A Look at Going Bitless

Bitless bridles have greatly grown in popularity over the years. Often seen as a sign that a horse is sensitive and well-trained, riding in a bitless bridle has other advantages, too.

Why go bitless?

Bitless bridles can provide relief and retraining help for horses who have been poorly trained or handled harshly by previous riders. Bitless riding can help horses regain confidence and relearn proper self-carriage. Bitless bridles are sometimes used in the initial training stages, and they can also be used for horses with physical mouth or head issues, such as tooth eruptions or sores on the lips or tongue. Riders may also select to take their horses bitless for the sake of convenience – bitless bridles are popular with frequent trail riders as they allow horses to drink and graze comfortably while on the trail.

Differentbitless options

Bosals – A bosal is a braided loop, generally made of leather which ends with a large knot, called a heel butt. Attached to a headstall, the bosal sits around the muzzle, and the heel butt, to which the reins are attached, falls just behind the jaw. The reins are part of a mecate, a braid of rough horsehair. As the rider shifts the reins, the reins alter the position of the bosal on the horse’s muzzle; the bosal irritates the horse, causing him to respond accordingly. The rough mecate reins also encourage the horse to neck rein and keep him alert to the signals transferred through the bosal.

Mechanical hackamore – Mechanical hackamores operate on leverage, much in the same way that curb bits operate. The hackamore features a noseband and chin strap, along with shanks which can vary in length. As the rider pulls on the reins, he or she activates pressure on the horse’s muzzle. The pressure is multiplied by the shanks of the hackamore, so an unaware rider can inadvertently put a great deal of pressure on a horse’s face with a mechanical hackamore. Steering is not well-accomplished with a mechanical hackamore, as the shanks don’t allow the reins to truly work independently, so a horse depends on leg and seat cues for turning.

Sidepulls -Sidepulls, which are literally bridles without bits, allow a rider to put pressure directly on a horse’s muzzle through use of the reins. A rider can also signal a turn by pulling on one rein, which will put pressure on the opposite side of the horse’s face. Sidepulls can vary in their intensity depending on their design – some styles include different types of materials, such as chain or hard plastic strips, which are run beneath the noseband. Typically sidepulls create very little discomfort for a horse, which can be a benefit if a rider has poor hands, but which can also allow a horse to essentially “run through” signals being given.

Making the transition

When transitioning your horse to a bitless bridle make sure that you have cues which your horse understands and responds to. If you’ll be riding with a bosal or mechanical hackamore, spend extra time working on cuing your horse to turn with your body weight and legs, since direct rein cues will be difficult with mechanical hackamores and bosals. In making the transition to any sort of bitless bridle, establish a firm halt command with your horse before making the transition. Cue primarily with your seat and your voice, and make sure that your horse responds to this.
When you first ride with a bitless bridle, do so in a small enclosed area, like a round pen, if possible. Give your horse time to adjust to the new equipment, and spend lots of time working on turning and downward transitions. Be patient, and realize that it will take your horse a bit of time to adjust to the new pressures and cues. Don’t hesitate to enlist the help of a trainer if you run into issues with the horse’s transition. With time and a bit of training, you’ll be able to see what benefits going bitless might provide to your horse.

Visit Classic Equine Equipment for additional information.

Ways to Prevent Having a Lost Dog and How to Get Him Found

Members of the family aren’t just comprised of two-legged creatures nowadays. Many households have four-legged pets considered as little siblings or babies in the residence. Dogs, as we all know, have long been included as part of the family. They are well-provided for not only with food and shelter, but their medicines, toys, veterinary care and even fashionable clothing are well taken care of.

With all the attention and affection that are given to them, it becomes a heartbreaking experience if they ended up missing and gone. Dogs are naturally curious and can wander off when let loose in the open fields. Some cute pooches may even end up being abducted by other people and kept as their own pets or sold in the black market to earn some cash. While these circumstances are unfortunate, it does happen. Luckily, there are ways for you to prevent the loss of your pet or have them tracked down and found in no time at all.

