Eli does not know the answer to the post title question. And neither do I. But APPARENTLY Eli does not have enough girths. Let’s go over what girths he does have.
The Professional’s Choice Merino Wool girth – by far Eli’s favorite. But not ideal for summer.
The Professional’s Choice Ventech girth – Eli was loving this girth right up until a few days ago. So this girth is also not ideal for summer? Boo. He got a rub 😦
Lettia Coolmax Clik girth – Eli kind of hated the fake fleece out of nowhere this spring & I hate the Clik buckles as they snap down rather painfully on my fingers when I am adjusting the girth from the ground. But this is the one I plan to use in the interim.
Lettia Coolmax girth – see above, but without the Clik buckles. I like it. Will probably use this one in the interim, too.
Lettia Memory Foam girth – this girth is weird, because it is hard as a rock if it is cold outside. Some times Eli has liked it, sometimes he has not. The elastic on the buckles is too stretchy, in my opinion. My saddle tends to slip from side to side a bit with this girth.
Random fake fleece girth from Dover – um, not a fan. I should probably just accidentally on purpose lose this girth. The horse I had it for is long gone.
So things had been going very well with the Professional’s Choice Ventech girth right up until a few days ago, when Eli got a rub behind his elbow from it. I think we he is not so sweaty and his hair is not so fine, this girth probably still works, because he seemed otherwise comfortable in it. But for a Texas summer it is not working. He was pretty negative about the fake fleece on the Lettia Coolmax girths this spring, but he was also in the midst of ulcer treatment so maybe that will not be a problem now? I am skeptical.
So my next question to you, dear readers, is which girths do you like? I have a short list of contenders. Eli has strongly communicated to me in the past that leather is not an option.
The Professional Choice Ventech Combo girth – This is my top contender. It has the vented neoprene but is bordered by the wool that Eli likes. I don’t think the rub he got was from the neoprene itself, but from the border seam of the girth/liner (based on where the rub is). Does anyone have any experience with this girth? It looks like the best option based on Eli’s preferences, price, and ease of care and use.
The Equifit Essential schooling girth – I am still curious as to people’s experiences with this one. I like that the liners are swappable. I kind of wonder if I can buy the Prof Choice Combo liner alone, whether the wool is part of the liner or stitched to the girth webbing? I have not been able to find that as an option for the Prof Choice, so this is why the Equifit is still in contention. The reviews I have found, however, do not look promising.
Majyk Equipe “Hi-Efficiency” Breathable Girth – this girth came out shortly after I bought the Professional’s Choice Ventech girth and I was like , oh, damn. Maybe I need THAT one. It’s neoprene free! I know, we all hate neoprene because it doesn’t breathe and yet it persists as a common material for sport horse tack. Does anybody have this girth? What are the border seams on the liner made out of? Is it soft and squishy and flexible? DOES ELI NEED IT???
Really, HELP. I don’t see Eli tolerating the Lettia girths again for very long. Are there other non-leather options I am missing that work for sensitive, thin-skinned TBs?
And on a completely different note, I have a few pairs of breeches I am selling because they do not fit right.
Trophy Hunters in black olive, 32R. Worn twice. Way too big for me everywhere but the waist. I just need to do some sit ups, I guess? Blog reader price of $75 shipped via usps priority, paypal or venmo.
Equine Couture Beatta full seat breeches in berry, 30. Actually fit like a 30. Maybe even a roomy 30 (weird for EC, I know). Again, too big for me. $25 shipped usps priority, paypal or venmo.
Hello! I am still here and kind of did not notice that I have neglected to blog for two months – for many reasons. I have various updates on Eli, Eli’s fly boots, Eli’s preternatural ability to get randomly injured, Eli’s tack, and Eli’s mommy’s (yes, me) recent realization that is it VERY IMPORTANT to leave work at work and forget about work while interacting with Eli. So that’s where the title of this post comes from – me recognizing I need to be peaceful while approaching Eli if I expect Eli to be peaceful while approaching me. This makes it sound like something dramatic happened but I really just had one exhausting day at work and failed to check my stress at the barn door. Fortunately, I realized this and dismounted and came back the next day with renewed calm and Eli was – magically? no. Responsively. – calm. So I’ll get to that more later in this post.
