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merits of hackmore rein positions?
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Callie
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 Posted: Sun Oct 21st, 2007 01:43 am
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I was reading  _Conquestidors_ , and I noticed that there were basically 4 positions that were used for the reins around the jaw,  1) center front, 2) on the front quarter line 3) on the side of the nose (like a halter or a side-pull) and 4) behind the nose (like the Bosal).

I was wondering about what everyone thought the relitive pros and cons to one way or another might be...

I'm thinking that center front and on the front quarter line would give you the most straight forward "Head Twearling", but that all of the front positions lack the effective release of the bosal, and the front and side positions may not encourage vertical flexion in the same way as the bosal.

Though the serrata/lunging caveson is easily used in a two rein with a snaffle.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?  I have some experience with the lunge cavesson, but none with the bosal, and I am courious as to what type of horse/what goal each position might be best suited to achive.

And I am sorry about my spelling errors, my spell check is not loading correctly this evening.

-Callie

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Oct 25th, 2007 01:55 am
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Callie -- One item you certainly would never want to use on a horse is the serreta. The term "serreta" in Spanish means "serrated", meaning having a surface like a rasp. Some serretas are actually made out of old rasps. They are very rough tack -- a holdover from the Medieval period -- and you don't need those. A bosal is not a serreta.

Second: once you have learned to twirl the head, there is no difference to speak of between one way of attaching the reins or another. The reason for this is that the essence of twirling is about release, not about pull.

It is true that the farther around to the front you put the rein attachment, the more directly it speaks to the horse about the motion you want his head to make: you want him to tuck his jowl under his throat. This is a sideways motion and has nothing at all to do with "tucking". We in fact never want to ask the horse to "tuck"; nor do we ever need to ask him that. Twirling the head provokes the horse to release, or let go of, or "decontract" all the muscles that hold the head back to the neck -- those that if they were contracted, would freeze the head into one position or another. We want them to let go. Once those muscles do let go, then the head will, by the mere effect of gravity, fall into the most desirable and appropriate position for whatever movement or action the horse may be doing.

But, again, once the person has understood this, then it makes no significant difference where the reins are attached, so long as they are attached at least as far around to the front as the corners of his lips, i.e. in some position that, if you pull on the right rein, it tends to pull the head to the right; in other words, that it has a "direct" effect. Once you have understood what head twirling really is, then you will see that this is exactly the same as having the horse "follow a feel". Twirling is just a particular "feel"; different from merely turning right, for example. And if he understands to follow this particular feel, then you can do it in a snaffle bit just as well as in a sidepull, a Caribbean-style hackamore, an eighteenth-century European training cavesson, or a reproduction of an ancient Persian outfit.

There are some kinds of tools, though, that would make twirling the head difficult, or that would definitely interfere with the horse understanding what is wanted. One of these tools is any type of bit with a shank. Another is the Mexican type of bosal. Both of these tools have the point of attachment far below the horse's mouth and/or under his jaws. This means that a direct pull on one rein will result in turning the horse's head the opposite way of that rein, i.e. a direct pull on the right rein will tend to make the horse turn his head to the left.

To use these tools, therefore, much preliminary schooling is necessary. This schooling is given in the sidepull, riding cavesson, or snaffle bit, and its major purpose is to bring the horse to the point that he understands with perfect clarity that you want him to twirl his head when you ask him to do that; and so that he will follow a very light "feel" offered by the hand. At the same time, throughout this schooling, you teach him that your leg and seat are telling him the same story that your hand is telling him, and they are making the same request of him at the same time; so that you touch him with your right leg, and he bends right and simultaneously puts more weight on his left pair of feet, so that he anchors himself well. When this is reliable, and when you can stop his feet from a run on a whisper-light touch, you can go ahead and try riding in either the bosal or the curb bit, because by that point, you are no longer flexing the horse laterally primarily by means of the hand, but instead primarily by means of your whole intention and everything else your body is saying. So you look right, and you offer him a "right feel", and he goes right while correctly anchoring himself on the left. Then it does not matter that the shanks or bosal hang down, forcing an attachment of the reins that is below the level of his mouth.

Hope this clarifies your understanding. Best wishes -- Dr. Deb

 

Callie
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 Posted: Thu Oct 25th, 2007 02:19 am
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Thanks Dr. Deb.

That is very helpful.  It is what I was thinking, but having never worked with the mexican bosal I wasn't sure.

I did want to add, that while I wrote serrata, I do know that some of them have a blade under the nose, but I was thinking in my head of those spanish halter things that are like "Lunge Cavesson Light", with a leather covered steel nose, and rings, but no blade.  I don't know exactly what they are called, but rest assured I would never use such a dreadful thing as a real serrata on my horse.

So if the bosal doesn't add to the head twirling aspect of the training, does it serve a specific purpose in the training besides being traditional?  It is actually less well suited to the training than other pieces of equipment?  Since we get all out tack from the tack store now, would the horse be best served by a differnt progression than snaffle, bosal, curb, as outlined in Buck Brannaman's videos?  Maybe snaffle, lunging cavesson, curb?

I know this seems superficial relative to other inquiries on this board, but I am trying to figure out how some equipment helps you do better training, and what hinders you and if I am missing something in my tool box that I am oblivious to.

Thanks again.

-Callie

Helen
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 Posted: Thu Oct 25th, 2007 06:34 am
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On a similar note, is there any reason to ever progress to a curb? I confess I don't fully understand why these are used in training. Should a snaffle be sufficient?

