connection and the bit was the only thing that had changed. Why didn't I just ride her bitless from then on? There was no noticeable benefit to riding her bitless and the reins felt "dead" in comparison. I was used to feeling her move her tongue, jaw, and chew through the reins. I got more information about her state of mind and softness with a bit.

      "Using the bit last" does not fit into my philosophy. If I wanted to train my horse to go bridleless, I think that my choice of head/neck equipment would be a cordeo, since that would be completely different from a bridle (clean slate). I would also want my horse very trained to my body and voice, before attempting bridleless. I haven't tried it, but that makes more sense to me than using a bit as a transition piece between bridled and unbridled riding.

    3. My statement of using the bit last means, my goal IF I put a bit in his mouth is to use my mind/body and not have to pick up on my reins to steer. Wiggling, etc. My contact may just be different than yours. There is not a right or wrong, just different. Using the bit last is also, we are re-evaluating our connection as well. Yes, he is pushing through pressure vs yielding which is why we are trying different methods. He yields beautifully on the ground and we are working on remembering/communicating that while in saddle/on his back. I think there is some misunderstanding--I never said we were using this bitted bridle to transition into bridle less riding. My #1 goal for that lesson was to try a bit to see how he did, which he did great-no worrying, no gaping, very soft and lots of licking/chewing/blowing out. I would like to have an option to our bitless as he/we learn to ride/connect better as partners. Once we get more in sync then maybe bridleless...maybe that is so far from where we are today, it's not something I even want to discuss in length. My reason for using a loose rein with him is I didn't expect to put a brand new bit in his mouth after 4 years of no bit, and establish a connection. I wanted to be out of his mouth for the first try and just let him feel it, while I moved it around slightly.

  6. Agree with Val 100%. I HATE the marketing/overblown prices of the equipment the Parellis hawk, and I can't wrap my mind around the fact that they promote these bits. If the goal is bitless, why push SO much hardware? Why a curb? I would play around with some simple snaffle bits with different types of cheekpieces/mouths and see what Laz likes best.

    I also don't agree with this whole, "This bit is for this type of personality" thing--horses are individuals and each has his/her own preferences. The structures of the mouth/palate/tongue will also greatly affect what type of bit the horse will prefer. I found that Salem HATES the instability of a loose ring and is much happier with the stability of a boucher. But some horses prefer loose rings, or D-rings, and sometimes different bits work better on the same horse in different phases of their training. It's just a question of trial & error and seeing what makes your horse happiest.

    And while I think bitless is a great option, I do recall reading an article (on thehorse.com maybe?) that showed *some* bitless bridles are actually harsher than bits. So bitless does not necessarily = more gentle. Just some food for thought.

    And a $259 bridle with ROPE reins????? Holy crap. Also, it's hard to tell because the picture is very small, but that noseband is quite thin and it looks like it's attached to the bit? If so, that's going to be rather harsh.

    I'm very happy for you that you had such a great lesson and gained some insight. Having a set of experienced eyes on the ground is worth its weight in gold. :-)

    I just don't like it when trainers have such a narrow view of tack/equipment and limit their suggestions to the brands/types of equipment that is being pushed by their particular gurus, especially when that tack/equpment is ungodly expensive and not necessarily the best thing for that particular horse.

    Hope ya don't hate me, but that is honsetly how I feel about it. :-/

  7. I'm not angry at any of the comments. I know there are major Parelli haters out there, etc. One thing I want to make sure that I made clear, I asked my trainer to bring her bits. At no time was there a conversation of 'these are god's bits and the only bits out there' She is a great trainer who wants me to be safe, feel safe and ride safe WITH Laz. Bitted or bitless included. So I'm just looking/testing out options because lately there has been something he isn't liking with me using the bitless on him. I agree, there may be another gentle bit (btw when I used this bit it was on main ring so no leverage) that I like better for his mouth and my budget. It's crazy expensive, I 100% agree but there are theories and thoughts that are put into things and reasons why it does helps people with their horses. Parelli or any other trainer, you have to find a kind one you sync up with to help make decisions when you need help :) That is where we are at.

  8. Good, glad you're not upset about honest opinions. :-D

    I just want to clarify that my comments were not made out of "Parelli hate." If you put up pictures of those bits and bridle and they were not affiliated with any trainer, I would still feel they are harsh. Look at those knots on that thin noseband--those are designed to HIT the horse's sensitive nerves. Nothing gentle about it. In the past, I will admit that I used a rope halter with knots like that; but once I realized how harsh they are and that they are indeed designed to hit the horse's nerves, it went into the trash.

    I firmly believe that we should learn about each piece of equipment we use on our horses and understand how it works, the type of pressure it applies, etc. And if you look at that bit/bridle combo, you really can't get around the fact that it is VERY strong and applies pressure to some very sensitive areas. Just my opinion, but I think it is totally unnecessary/major overkill for a horse like Laz.

  9. Super cool! I volunteer for a hippotherapy program, but am not a very good rider myself! I should probably work on that!

    : signe