I get ridden once—maybe twice—a week. We're working on this. FarmWife and I dream of riding and/or driving six days on and one day off, but it may be some time in coming. Never fear—at 16, I am still young!
Still, I have four bridles and a half-dozen extra bits. In rotation, we have my snaffle bridle, outfitted with a Sealtex-coated, single jointed dee snaffle. FarmWife, who loves new bits and who's noticed how I appreciate a more stable mouthpiece, would like to replace this with a rubber mullen baucher snaffle.
I have a pelham bridle, which I use on the snaffle-rein setting for open-bridle driving training (in action, it is much like a liverpool) and which I will use when I go hilltopping with the Woodland Hunt. I don't have any particular opportunity pending with the Hunt, but I'm sure they would love me. Can one hilltop in a dressage saddle? I'm not sure. FarmWife will need to replace her only pair of breeches, which are brown with a hole on the knee.
I have a closed driving bridle with blinders and a two-slot, mullen mouth, Sealtex-wrapped liverpool bit. It was a quarter inch too big and had swivel cheeks rather than FarmWife's preferred fixed cheeks, so I wear it with bit guards. It's snazzy, and makes me look like the real deal. The blinders keep me from seeing the tire behind me, which is nice, but FarmWife says I have to try pulling it without them, too, as an educational opportunity. I supposed she wants me to know I'm being followed now, in a controlled setting, rather than to discover it later when my bridle slips at some bustling event—slips to reveal a fire-breathing monster hitched to my traces.
|These driving photos were |
taken before I got my liverpool—
I used to drive in a rubber
pelham, which worked too.
And then there's my bosal, which is a new innovation. My FarmWife got me a bosal after deciding that my responsiveness to lateral aids (turn, steer, sidepass, yield the forehand or the hindquarters) was just about nonexistent. I grew up a trail mule, and trail mule I've remained. My early steering experience was limited to "follow the trail left" or "follow the trail right," and in a wide-open space I can be as wiggly as a fish. The hackamore is helping, and is giving me some understanding that pressure on one side or the other means something. It helps me keep my forwardness, which is important. It's comfy, it fits, and FarmWife uses it with care. I like it just as well as my mechanical hackamore, which I used to wear, and FarmWife likes it better for it's usefullness as a direct-reining tool.
Between ground driving work on the long lines and trail work in my hackamore, I'm learning a lot about steering. Meanwhile, my übersoft mouth is undisturbed, and I'm free to take a treat from FarmWife now and then as a reward for particularly wonderful work. When I really get it, we'll reward ourselves—with a country drive, or an outing with the Hunt Club, or a schooling show. Until then, I've got a closet full of outfits for those fantasy dates.