DrDeb
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 Posted: Thu Oct 25th, 2007 07:45 am
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Helen, there is no "progression" to a curb. We do not "progress" from snaffle or bosal to curb, any more than we "progress" from a pair of pliers to a saw, or from a hammer to a drill. They are all just different tools. Specifically, bits are tools of communication. Hear that again: their purpose is to communicate -- two-way communication. This will help you figure out in another way that there is no "progression" in the sense you meant it in your post. In communication, if that's the whole goal, then if we have static using a walkie-talkie, then we switch to a CB. And if that "breaks up", then we go to a cell phone or a land line. These are all good communication tools, but each of them works in a different way. It's the same with bits.

We do indeed often hear the "trainer" talk about "progressing" from the bosal into the curb or the spade. What this actually means, in most cases, is that the "trainer" has gotten the horse so mixed up, and so hardened-up -- so braced-up through the neck and haunches -- that he knows that if he takes about one or two more rides on the colt in the bosal, he isn't going to be able to stop him with it any longer. So he says to the client/horse owner, "Yep -- 'bout time we moved him up".

Callie, as to your question: the reason Buck teaches it the way he teaches it is that Buck knows what he is doing, and he teaches it correctly. I here mean "correctly" both in the technical sense as being the clearest, best, and well-tested method; but also in the historical sense that this is the traditional and authentic way. When Buck teaches how to train the horse this way, he's bringing you all the rich detail of a way of educating and finishing a horse that has better than two thousand years of history behind it -- five hundred in North America. That's a way, way deeper tradition than any kind of "dressage". So if you're learning about this, and you want to do it, you should consider going all the way and not only buying the very best quality twelve-strand-braid and mane-hair equipment, but also buying a young horse just specifically to train it yourself, from start to finish, in this way. This is the full experience and a total-immersion hobby.

If you want to train a horse properly in a bosal, you will definitely NOT be getting "all your tack from the tack store." In fact, you will get almost none of it from the tack store. Bosals that are sold in tack stores are almost never real bosals; they are pseudo-bosals, abominations that have cores made of cable rather than rawhide. A cable core means that the bosal cannot be shaped to fit the horse's nose, and is about as comfortable for the horse as having a cable in the part of your straw hat that fits around your head. A cable hat would touch your head in maybe four places. A cable bosal touches the horse's head the same way, and it is the abominable design of these things, along with their cheap few-straind overbraiding, that creates the raw noses and jaws often seen in colts being ridden in these things. It is a measure of the ignorance of most Americans that they would know no better than to go ahead and buy these things, which are the commonest item seen at horse shows in their so-called "bosal classes". What these items are really fit for is starting your barbecue -- so if you own one, get rid of that along with your tiedowns and martingales.

A real bosal is, as I have said, made of rawhide with an eight, ten, or twelve-strand overbraid. They cost money and you need to expect to pay money, because they are all handmade. You also need a set of mane-hair reins, and that's another couple of hundred bucks. After that, you will need someone with expertise to teach you how to tie the fiador knot and how to soak the bosal and shape it so that it comes out to exactly fit your horse's nose.

Finally, Callie, for the other things you're asking, you are asking the same question you asked before over again. I have already said that it does not matter what you ride the horse in. The tack itself matters very little, once you have the right feel. Your main job is to educate your horse so that it is clear to him what you mean, and then to be clear in what you say to him through the reins and your body and legs. So you can try any kind of tack you like, and I encourage you to experiment. Just don't expect the horse to understand you want him to turn right if you have him in bosal and you pull on the right rein, because that is not how the Mexican bosal works, as I explained in my previous; he should already know how to turn and should be in the habit of following the feel before you put him in the bosal. -- Dr. Deb

 

Helen
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 Posted: Thu Oct 25th, 2007 11:26 am
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OK, then allow me to rephrase my question:
Why do Buck Branaman and other trainers change bridles? I understand the differences between bosals, snaffles and shanks (though I feel I don't quite understand the fine uses of the bosal), but what merits do each have, and what are the reasons for using different ones - assuming, of course, understanding in the user? That is, I am not asking about those who use different bits because their horse has become deadened to the bit, but those who use them to achieve different communication, as you said. What different messages they send, and when are these messages useful or necessary?

Sorry if this should have its own thread.

Callie
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 Posted: Thu Oct 25th, 2007 03:26 pm
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Dr. Deb-

I'm sorry that I wasn't clearer in my meaning.  Since in the past you learned the traditions of the area, and used the materials you had availible to make tack.  Now that we live in the modern world, with the free use of the internet etc. we are free to learn about, try, and purchase any equipment we want to.  We can get bosals from master braiders, mane hair rope even if we ride horses that have no mane to donate, we can get lunging cavessons from Europe, and bits from all corners of the world.   Those were the thoughts I reduced to "buy everything at the tack store"

 So I think I owe it to my horse to try and figure out what the best equipment it to help us down our path.  I realize that in the end it doesn't matter what equipment you use, but understanding how and why the equipment works really helps me.

And I do have a young horse, actually 6 of them of various ages, 2 of which are about ready to start.   I bred them myself.  And they are wonderful and I love what I am doing with them and how they are developing.  And while I wasn't unhappy with how I have previously started young horses, I know that I can/should/want to be extatically happy about what I am doing with these horses because they are very special.  It is an amazing thing to have know them since they were conceived.  So I am currently searching around for the way to do it better.  I know I have found it in this path, with the birdie book and Harry Whitney (I audited a week with him this year and will be taking a horse next year) etc.

And while it may seem I am obsessed with something superficial like equipment, I am trying to figure out what will best transmit my meaning to the horse.   And what I am getting from your last line to me - the horse should already know how to turn before you put him in the bosal, tells me that it isn't a good place to start, which helps me understand it's function better.

I will do my best in the future to be more clear with my meaning here, as I do my best to be clear with my meaning with the horses.  Ahh, the lessons of life learned at the end of a lead rope....

Thank you again for your council.

-Callie

Last edited on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 03:41 pm by Callie


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