Moving on to the meats of this update! Eli is doing well. Eating well. Playing in turnout as the weather allows (which omg I think it rained every day in May
and now all week we are getting rain which is super weird for July in Texas but climate change and such, so … ). Going well under saddle if I have my head screwed on straight … and when is THAT never the case for any horse & rider?
Okay, so, Eli’s fly boots: I sucked it up and bought a pricey set of the Shoofly fly boots. Although are they really that pricey if you get 4 to a set? I have never bought fly boots before so I genuinely don’t know and did not research other options since basically everyone recommends these.
At the time of purchase, I was having a difficult time tracking down a blue set in size medium for Eli. So he got orange. I do like orange but wow, these would not be difficult to find if he took them off in turnout somehow. More importantly, they work. Which I am surprised about, because what stops flies from landing above the boots and crawling down the legs? Sorcery? I don’t get it. But they work! Eli’s farrier agreed that they are helping a ton with the condition of his front feet. No stomping = no cracking. He wears them almost all the time, just not when I ride him.
Oh! Before we get to Eli’s random injury of the day/week/month, I did have to get new tall boots. Okay, maybe did not have to, but. I broke the zipper on my Salentos. I mean. I really did a number on it. I zipped a boot sock into it and it took me a really long time to get the sock all the way out of the zipper, all while Eli started at me, tacked up, wondering why no cookie, no bridle, no mommy attention. I gave up and rode in the Dublin river boots and I don’t know how people do that on a regular basis. The sock and zipper suffered complete shredding annihilation. I can get into my black Ego7s as long as I am wearing thin thin thin riding tights. But even so they are snuuuuuuuug.
My orange Deniros need new zippers. Now the Salentos need new zippers. My brown Deniros are too precious for daily use. I need another option. So I ordered brown Ego7s from Equizone (highly recommend Equizone if you are not averse to ordering stuff from Europe) and can now wear breeches again. Yay.
On to Eli’s injuries. A number of weeks ago now, I came out to the barn and Eli’s back legs were a bit chewed up and swollen. He had tiny scrapes all over below the hock on both hinds, and random areas of localized swelling. I have no idea what he did and it doesn’t really matter because horses do random shit to themselves so I may as well treat and move on. I “iced” a lot with the Incrediwear circulation wraps and didn’t ride for a few days, mostly from the rain. Kept icing, rode at just a walk for a few days until all the swelling was mostly gone. He seems fine now. I did try to put the Incrediwear standing wraps on him one night, but he managed to take one off and generally doesn’t like things on his hind legs so I stuck with just the icing after that. And liberal amounts of Sore No More Gelotion.
Now for Eli’s tack: I have switched things up a little bit.
Another thing I ordered from Equizone a long while back is a Trust elliptical sweet iron dee. I like it. I think Eli likes it. Mostly I’ll still ride him in the Dynamic RS but I know he enjoys sweet iron so I wanted that option.
I noticed a few months ago that my saddle developed a squeak (ugh, probably a loose rivet, yuck). Could it be the humidity? Maybe. I also noticed Eli seemed a bit irritated near the top of his shoulder (only under saddle, not really all the time or anything). I started suspecting that his alfalfa bod, my saddle, and the Ogilvy half pad were a less than optimum combination. I swapped the Oglivy for the Thinline, got some Back on Track Mathilde pads, the weather dried out and my saddle stopped squeaking and Eli seemed more comfortable under saddle. It’s weird – it’s like the Ogilvy is just too thick and also slightly unstable. I don’t know why I suddenly experienced all this at once, but luckily I already had the Thinline and everything is working for now. I do wonder if Eli would be better in a different saddle, but due to a particular situation at work which, yes, I will get into in a minute, I am reluctant to spend much money on anything right now if what we have is serviceable already. Which it seems to be.
So yeah, Eli’s tack set up is sufficient for now. My stirrups and stirrup leathers needed a bit of an update, though. I picked up some TSF stability leathers in the Riding Warehouse Memorial Day sale and I don’t know if I like them or not. I have yet to pull the trigger on any new irons. Again, trying not to spend money. To which you may respond, but you got a Trust bit and new boots … ??? Yes, well, those things happened before a particular work thing happened and I had not been concerned about that particular work thing happening for real because of reasons one might characterize as “separation of powers.”
