I have owned Paint since the summer of 2006 when I sold two really good horses to buy one exceptionally great horse,… for me.. a 50-something cowgirl who wants to ride for 20 more years and look good doing it.
He was 6 then, remarkably trained and seasoned for real work and play work. One thing, however, just never set right consistently with either one of us. He would gap his mouth open, and flip his head when we got into a tight situation. Such as working cattle, or on the whoa, or just for the heck of it. I’ve tried skads of things; snaffle bit, curb bit, gag bit, tie downs, cavesons, martingales, pulling harder, not pulling harder, ad infinitum.
This is an example of of the most recent. It is a 3-piece bit with a short shank, and a caveson to keep his mouth closed. I thought the mouth gapping was a behavioral problem that could not be fixed. Paint is by nature an easy going horse with plenty of power and gas when I need it. Many times he would get chargey and prancey seemingly for no reason. Which in turn made me nervous and hacked off alot. Which in turn made Paint nervous and hacked off alot. All that energy goes straight down the bridle reins into the horses mouth. I know that.
So now we were getting ready for roundup which is days and days in the saddle and my first love. I wondered what other combination of head gear (torture?) would work better for him. More or less?
For once, mercifully, I chose less. I picked up an old hackamore bridle that has been hanging in the barn. It’s probably 20 years old. It actually has a piece of bailing wire replacing a rivet holding it together. Some cowboy must have used his engineering skills to fix it years ago.
I said to myself and to him, “I’m gonna get out of your mouth today. I’m a little scared about control, but I’m just gonna trust that this is the right thing to do for you”. As you can see in this photo there is nothing in his mouth, not much around his head at all. This is what they call a “mechanical” Hackamore. As opposed to a true Hackamore/Bosal that is made of rawhide.
In one day, we both went from upset, pulling and jerking, head flipping, nervous and extremely hacked off to easy, quiet, happy. In the last 2 weeks we have travelled dozens of miles, gathered hundreds of cattle, sorted and cut in the corrals, loaded trucks, neck reigning all the way.
Quiet happy horse and cowgirl.
I think he has been trying to tell me this for awhile. I’m listening now.
Paint you make me look good.
Love, Cowgirl Red, aka Terah………………….hacked off no more
P.S. Don’t try this at home, consult a professional or just listen to your horse. Happy Trails
I am a Cowgirl, Artist ...... Goddess of the Plains.
Encourager, engager, and "Gap Jumper In-er"
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