Sunday, April 8, 2012

I use "Gadgets"

Since I am laid up and can't ride I thought I would post about the "gadgets" I use. I have seen and met many people who don't believe in gadgets to get a horse to do what you want. I use them tho. Say what you will but anything that helps me get my point across to Pippi or any other horse is welcomed.

I use draw reins. Hate them but use them, on a occasion. In the hunter ring I need a headset of some sort. Using the draw reins helps get Pippis head down, so we don't look like a darn Giraffe amoung many horses. I don't use them that often, many three times a month. And I don't even have them tight. They are mostly a guilding course. They also help me get Pippis hind end more engaged and relax her front. Now I lunge her in them. I have always done that really but more so now that I can't hop on her back. It helps build top line when I can't trot her on hills all the time. I don't see any problem using draw reins when done right. It is the people who crank them down and force a head set that I feel the need to slap.

I don't own this but I so want one. Neck Stretcher. Love it. Like draw reins but made of elastic stuff that don't force but suggest dropping the head. You only use it when lunging if done correctly but I love it. I hope to get one soon. I also like the German Martingale. One reason I hate draw reins is pinching my fingers but the German doesn't. If you can tell on the link the line connects to the girth then goes thru the bit to the reins and snaps on them. They are adjustable and easy to use.

When I say drop her head I don't mean AQHA drop. I want her poll to be the highest part still but I need her to be on the bit and for her hind end to be engaged. As pretty as Pippi is with her head up high, the judges will not like it.

I also use spurs. I guess that it is kinda a gadget, maybe not, but I use them. Some days Pippi is on it, forward, pretty and floaty but other times it takes every once of leg I have to get her forward. I normally ride in my spurs so I don't have to make a trip back to my tack box to find them, but I don't always use them. I love when Pippi listens to my seat and calves but sometimes a bump with a spur once or twice gets her moving. Pippi have never been cut by them, or hurt. I think anything can hurt a horse but when using it correctly is when it can help the horse.

I give lots of treats. I think it is a gadget that most people don't think is one and most people use. It is my way of telling Pippi she was a good girl. I also give treats to the girls I babysit. I like to reinforce good behavior. When they are bad no treats are given. Pippi gets treats when she lunges nicely and doesnt pull. When she did good in a workout or when she comes to me in the field. I love the look on her face when she hears the wrapper of a peppermint or when she hears me open a bag of carrots. Chance is the funniest with mints. He bites them in half a few times them sucks on them forever. You can really hear him sucking and see his mouth moving. I'll have to get video of it.

So I think that's all the gadgets I use, at least that's everything off the top of my head. Think what you will but Pippi is happy and healthy. In no way does any of these gadgets hurt her, and since I hope to use them correctly they all help her. But I would like to hear your opinions of why or why not use one of these or another gadget.


hearthooves said...

I have never seen a benefit to any gadgets. 99.9% of the time, I see the horse lowering its head simply to evade the pressure the gadget is causing on the bars and roof of its mouth via the bit. Because of this, the horse is not truly "on the bit", but more getting away from it. Another problem I have with them that people use them to get "head sets." This is one of my pet peeves. Head sets are when the head is cranked to evade the bit and the body isn't moving correctly. The proper way to get a "head set" is to get the horse moving correctly with its hind up, up through its back, and in time, the head set will come. I'd much rather see a horse in front of the verticle but moving correctly throughout the body than see a horse with a head set and arched back. I'm not saying you do this, but that's just what I have experienced around me. Do you have any vids/pics or when you first started using them and then some now for comparison? I'd love to see if they worked for you! (: Hopefully you'll be 100% soon so you can go ride again! Not being able to ride must be killing you.

Miranda said...

Thank you for posting your opinion. I love reading about it and truly I have never thought of it to that degree before. Everyone I have worked with has always used draw riens and such. When I use them I make sure to use her "nice bit" which really is just a Dring no twist or anything. This way really it is a low amount of pressure. But I figure I put a bit of pressure on her barrel when I squeeze so I don't think a bit of pressure in her mouth is bad. Once she gives her head I release and give her the bit/her head. This way she doesn't have her neck cranked ever and her nose still sticks out and her pole is the highest part still. I will have to look to see if I have some videos or pictures from early on but I don't know.

S. Lauren said...

To be honest, I'm not a fan of gadgets because I don't see it as "natural" riding but I really do admire you for sharing your opinions and what you like. Everyone has their own "cup of tea" and goals in life, what you do doesn't bother me at all because I know you love your horses and you don't neglect them. In a way, I guess riding can be like a religion, everyone has their own beliefs and interpretation of things, and I don't think you should be forced to do things that other people want, unless the horses suffer but yours aren't. Kind of like what hearthooves said, some horses may go in a specifc "frame" to avoid pain/pressure but these are your horses and you are the best judge of them. I do hope that whatever you do helps you out and that your horses are always happy.
I, however, feel that every horse should be able to be ridden in a snaffle bit and if it is needed for some gadgets that things should go back to basics. That is just my way with the horses I work with. I also like dressage because the ones trained properly can be ridden beautifully without gadgets. It's all working with the horse's body. Best of luck to you but just do what you feel is best for you and your horses!