On to the job stuff … I am, along with a couple thousand other people, in a situation that is very fluid but could still possibly end in not getting paid after September 1. Otherwise I would be saddle shopping. This is an interesting situation that has changed my attitude about my current job. I mean. I am a librarian, a public employee. I expect any job to come with some stress but I am now faced with A LOT of stress, much more than I would expect as a librarian. Books do not cause me stress so wtf. On one hand I am completely fascinated by the entire situation because I am a law nerd and a political junkie. On the other hand, I have to eat and put gas in my car and take care of my animals, so it’s a bit of a mess. If you are a law nerd like me you can follow the case.
As a result of this political Gordian knot at work, I had a stupid exhausting day earlier this week and came out to the barn with nothing but anger in me. Eli picked up on it immediately. I did tack up, and did get on, and walked around for a minute, but realized I was not in a mental state that was fair to Eli. I dismounted and felt defeated at not being able to control my emotions over stuff that I normally never even think about while I’m at the barn. But later at home I ran across a couple of posts – one from Warwick Schiller and one from Denny Emerson, both making very strong cases for staying calm around the horse if you want a calm horse to ride. I felt less lousy about dismounting so quickly.
The following day, I got to work from home (we are still hybrid right now at work) and took a lot of breaks, drank a lot of water. Bill filing started up at work and I do truly enjoy indexing legislation so that helped to have my favorite work task. I put on some labradorite bead bracelets (placebo effect is still an effect) before heading out to go ride. Eli nickered at me as always when I walked into the barn and I was much better able to leave stupid work at work and brought peace and happiness up to Eli as I got him out of his stall. And what a difference attitude can make. He was a perfect gentleman under saddle. He was cuddly on the ground. Cuddly! Him! So yeah, if you want a calm, happy horse, you gotta be calm and happy, even if it’s a difficult thing to do under whatever circumstances you might be in. You CAN control whether or not you are calm and happy around your horse. And it makes a huge difference! “Immersed in a cocoon of serenity” comes from the Denny Emerson post and it struck me as a slightly dramatic but very wise way of describing how a calm, centered, serene rider produces a calm, centered, serene horse.
Conrad will be back on the blog soon, too, and he has just as many updates! Blogging helps me track events for both Eli and Conrad, so I hope to get back to it more regularly. There are few affiliate links in this post, too, so if you feel like doing a little shopping through them I’d be very appreciative – I prefer to be proactive about my current income quandary 🙂
Resolutions are not my thing. But I am constantly hitting the refresh button on various aspects of my life. While 2021 just feels like an extension of the endlessly jacked up timeline know as The Ides of March MMXX, it hasn’t stopped me from extensively weeding my closet, getting a new tack trunk, and tracking a few of my health markers with a fitness wearable.
Don’t worry, Eli gets a few new things himself for 2021. First off, without trying to even explain the situation, Eli has a new farrier. The first setting with the new farrier marked a significant improvement to Eli’s hooves, and I can feel it in his gaits. I’m not holding my breath but so far, so good.
Secondly, for whatever reason, the synthetic fleece girths that were initially Eli’s preference, and that he has worn for YEARS, are suddenly VERY OFFENSIVE to the point of Eli trying to bite his girth off while I am on him! He is, if nothing else, a very effective communicator.
I do have a Professional’s Choice wool girth that Eli does not protest, so he still wears that one. And during winter, that’s fine. But a wool girth in the summer in Texas? You can imagine my point well enough. I had been considering the Equifit schooling girth but couldn’t really find any reviews that talked about how the sizing runs. Additionally, the wider center part of the girth might be kind of weird with a martingale. So I returned to Professional’s Choice and ordered the vented neoprene one, just kind of hoping Eli would be comfortable in it.
Definitely got to love the “Made in U.S.A.” So I tacked up Eli with this girth.
Not once did Eli try to bite at the girth. He had no reaction to it at all, really. I’ve been riding him in it since. So at least one Ridiculously Sensitive Thoroughbred approves unreservedly of this girth. 10/10 recommend.