  • One of the ways to keep your dog safe is to have them on-leash when you are going out. Even if your dog is properly trained and he seems to be very obedient, there will be moments when he can ran off out of your sight. Dogs have in their nature to become predators and a wandering rabbit in the park may cause your dog to chase it off into the woods.
  • If you are highly tempted to let your dog off-leash and let him have a wild time running and exploring the grounds that you are in, you should consider having him fitted with a gps dog collar. This is extremely helpful especially if you bring your dog with you when you go hunting in the forest and he goes running deep into the thick brushes. You can have your dog quickly found with the help of this kind of dog tracking system.
  • Another way to make sure that your dog gets returned to you by other people or by animal control when they are found is to have him wear a dog collar with ID. Make sure that the collar is secure and wouldn’t easily slip off. And include pertinent details in the tag so people can call you when they get hold of your beloved pooch.
  • Finally, the best way to ensure that your dog won’t go missing is for you to be a responsible dog owner. This means supervising and keeping an eye on your dog at all times whenever you go out. Ensure that fences in your home are constructed at the right height which he can’t jump over and that there are no broken slats which he can crawl under or squeeze into. Make sure that your dog is secured on a leash whenever you open your car door or your gate at home.

Birds That Run – Will That Screw-up My Pointer?

Face it. Most game birds sprint. There are a trio that don’t fit the mold. Bobwhite quails, woodcocks and mearns are on the list of exceptions. But the idea that a slew of jogging pheasants will cause a good pointing dog to freak ain’t necessarily so.

When you think of a hunting dog, you’re looking for a companion that’s flexible. If the bird starts to dart, the mutt needs to have enough smarts to realize they’re not dealing with a pre-programmed robot. They’ll shadow the running fowl until the canine can pose a point.

Respect the fact that – if properly trained – the animal knows what its doing. You’re the one that may be screwing-up by commanding the dog to “whoa” at the wrong point. What you have to remember is that training is not a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Practice makes nearly perfect.

Getting into “Whoa” Training

Whether you use a post, barrel, bench or board, the key thing you need to instill is that there will be things that happen in the rushes that are going to distract the animal. That’s why it’s so important to change things-up during the lifelong training process.

Take the pointer to different places. As that’s the initial step, your gig is to try to muddle the dog’s concentration while still keeping them on point. Take along a friend and their dog. Get the animal used to gunfire. Release some live pigeons. The goal is to distract them until they are able to keep focus even if a meteor falls from the sky right in front of them.

It’s a lofty goal, but don’t give-up. The mission is to get your pointer to understand that “whoa” means stop. Now.

Without understanding that central command under any and all situations, you’re setting yourself up – and your beloved pointer – to fail.

In the Field

As we’re ready for the big day, the honest-to-god hunt, you’re taking the cues from the mutt. The pointer catches a scent, beginning to creep along with the prey. Many screw-up by tossing-out the big “whoa” at this point. Bad move. Trail the dog as the pointer is the boss at this moment.

Most often your environment is in a clipped wheat field. Sooner-or-later if the fowl doesn’t get spooked, the prey will slowdown or stop. Watch your dog. They will freeze. You can’t see the bird, but you have to trust your best friend that he’s onto something.

Here’s where the “whoa” command comes in. The pointer has done the job. Now it’s your turn to tip-toe into the brush, flush and fire.

The Lesson that Everyone Learned

You have simply complimented the pointer for being so smart. They had the freedom to figure-out just how close they can get before the prey takes flight. The animal learned their gig and then tagged you to take control. Their job is over for the time being. Everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do.

Another tip: Bring along a buddy to the initial real-live practice. Why? Because if the training didn’t take on the first field test, you need to become a teacher again to correct the pointer for the next time around. Your friend can do the shooting so you don’t come home empty-handed.

Be patient. Never ruin the dog’s day by yelling, smacking or doing any type of discipline that’s going to mess-up the dog’s karma. You are both in learning mode. The first few times may not run like clockwork. But if you keep your cool, your pointer will get the message.

The two of you are a team. Treat your compatriot with understanding, respect and honor. Reciprocation is a great feeling for man and beast alike. You’re both working the same situation – your pointer has its knowledge that it’s bringing to the table. You’ve got the gun.

As Humphrey Bogart said to the inspector at the end of the movie “Casablanca,” – “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”