Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bitless Bridle First Try

Well, I have to say I am impressed. I fitted Phantom with the new Dr. Cook's bitless bridle today. Normally, when a bridle with bit is placed in her mouth, she gets tense and makes a fuss if the same bridle has a brow band. I put her on the cross ties and after the dust and fluff, and unclipped her halter and slipped it over her head. I unbuckled the noseband of the new bitless and slipped it on. No fuss, no muss. She even accepted the fact that this was an English style headstall with brow band.

Then she quietly stood while I read the "User's Guide" and made the appropriate adjustments. I was amazed at how quiet and calm she was, especially since we haven't done any work in about six months. She also seemed to understand and work with the new bridle quicker than expected, but since I only worked with her from the ground today, I won't have a full evaluation until I actually sit in the saddle.

I ordered the Draft size as historically these are the only headstalls that seem to fit warmblood sized horses. I have all the straps to their highest holes and it still looks like I have an inch of play on each side. So I've asked for the Bitless bridle folks for some advice. Normally, I'd put some additional holes in the bridle, but it's a synthetic AND if it doesn't work, I have a 30 Day Money Back on it. So far the company has been VERY user friendly.

I'll keep ya posted.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle

Over the past few years, it seems that getting just the right bit for Phantom has been a major challenge. No matter how many times I measure, have another experienced horse person measure, etc... I've always felt that whatever bit I ended up with was never "right". Phantom is not hard mouthed and I really want to keep it that way. So, one day while looking through the latest "Yankee Pedlar Horsemen's edition" publication, I came across an ad for Dr. Cook's bitless bridle and thought..."hmmm...I wonder if this might be a good solution." They had a web site, and I visited.

You'd be amazed at the number of people that have written about their success with this bridle. I've read the product material on the web site and read the hundreds of reviews from satisfied riders that have had similar feelings and issues with bits and their own riding experience. The testimonials made the difference for me. How can 374 pages (Dec 2000 - March 2008) of heartfelt testimonials be wrong? The people writing their stories range from professional dressage and eventers to the weekend horseman.

Now some might think that I might be hard on my horses mouth. Heavy handed or my hands aren't quiet.

Firstly, I am not a heavy handed rider, all of my instructors have said that I'm light and have quiet hands. I do my level best to use leg, seat, and voice over the bit. My friend and current instructor, always said that the "Horse's brakes are in their feet, not their mouth". C'est vrais.

Others might say that my horse is hard-mouthed or has dental issues, or is just a pill.

Secondly, Phantom does not have any issues with her mouth. Her teeth are perfect and she has no sores on her tongue, lips, or any other part of her mouth. She does have a lower palate, which is why I moved away from a snaffle all together. I ride in a meyler low-port mullen mouth which she seems to be fine with, but I always felt that it was hard on the bars of her mouth. I just feel that she is one of those horses that would do well without a bit.

A few years ago, someone had suggested going to a hackamore as there was a pony that had similar bit tolerances. Once the owner switched to a hackamore, the pony was a perfect gentleman and no longer tried to dump the kids. Phant's only intentionally tried to dump me twice, on the same day. That is due in large part to another rider letting her get away with stuff. But in regard to the hackamore, I never got around to that stage.

Since Phantom has had about six months off, I thought we'd start fresh this Spring. Lots of ground work and a new bitless bridle.

I contacted Their staff was very swift to respond and answered my questions. within 2 hours of my hitting the send button. I ordered the bridle the same day. I ordered it the 15th it arrived on the 17th. It comes with a 30 Day money back guarantee. Also if you buy the synthetic and decide that you want to upgrade to a leather, just clean up the synth and send it back, they credit you the purchase price of the synth and you pay the difference.

I thought it was very nice that the bridle actually comes with a "User's Guide" to make sure that you have the proper fit for your horse and a trouble shooting guide if the rider should note that there are somethings that aren't going quite right with suggestions for tweaking.

I ordered the synthetic as it was an inexpensive option. It looks like leather when it comes out of the box. Mine is the English design as the Western doesn't come in warmblood/draft size. It is a nice simple design. I will be trying it out on my mare this weekend and will post more when I have something to report and will try to get photos of the experience.