And on to the tack trunk … my wood trunk, made in 1997, needs HELP, so it is now in my garage awaiting its revision/restoration/refurbishment. I liked the idea of these big tool chest trunks, the 50-60 gallon kind with wheels and a handle. I also like the idea of spending $90 instead of $900+ that a wood or vinyl/metal trunk would cost. The Stanley ones seemed to be out of stock in my area, but my local Home Depot had Dewalt ones in stock so that’s what I got.
I had to rearrange how I store stuff in my trunk and locker. My groom box now lives in my locker (plenty of space for it since my tack locker refresh project) and without a tack trunk tray, I nabbed a few of my unused leather pouches and small bags from home for storing all the weird little contraptions and junk that had been in the tray, things like rein stops, hairnets, double-end snaps, gloves, etc. It is also now much easier to get to the clay poultice and hoof packing.
I have made it out to the barn almost every day this month, although I have only ridden Eli a handful of times due to weather. No surprise for January in Texas.
With all this new stuff that makes Eli more comfortable and makes me feel more organized, 2021 is okay so far in my tiny little personal corner of the world. Hopefully we can all only go up from here.
I forgot to mention yesterday, Eli’s RF lameness from a while back resolved with two days of soaking and wrapping with Epsom salt paste. He never blew an abscess, so I think he may have just stepped on himself in the trailer or something like that on the way back from the vet clinic. He is ok now!
Lots of horses live 24/7 in bell boots, and Eli falls into that category. He usually keeps shoes on (unless they are bar shoes ugh don’t remind me) but he does have a tendency to grab his heels A LOT in turn out. So hooray for mitigating with bell boots. Because he wears them full time, they need to be durable but also “soft” enough to not give him rubs. The pull on Italian jumper bell boots meet these requirements. Does it pain me to spend $40 on bell boots that may only last a few months? Not as much as a lame horse from a grabbed heel. Amazingly, I got about 10 months out of Eli’s last pair until he finally pulled one off in a rippy sort of way. I usually have a spare, but not this time.
Okay. I needed Italian jumper bell boots ASAP. But oh, we are in a pandemic and some stuff isn’t open and other stuff is only open for limited hours and really only Dover in town would maybe have these but let’s see what the internet and overnight shipping have to offer so I don’t have to go somewhere unnecessarily.
While I did check a few other online tack stores, Dover is offering OVERNIGHT shipping for $14.95 on orders over $75 (and $19.95 for orders under $75). Find a tack store online that offers that for less, I dare/challenge you. Oh, and it has to be one that carries the Italian jumper bell boots in size III in black. In stock. Now bonus points to Dover for carrying them at $34.95. Not the lowest price I could find online, but the second lowest (and tied with Beval). The lowest was from a tack shop that did not offer such inexpensive overnight shipping (it was more like $75 haha no). I had to buy a few other grooming supplies for Eli anyway, so getting the Dover order up to $75 did not take much. (Maybe I should have ordered second pair of bell boots, actually …) Dover has instituted these shipping rates primarily, it seems, as a result of the pandemic — so THANK YOU, DOVER for recognizing how complicated it can be to get necessary horse stuff right now and offering reduced shipping rates.
As promised, Eli got his new Italian jumper bell boots the next day (an addition to some potions and cookies).
I have not always been a fan of Dover in the past, but recently they have really stepped up their customer service game with some new policies and they have moderated a lot of their prices on popular items that horse people buy ALL THE TIME. (I am almost positive a few years ago I paid $37.95 in store at Dover for these same bell boots.) No, obviously, they are not the only game in town. But for this order, and the overnight shipping rate — I am happy to be a satisfied Dover Saddlery customer. That overnight shipping saved my horse’s heels!
I still have not figured out why it feels like I have less time instead of more time while this working-from-home lifestyle continues. I have neglected blogland as a result.
The pony and the puppy still get a lot of my free time, though, and those are the priority components of my lifestyle, so I can’t say I am too bothered by not blogging. I try to keep up on Instagram, at least. Eli has had his Gastrogard and seems to love the Purina Outlast and he has been doing well under saddle. As you can see in the above picture, he is wearing some grey polo wraps that are the Incrediwear Circulation Exercise Bandages (the mouthful of a name comes from the Incrediwear Equine website ).
