I want to take a minute to show you what I’ll be using for Smokey’s first introduction to a bridle and bit and few other training devices.
From the beginning, I had Smokey in a rope halter much like the one below. I have had mixed feelings about this. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I once looped a lead through the wrong part and got all the knots bent out of shape and also had a serious problem on my hands. Maybe this is because I haven’t used one in the past, but it certainly opened my eyes. I will say that I think it has helped with Smokey’s pulling issue. If he stubbornly plants his feet, this seems to pull in the righ tplaces on his head to get them moving again. Tha flat halter seems to be a little less persuasive in those cases.
I recently bought a flat, nylon halter that I use when I’m doing something pretty inocuous with Smokey or when he will be grazing so he doesn’t step on the knot hanging from the rope halter (as I explain in day 9’s post). He seems to like it and does well on it, but also likes to chew on the lead rope in this one more. I’m not sure if that’s insecurity or just because the lead rope I was using smelled like other horses.
Last week, I bought a training flag from KO Trading. I already own a lunge whip but after seeing how Buck Brannaman uses the flags as an extension of his arm rather than a traditional whip, I decided to at least test it out. I may have a mixed reaction from Smokey at first, as these were used by the BLM staff who seemed to use them interchangeably with a whip.
Additionally, I purchased a cheap headstall that I fully expect to replace at a later date. I ultimately want to ride in a bosal, so I know a new headstall will be in my future. I also didn’t want to be hurting in my bank account over a headstall that could potentially get damaged in training. Who knows what he’ll do to it, but hopefully nothing out of the ordinary will occur. I picked this Bryan Leather headstall from KO Trading (hooray, combined shipping!).
Yesterday, I went to Horsetown and got a set of reins. They’re nothing special, but they are a pliable, medium width leather and will be great for western riding of all varieties. I went for the ones that I found to be most comfortable in my hands. They’re already “broken in” so there won’t be too much stiffness to work out of them.
I also picked up a snaffle bit that should keep Smokey happy and engaged, but not be anything too invasive or hurtful to his sensitive mouth. The copper should keep his mouth moist (it makes them salivate) and the relatively gentle snaffle won’t be too abrasive on the roof of his mouth or tongue.
Aside from these pieces, I have a curb chain that i may or may not use, depending on how he handles the bit. It’s just a typical leather end with chain middle. Nothing fancy and no gimmicks.
I’m looking into buying a new saddle pad as mine is a fairly old and nasty simple Reinsman one. I have done some research that indicates that 100% wool felt pads typically last the longest and are the most comfortable in the long run for the horse. I’m looking particularly at the Diamond Wool pads, and specifically the Contoured Cowboy pad. I think this would make a great addition to a well fitted saddle. Diamond Wool seems to be a good combination of quality and price. i’m not ready to shell out $300 for a pad that doesn’t also wash my horse for me.
Speaking of saddles, mine is some off brand that was hand made in South America that I bought probably 10-12 years ago. It has held up well in the construction department, but inept cleaning and tack maintenence has taken its toll cosmetically. It’s also the most comfortable saddle I have ever had the pleasure of sitting in. It’s like riding on a couch and most people who have ridden in it will confirm this. It’s basically an all purpose trail saddle but fits nicely with pretty much anything I have tried to do in it.