What you can't see in this picture is me. My name is Jocelyn and I am starting this blog to share my experiences with my two horses. I live on a farm in the Ozark National Forest. We are too far from any town to be on the grid. All of our electricity is solar and our water comes from a very reliable spring. In keeping with this natural life-style, I am also raising my horses naturally.
I purchased Justin (gelding, on the right in this photo) and Sasha (mare, on the left) as untrained two-year-olds. Justin and Sasha are half-siblings (same dad, different moms). They were both skittish from a lack of handling when I brought them home. In future posts, you will read how I "broke" them using a round-pen and natural, gentle methods. Justin is behind Sasha in his training (boys mature more slowly, even in horses, it seems!) so you will get some real-time info on his progress, too!
What you can''t see in the picture above is me. I am riding Sasha, and ponying Justin. We are on a trail ride. One thing we have in abundance is great trails to ride around here! One of my core beliefs is that horses can be trained for any discipline out on the trail. My chosen discipline is dressage, but I have in the past worked for barns training hunt seat, western pleasure, and saddle seat. In college, I did some show jumping. So my background is very diverse and well rounded. Of course, if you plan to show in any of the above disciplines, both rider and horse will need some ring work, too.
If you take a close look at Justin's "bridle", you will see it is little more than a halter. It is called a "side-pull" and is just like a hand-tied halter, but with rings attached to the side for reins. They are unused in this pic because I have attached the lead-line to the bottom loop for ponying. This side-pull is mainly what I ride in. Both horses do well bitless. Sasha has been ridden in a variety of bits and Justin is just learning to accept one. I bought both side-pulls off ebay.
At the end of this particular trail is a nice watering hole. Here you see my two horses and my dog all enjoying a cool drink. We've been on the trail- waling and trotting up and down hills- for about 40 minutes. On a hot summer's day, we all can work up quite a sweat!
So this is the side-pull. The white part is the nose-band. I have shown it with one rein attached to the near ring (where you would put it to ride) and the other rein attached to the loop that would hang below the horse's chin (where you would put it to use as a halter). This "bridle" is great for trail rides because if you want to get off and take a break, you can easily tie your horse without a fuss. If you notice, the piece that goes over the horse's poll is double: I like to use it as a one-ear to prevent it from slipping back on the horse's neck. When you get your new side-pull and put it on for the first time, you might find it a little tight here and a little loose there. No problem! it is easy to loosen the knots a little and make adjustments. I like to do this while the horse is wearing the side-pull- it is quicker and easier to see what you are doing. Make sure you pull the knots tight so they do not loosen and change while you ride. Another thing I like to do with a side-pull is add a clip so I don't have to tie it each time I put it on. I do this for my rope halters, too.
This is a close-up of the swivel-snap that I added to the bridle.