I wound up buying these partly because the big top-lid freezer at the barn ate it, so I brought my ice boots home. I was looking for alternatives to hauling ice boots in ice in an ice chest to the barn every day in case I felt like Eli needed icing that day. Although, the freezer in the barn refrigerator still works, so my ice boots may end up in there. But too late for my wallet, the search for icing alternatives was on, and I had seen these Incrediwear products a few times on Instagram and was curious about them.
The Incrediwear bandages can be used for exercise similarly to polo wraps, but then can also be hosed down after exercise for an icing effect (yes, it says this on the website, these are the actual instructions). Can I just tell you right now how unbelievably weird and difficult and cognitively dissonant it was to leave these things on and hose them down while rinsing off Eli after a ride? Wet polo wraps? My brain was breaking a little. However, it is important to remember two things: these wraps were designed specifically for this, and these wraps are not regular polo wraps. The material handles water differently than regular polo wrap material. So there is (I keep reminding myself) no danger of bowing a tendon, or causing some other injury like chafing or something, if these wraps are used as directed and applied properly. There is a TON of information on the Incrediwear Equine website, and if you are at all interested in these, I encourage you to read it and judge for yourself what you think and how you feel about the science behind them. (But don’t forget to recognize generally that science is true whether you believe in it or not.)
I have been using the Incrediwear wraps for about a month now, and have left them on to get wet for “icing” on Eli maybe 3 or 4 times. First, I’ll talk about using them during exercise, and then I will go over using them while wet for icing.
For exercise, color me impressed. These simply do not compare to other wraps I have tried, including regular polo wraps, Eskadron combo bandages, and Back on Track polo wraps (still love you, BoT). Be warned, however, that these things are hard to get used to at first as far as being able to wrap competently with them. The material is stretchy and I had a hard time with how snugly I should wrap them. I didn’t do it tight enough the first few times and one of those times the wraps almost slid off. So maybe pull them a little tighter than you are comfortable with? Or not? I don’t know how tight y’all wrap, sooo … anyway, I am pretty confident in my wrapping skills and these things took me a few times to really get them on in a way that felt right to me. I am STILL (after a month of use) occasionally wrapping, hating, and redoing the wrap while tacking up Eli. The fabric can bunch and fold on top of itself while wrapping around the fetlock so get comfortable redoing wraps until you figure these out. Like I said, I still redo them sometimes before I am satisfied they are on Eli’s legs safely. If you aren’t confident in your wrapping skills, these may not be for you or you may want to ask someone who can wrap well to help you.
Okay, so once they are on, Eli-of-the-rooster-walk tolerates them well. I know this because he walks normally in them (I mean, thanks for the big clue, buddy), even when I have wrapped his hind legs. (Yes. I know. My horse spooks at wearing hind leg wraps sometimes. He has unique sensory processing abilities. Just let it go.) Once I figured out how snugly to wrap them, they do not shift around while we ride. Eli has been feeling good under saddle lately, so I don’t have much to add related to use during our ride.
But after the ride? First, I have observed that his legs don’t get very hot and sweaty under these wraps. He sweats some, of course, because it’s like 94 degrees here until 8 o’clock at night and too humid in the mornings for me to tolerate. The wraps seem to wick moisture to a certain extent. But more importantly I can directly observe that these seem to regulate surface temperature extremely well. Like I am shocked at how not-hot his legs feel after a ride when I pull these off. It makes me want another pair so I can just wrap all four legs. Caveat: Eli and I don’t work too hard when we work. It’s a light ride of about 20-25 minutes with maybe a canter pole or two and a cross rail or two but that’s where we’re at right now. I certainly would not hesitate to jump in these, though. And it really is in the 90s when I am able to ride. It’s interesting. The wraps themselves feel super warm on the outside after a ride, but Eli’s legs feel normal. Based on personal experience, this would not be a result after using BoT polos or regular polos. So that ion transfer thing does seem to do its job.
