Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I'm reading "Western Training" by Jack Brainerd. It seems to be a pretty good introduction to the basic concepts of western horses/training, though it isn't as detailed and in-depth as I'd like. I want to know how to sit in the saddle, what the aids are supposed to be like, how exactly to teach a horse to neck rein (not so trusting of youtube), that sort of thing. Still, this is an excellent starting point. Mr. Brainerd sounds like an old hand from the respectable version of natural horsemanship stuff--he's friends with the likes of Tom Dorrance and Ray Hunt. He has a lot of things to say, but mostly what I'm getting right now is that Izzy and I need some pretty serious trail riding time. Basically, in order to work on straightness, attentiveness, and a host of other important things, we need to get out of the arena and go somewhere.

Makes sense. It's just that it's been pouring down rain all morning and I'm not sure I'm that brave. Plus, all the "trails" are going to be super muddy. Hm... the new bravery challenge, I guess. If you have any book recommendations for me, please add them in the comments. I realize I've specifically cultivated a following of mostly english riders so this is maybe not the best place to ask, but whatever. I will distract you by posting pictures!!

I finally settled on a pair of boots for Izzy. What settled me was the matching saddle blanket. ;-) Basically, Izzy does tend to interfere up front a little bit. Since I'm asking her to do new and different things, I wanted to have boots to protect her. It could be argued that I have boots already, but I think dressage boots (or worse, open fronts!) look totally ridiculous with the western saddle.

Thus, I furiously bargain-shopped around town and across the internets, looking for good quality, affordable boots. Remarkably, the best deal I could find was at a local tack store. Win!! I walked in the door, determined to be professional and buy black. Then I was confronted with all different pretty colors... and I realized that I'm never going to be professional western anything... and that there isn't a national show for Oldenburgs doing western... and I could get absolutely any color I wanted.

I admit, I was REALLY tempted by the neon green ones, but I own absolutely nothing in neon green. Not even a pencil. That left blue camo, pink, pink camo, blue, and white. Also orange and some other colors I was less excited about. I have not been a "pink" person since I was like 3, but I was quite interested in those, too. The trouble with a black horse is that absolutely everything looks fabulous on her, so she doesn't rule anything out. Finally, I noticed the blue saddle blanket (on sale) that matched the blue boots and I picked up both of them.

Another view. Silly mare. I think she likes having her picture taken, though she is fairly convinced that most pictures should be of her nose only.

The lighting in these pictures sucks. Sorry... Maybe the others will be better. Don't get your hopes up too high.

These are pro equine boots. They are probably not as cool as the professional's choice boots that are the industry standard, but they are oodles cheaper and quite well made. I looked at the professional's choice and was impressed by the newer models, but even the used boots are so pricey. Yikes. I kept reminding myself that this is a fling and there is no need to invest my life savings in it.

Here is a close-up of our bitting arrangement. I was really impressed at the difference having a chin strap made. It's not that the bit actually came through her mouth, just that it had little lateral stability and slide side to side a lot. Leading and lunging and anything like that was a no-go because the silly bit constantly needed readjusting.

After I put the chinstrap on, the issues went away. Plus, now the bridle hangs better because the bit doesn't just fold. Not a big deal, but I like things to be neat. As Cut-N-Jump mentioned, it goes on the bit rings in front of the reins so that it doesn't interfere with them. It needs to be long enough that it doesn't affect the action of the bit, but short enough that Izzy can't get it in her mouth, which would defeat the whole purpose of it. Also maybe cause panic.

Maybe someday I'll even get pictures of me riding Izzy. Wouldn't that be novel?

I think I'll close out with some random adorable animal pictures.

The sleepy beagle, my loyal running buddy. I can't think of any human partner that would look out the door at 38 degrees and pouring rain and think, "OH BOY!! I want to go for a run", but this little beagley face does it every time. As soon as I put my shoes on, he starts leaping into the air and squeaking with joy. It's infectious. (The joy, not the leaping and squeaking.)

I can safely say that I would not be as devoted of a runner as I am without his faithful encouragement.

And Lewis, the faithful Corgi. He enjoyed running when it meant we went to the ditchbank and he got to run free. He is less enthused about running on a leash, and NOT INTERESTED in going more than 2 miles.

One time, I took him four miles. The next day, I got the leash out and he wouldn't even look at me. This boy does not do distance. Can't say I blame him, what with those short little legs.

What did cats do before there were fleecy blankets to nap on? I have no idea.


  1. Not sure if you're going for western pleasure fun or just general western, but the best way to teach a horse to neck rein is just by holding the reins across the neck (just like when you really neck rein) while also cueing them to turn with your legs/seat. Horses tend to catch on really quickly and its low stress. I don't know of any other ways. I grew up riding all around Paints and Quarter Horses and did a lot of years in western. You can't neck rein in a snaffle though due to the independent action of the snaffle - just confuses the horse. Shanked bits are better for neck reining, particularly teaching it (in my experience) because the bit action coincides with what the reins are telling the horse. Another good way (since I'm guessing you don't want to just throw a big shank bit on your Oldenburg lol) is to ride in a bosal (or hackamore or just halter and lead rope tied to each side like reins) and teach neck reining like that. That way you don't have any pressure on the mouth.

    My QH Hunter was never taught to neck rein, but when wearing a bosal (which we do for fun) he only neck reins and will not direct rein, but will not neck rein in anything else. Not sure why that happened, but who knows.

    Western is fun to dabble into with any horse. Kudos to you for putting a warmblood under western tack! I don't think there's been a brave soul to do that before :)

  2. I LOVE THIS. She looks awesome. That is definitely her color :)

  3. Oh, and the bright Neon colors are totally in for youth and amateur riders. Only the pro's use boring black or white ;) My horse wears lavender, my best friends horse wears yellow, neon orange, lime green, neon pink, and turquoise. We also have green, red, purple, and metallic boots at our barn. We all like to mix and match too, so sometimes a horse wears all boots of a different color. Its fun to have all the options out these days.

  4. lol, Chelsea, I did it with my Hanoverian cross when she was younger. It just didn't go well. She makes a hell of a saddle bronc, though!

    SB -- LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the teal/blue on her.

  5. The blue looks great!

    The bit looks a bit low in Izzy's mouth to me if that's a space between the mouthpiece and the corner of her mouth. Usually there should be a wrinkle in the corner of her mouth.

    I also like eggbutt bits better mostly because they are a bit more stable in the mouth and less likely to pinch, or pull through. Kenny Harlow--a John Lyons trainer--works all his starting horses in full cheeks.

    Never thought much about how to teach neck reining. My horses all kind of just do it when I ride with one hand--well, not quite Chance yet. I have a feeling it must just be an offshoot of the turning aids they learn with two reins?????

  6. She looks beautiful! :) I love that she's an Oldenburg testing the waters of the Western world, lol! So fun! Break those rules


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