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For Endurance or any Discipline


Eric Hought

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Its time to begin riding Tempest in the bridle. She departs, guides and stops well in the D-Ring snaffle with one hand or two on the reins. I didn't ride her much during the winter and early spring so she is still in the D-Ring snaffle. I will put her in a shank snaffle and next year probably progress her to a Mullins mouth piece because it has a lot of tongue relief.

Here's how I will transition her. We will start in a Loomis shank snaffle made by Greg Darnall. The reins I make and use are doubled and sewn heavy latigo, 7 1/2 feet long and 1/2" in width. I like the narrow because they are less in my hand and I can gin up or down easily. The curb chain will be loose enough to get probably 2 fingers maybe 3 between her jaw and the curb strap. I want it so loose because I don't want it to grab her by mistake.

I will sit on her not allowing her to move. Slowly and carefully, I will take slack out of the reins until she can feel the curb chain. I do that so it isn't a suprise to her. I will do this a few minutes before we move and until she is settled with it. It doesn't take much time before she knows its just another thing. We are ready to go.

We are off for the trail which I will ride alone for 4-5 rides. I want her to concentrate on me and not another horse. I will do all of the same things that I have been doing with the other snaffle because its just a transition period. Keep it simple, no speed, nothing new, and everything under control. I will do supling, guiding, departing, loping and stopping just like before. Remember your body language and softness is in place from before. The only thing new is the addition of a curb strap. You can ride cross reined of split reined, whichever is more comfortable for you. When you are comfortable, go to one hand. If you ride with your left hand, place the pointer finger on you left hand between the reins pointing down and the tails of the reins on the left side of the horse. If you ride with the reins in the right hand, reverse the finger and rein position to the right hand. Here's a question for you. How do you know in which hand to hold the reins? The easiest way to decide is if you are right handed, put the reins in your left hand so you could execute something like swinging a rope which would be with the dominate hand. This isn't "the way" it has to be, but it is a logical solution. The only thing left to do is wait, watch and keep it simple.


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