And then there’s leaving them on after a ride and hosing them down for that icing effect. I have done this 3 or 4 times and left them on for just about 15 minutes or so, although the claim is they can be left on for 45 minutes while wet. Does this actually ice the legs? Not exactly. These wraps reportedly do not cause vasoconstriction, the way true icing would and the benefit of that is that blood flow is not slowed. And we all know how important blood flow is in the horse’s lower extremities. The wraps do seem to draw heat away from the leg even more quickly when wet than when dry. I am wondering whether this could be a good substitute for icing in all cases? What about after harder or longer work? And again, upon removing the wraps, the wraps themselves feel very warm but Eli’s legs feel very cool. Not really cold like icing with actual ice, but completely cooled down and a bit beyond that. I have some skepticism, but the product does seem to work very much like the product information claims. And they make stuff for people that works the same way (and I am tempted by the elbow sleeve …). Eli’s hind legs look and feel great, though. Very tight after using the wraps, holding up that tightness day after day now with continued use. He does experience some fill/windpuffiness/minor stocking up in his hind legs if he ends up stuck in his stall for a day due to weather but by all appearances these Incrediwear wraps have helped him enough for me to keep using them. And buy the hoof socks (review forthcoming, only used them once so far), and want a second pair of the wraps.
The price seems exorbitant for polo wraps. But consider they have multiple uses. I purchased these via FarmVet and used a 10% off coupon code, which helped a little. However, FarmVet seems to be out of stock and is not taking back orders. These can, however, be ordered directly from the Incrediwear Equine website. I have noticed that these and the hoof socks seem to sell out quickly. I bought the hoof socks right when they had been restocked in early July and they are also sold out on FarmVet, but appear to be available on the Incrediwear website.
Once I have used the hoof socks more, I will review them, too. But tomorrow, look for a kind of ode to bell boots:
Oh, OF COURSE you take the right one out, Eli. Anyway. Final word on the Incrediwear circulation wraps? 10/10 would buy again.
I like the Premier Equine saddle pad so much (and Eli seems to, too) …
… that I picked up some fluffy open front boots that were also on sale.
His legs have been getting a bit more beat up than usual in turnout (I presume he is not doing this in his stall). I got concerned about his regular open front boots, that they would cause rubs on areas with tiny scrapes. Polo wraps worked in a pinch, but that’s not quite the level of protection I like for Eli since I know he interferes periodically, sometimes badly.
Fluffy open fronts to the rescue!
I think he likes them?
They run a tad large, but Eli has long legs so they still fit well enough. The “Techno Wool,” as it it called on the Premier Equine website, really is luxuriously soft. I don’t think it’s actual wool, though, as the boots are described as machine washable. The boots have also shed a few small tufts of Techno Wool, but I am hoping that over time this stops, and that it’s just incidental to the boots being new. Otherwise eventually the lining will lose it’s fluffiness, negating its purpose.
For the price, these boots seems to be worth it so far.
Walking with purpose is actually a pretty good workout. That’s not what Eli & I did yesterday, and probably won’t be today, either.
It’s more like we wandered aimlessly, but in an arena. I had been hand walking him the last few days, waiting for him to get a new set of shoes. The shoes weren’t sprung, but they were a bit loose and his toes were ridiculously long, so riding didn’t seem appropriate considering we are in recovery mode.
I do use boots on Eli, even though we are only walking. They are basically extra insurance in case anything dramatic happens and I fall off and he takes off. Not that they would help much, but he likes to bang his legs up so a little extra protection makes me feel better. And of course he wears boots or wraps in regular work because he is crooked and interferes. And he lives in his bell boots.
I have a few new shirts, and one I wore last night. It is an It’s a Haggerty’s, a brand I had not yet tried. Based on other reviews, I sized up, and I love it. The material is very comfortable. The sleeves are long enough. The shirt is long enough. And It’s a Haggerty’s sun shirts don’t just stop at solids and color blocking. The sleeves of this shirt are like a blue rose & leopard/cheetah print. I am kind of obsessed. Even better, the shirt pairs amazingly well with the Kate Botoris. I could sleep in this outfit, it’s so comfortable!
Eli also has a “new” bit, and I can’t remember if I mentioned it before? I got it shortly before he got injured, so it has mostly seen a lot of walking. But Eli does seem very, very comfortable in it. It’s a custom Myler that I picked up used. If I were to order him a new custom Myler, it would basically be this one. Except way more expensive. Yay for the resale market!