Checkmark115 said...

Hey! I hope you don't mind me sharing my 2c here, and I'll try to be respectful.
I too, very much dislike gadgets-one of my pet peeves as well. Even side-reins (which I use for lunging on occasion). Usually horses never truly use their whole body with gadgets, they have just learned to keep their heads in place with sharp pains to their mouth-gadgets.
Now, you seem to understand correct riding; back to front, and engagement. This comes with TIME. Lots and lots of time. The lippazans, I think, are trained for 10 years before they can show, because they are correct in the way they carry themselves. There ARE those dressage people who only teach headsets though, and they don't get very far, or dont score as high as those with correct training.
There is the way the head is carried and a "headset". A horse who is accepting the bit and contact will be relaxed through their topline, stretchy and loose. It really shows when a horse is truly connected. Gadget horses or headset horses are tense through the neck, stiff in the back and usually have their heads cranked in. A person who knows the difference can easily spot it. I haven't seen that on Pippi though!
I am guilty of falling for the draw reins in the hunter field (I used to show hunters for 7 years) and all it did was train my mare to evade the bit by curling under. It wasnt until I started dressage with my hunters that I started cleaning up at hunter shows.
Just something to think about :)

Miranda said...

Thank you everyone for your comments. I really
Ike reading about you opinions. I think I usemy draw reins different then many people bc I don't ever ever crank Pippis head. Her nose still sticks out, her poll is the highest point and she is forward and relaxed. I really don't use them that often. I am thankful Pippi never evaded the bit. I do lots of dressage work with her, even tho I much rather just jump everyday (to bad that terrible on the horse so I normally jump once maybe twice a week depending on how nice or bad the weather is.) And I'm glad you can't tell on Pippi, makes me feel I am doing my job better as her rider and trainer.

Edward said...

I don’t use gadgets, well not yet anyway, I use a whip sometimes and I did for a short time use spurs but I was not pleased with using them so now I don’t, spurs and whips are both artificial adds and are technically not gadgets. I do also feed treats for the purpose of training and just because I love to treat my horses. I don’t think you are doing any harm with the draw reins and it’s clear as day you love your horse :)

Dreaming said...

Whew... you got a lot of opinions about gadgets! I like that you only use the draw reins periodically. You mention wanting Neck Stretcher. A driving trainer I had a clinic with makes his own out of round elastic 1/4" cord. He has 5 clips on them. Only two are stationary. The stationary clips attach to the D-rings on the saddle, or on a surcingle. The middle sliding clip attaches to the girth between the legs and the other two sliding clips attach to the bit. I posted a picture of my horse using the reins here:
The rein is adjustable. The white piece that you see hanging from the surcingle is actually the elastic folded back on itself. It has zip ties holding it together at 1 1/2" intervals so you can clip the double-ended clip into any of the spaces to make it shorter or longer. If you have questions, leave a comment on my blog.
BTW - that is one heck of a cast!

SolitaireMare said...

Not a fan of draw reins. Yes, in the past I have used them but I sold them off years ago because I never found any lasting benefit from using them on any horse.

Side reins are useful while lunging, to help guide the horse into a headset. But they must be attached correctly and never so tight that they "crank" the horse into a frame. I always left them loose for the first 10 minutes of lunging for the "long and low" headset and once the horse was warmed up would shorten the side reins a bit to gather the horse into the correct frame for its' level of training.

Spurs are a very useful tool when used correctly (no kicking or poking) and I use them with my current horse who's green. The extra nudge he gets from a properly applied spur helps him clearly understand what he's being asked to do. My spurs are 1/4" neck so they are very short but there to aid my leg if needed.

I have no problem with treats if they are not just fed at random but accompany a request to do something as a reward. Treats fed because I love him go in the bucket. A treat fed as a reward for doing something can come from the hand but any pushy, mouthy behavior stops hand feeding at once.

Have you ever used a running martingale? It's a simple gadget but what's great about it is when it's used correctly and properly fitted to the horse, it applies no pressure unless the horse raises it's head above the hands. As soon as the horse drops its head, the added pressure stops. This isn't always the case with draw reins, especially if you aren't very independently skilled in the feel and use of your hands.

Many riders experiment with gadgets. What I have found from my personal experience with using them is as your time in the saddle increases, and your skills also increase through being exposed to good training, your need for gadgets simplifies and diminishes.

Good post.

SolitaireMare said...

Got your reply over on my post. I am also a hunter/ huntseat eq rider and understand your feeling on martingales since you can't flat with them, but remember, you can't flat with draw reins either! ;)

All are tools to consider, and discussion that furthers learning is the best tool of all. :D

Wishing you a very speedy recovery from your ankle injury and a return to the saddle soon.

Give Pippi a horsey hug from Joey and me!