It’s a 5″ dee, double-jointed with a copper roller and a contoured sweet iron mouthpiece with copper inlays. It may be a tad on the thin side, but I am a firm believer in fitting a horse’s mouth based on the horse’s actual mouth. It means the finer-boned, smaller-mouthed TBs with narrow palettes might find fat bits – that people think of as soft – as totally annoying and uncomfortable. So don’t let preconceived notions about bitting fool you into thinking certain bits are “soft” while others are “harsh.” Try different bits, and whichever one your horse takes up well and doesn’t fuss in, is the right bit. I had a fat KK Ultra loose ring that Eli HATED. You’d of thought it was bike chain for how he acted. A thinner mouthpiece made all the difference. The double-jointed bits seem to work well for sensitive horses that have narrow palettes or might be offended by the nutcracker action of a single-jointed bit. Add in a contoured mouthpiece that rests in a neutral position on the horse’s mouth bars and you’re set. Bitting is easy!! Haha just kidding. I spend a ton of brain power just thinking about bits and how they might or might not work on a particular horse. It’s one of my favorite training topics.
I am so glad it’s Friday! Work has not slowed down AT ALL and I am hanging on by a thread here. I can’t wait to get out to the barn tonight and play with Eli and then enjoy a glass of champagne while sitting with Conrad in a comfortable chair.
It’s about time to get back to truly horsey things up in here. Eli may not be in full work, but I wanted to get him an open front boot with more ventilation compared to his Veredus, which have none. I also wanted to pick up another nylon girth for him, as his oldest one is getting a bit too stretched out in the elastic area. I was able to find both at breeches.com which I had a 30% code for, so I got a really good deal on both the boots and the girth.
Starting with the boots … did you know breeches.com carries Majyk Equipe boots? That was certainly a nice surprise. And they have the Boyd Martin show jumping series, which have both ventilation and a non-neoprene lining. Plus they have my favorite hook/stud closures for easy on and off.
They are on sale for $60 right now, and I got the 30% off on top of that! I don’t know if anywhere else can beat that price. Of course, at the time of this writing, they only had 1 pair left in full … and 3 pairs left of the matching hind boots.
I ordered the 52. Eli typically wears a 50 or 52 in the Lettia girths, so knowing he’s a bit fat (for once in his life) I thought a 52 would be the way to go.
I actually probably could have got a 54 — the Henri de Rivel Equicool girth seems to run a bit small, so I would recommend sizing up. But of course, a lot depends on the billets of your saddle, too. I would say this 52 fits like a Lettia 50. I also LOVE the dark navy elastic.
Let me just say at the outset that this post is not advice or counsel or applicable to horses in general. This is my experience with one bit for my slightly quirky horse. Anything I write here applies to me and to him. Only.
Myler bits have been a curiosity to me for a little while now. I know some equestrians lament the sale of the Myler imprint to Toklat, and I have no experience with the Myler bits of ye good olde days. I also recognize that Myler is an aggressively marketed brand and any claims surrounding the action of the bit should probably be questioned. I am not saying the claims are wrong, but no bit will fix training issues.
And I didn’t think a Myler bit would “fix” anything Eli is doing or not doing. He goes quite well in the Dynamic RS (yes, Herm Sprenger is also an aggressively marketed brand but I have years of experience with the bits and I am not shy about being a devotee). Our biggest struggle right now is Eli getting flat and on the forehand through the corners while jumping a course. We do lots of flat work and exercises over fences to address this, and a lot of the issue is more my upper body position than anything else (LEEEEEAAAANN what why not).
But would a different bit get Eli’s attention in the corners? A bit with a different type of action and a smidge of leverage? Faster than my leg, seat, and atrocious posture could?
I do remember when I first started riding Eli, the leg confused and startled him. The seat was a bad idea. But he wasn’t my horse and I rode him in what I was told to ride him in — usually my Sprenger snaffles were readily approved. A few times I was told to ride him in draw reins.
But then I bought him, and I could experiment wholeheartedly with my little psycho shark project that jumps so willingly and relatively well. I ditched the draw reins and the short version is after years of work and care, Eli gets the leg. He even understands the leg WELL. He accepts a deeper seat (or, erm, not when his back is tight and it’s 40 degrees but whatever). He is very light in the bridle at the trot. Can be a bit heavier at the canter but seems well-balanced enough for our purposes. The journey to adequate gaits has no end.
What I am getting to is that the Myler with hooks is not a bit I would have used on Eli early on in our relationship. He didn’t understand the leg, and a bit with a little leverage and independent action on each side would have been counter-productive; at least that is what I believe. I wanted to keep it simple and comfortable, so that when he did take up the bit and respond to leg, there was not a question in his mind about what I was telling him. He needed a bit with basic, straightforward snaffle action that wouldn’t pinch his tongue or nail him in the palette.
But he’s a different horse now, and at least a little more sophisticated in his understanding and acceptance of the seat and leg. I can play with a different bit now as a tool of communication without causing confusion in Eli. We pretty much trust each other. He knows I am not heavy-handed, and that I am not going to put anything drastic in his mouth. (Can we melt down all the double twisted wire bits yet?)
I picked up a Myler dee “comfort” snaffle with hooks, the exact variety of which I am not sure. It doesn’t seem to have a port and I don’t know what “level” it is or whether it’s what Myler calls a wide barrel. I bought it used knowing I could easily sell it if I hated it. (Doesn’t all that “level” stuff seem a little gimmicky?)
Ultimately the hooks offer a little bit of leverage and tongue relief at the same time. Slight poll pressure, but nothing extreme. (I cringe at the thought of using a Cheltenham gag with rope cheeks on Eli, although I did use one with leather cheeks on a different horse with excellent results. It’s interesting to me how individuals respond to leverage.)
But the hooks do something else, and this is my primary reservation about the Myler with hooks: provided the horse is at or behind the vertical, the top hooks hold the mouthpiece off the tongue. So yes, the horse gets relief from tongue pressure. But maybe not if he’s poking his nose out a bit, which we like to see in a hunter flat class (for example). Like. Whoa. What if someone puts one of these on a young horse, a green horse, a horse that is not well educated to the aids? That hasn’t accepted tongue pressure well yet? This in my mind is an invitation to evasion and could potentially encourage a false head set and hollow back. All to avoid tongue pressure, rather than encourage it, which in some instances is necessary. That’s how a lot of bits work! It’s not a wonder the hooks aren’t dressage legal. This is not a bit for the inexperienced, in my mind — horse or rider. I could not have used this bit on Eli with any success 4 or 5 years ago. My preference is for a bit that relieves some tongue pressure but doesn’t remove it entirely regardless of how the horse carries his head. I think a horse has to learn that a little tongue pressure is okay and part of a concert of aids from the rider.
But Eli’s 15 and he is what he is, so knowing what I know, I tried the bit on him. I have ridden him in it 4 or 5 times now, to really get a feel of the action in my hand, on my horse, before passing further judgment. And this is a truly interesting bit. Eli did not and does not seem bothered by the changes in tongue relief and pressure, and half the time I’m riding him on a loopy rein anyway. I took him over a few jumps the first time we rode with the bit, just to get a sense of how Eli might respond. While the bit seems to add a boost to our power steering, and a bit more of a check to our half halts, it also exacerbates our problems in downward transitions. While Eli doesn’t seem to mind a little poll pressure during work in a gait, changing that gait is perhaps too big a move, too inelegant in terms of my own faulty aids and he tosses his head — a thing he does not do anymore while working on downward transitions in the Dynamic RS. He does lean and poke his nose out in downward transitions (working on it for all eternity) and I think when he tried to do that in the Myler, he was like wait wtf was that, lady?
So will I keep it? I think so, at least for now. I have no plans to jump in it, and I don’t think I will use it regularly for flat work, but just periodically. Because, somehow through the dynamic of the extra check in our half halt, the bit helps through those corners, and Eli takes fewer steps downhill with the Myler, in transitions within the gait. He seems quite comfortable with the action of it, and doesn’t even mind leaning on it a little (but don’t fear, he’s never heavy in my hand, never has been). It’s almost like that minute poll pressure is some kind of comfort to him.
I will say I do use this bit in a bridle that has a heavily-padded monocrown piece. That is probably a part of why the poll pressure is mostly acceptable to Eli. I am definitely interested in trying the same bit without hooks — although the independent side action intrigues me; Eli seems responsive to it. The mouthpiece itself is unquestionably forgiving.
But of course if I stayed tall, kept my inside leg on, and lifted and squared my shoulders through the corners, that might, you know, help some, too. None of that needs any kind of bit.