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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 12:32 am 
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Hi Sue,

Wasn't it you that did an adventure ride in Mongolia on native ponies?

I've been working for the past two weekends with a young man that is going Peace Corps for a couple of years to a rural area there.

They aren't, in that country, allowed to own or operate motorized vehicles, and given the size of the area and slim pickings for public transport there's a good chance he'll either have to be a postilion rider all too much at the mercy of the locals, or he'll have to learn to ride a horse.

I've been reading up and thinking about what it must be like there, horse handling and all. I read the saddles are a dread and chew the bottom and legs quite a bit.

This young man has no experience riding other than just recently with a friend and then with me two times - well, once actually, with the first leson being ground lessons and theory of horse handling.

So today I thought I'd open a new topic, and bring our old friend Dakota, the Morgan gelding that was so responsible for my going pro again, back into the public light.

Then, just now, as I started to create a new topic it hit me, you have been there, and done that. Now my struggle for information is going to be eased a bit, I think - if you will share with us.

So, how do they handle and train their ponies? And what are the ponies like to ride and control?

Dakota is his usual fun and mischievious self. Still treat bound in his thinking but still too willing and fun.

The young man did rather well on his first ride on Dakota who had not been ridden since last fall. It's Spring here now - sort of, rain and cold.

He's following my rein handling techniques quite well even though I suspect he isn't going to get to use them over there.

Is it a kick to go, pull to stop, and pull one rein to turn world there?

Donald, Altea, and Bonnie, with Dakota visiting.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 3:48 am 
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Hi Donald,
Interesting! Where is he going to?
It wasn't Mongolia that I went to last year, but Xin Jiang. There are many similarities.

I would suggest he take/buy his own saddle there if he's going to ride. The local variety is designed for a very particular style of riding, which most of us would probably prefer not to do. :D I have tried it, and it's definitely doable, but very very different. The seat of the saddle is very uncomfortable, and the locals ride at all speeds by sitting first to one side, then the other, never centred in the middle. One leg is always sort of "hooked" on the pommel, and the riders seat is off the horse. Some ride in military style saddles as a modern alternative. He can buy one there if he wants, very cheaply. Stirrups will not be safety stirrups, saddles won't have "e" attachments for stirrup leathers, so probably worth taking his own.

Also girth. Many horses have horrible girth sores. The owners I met are concerned, but helpless, because they don't have access to good quality materials. I could have sold my elasticated girths and safety stirrups 100 times over! In fact I did give them all away at the end of my trip. ;) along with my hoof rasp. My stirrups went to the ten year old boy of one of our host families, who'd had a really serious accident a few months earlier when he'd fallen from his horse and been dragged. He'd suffered serious head injuries which his father, in the absence of medical care,had treated with herbs. He was the treasured son, and his father was scared to let him ride again, but of course, in that culture, it was inevitable. His father begged me for my stirrups. I couldn't say no.

The horses will almost always be the "A" framed shape, all the way down their backbone, (with a few notable exceptions!) so it's vital to have a saddle that gives a good spinal channel, but which doesn't have bars too long on these short backed horses. (Treeless are pretty much impossible.) The bars also need to be more angled than for our flat backed horses, or you find that the upper edges dig in. The old McLellan military style saddles often fit well. Many of the horses are ridden in very badly fitting saddles, and perhaps it's because the locals don't actually sit in the saddle that they don't do as much harm as you might expect. For our style of riding though, I think it's essential to make sure the saddle is going to fit well or you're going to have problems. I like these http://www.pampasaddlery.com.ar/site/en/saddles.html , because I'm heavier than the average local so want to reduce weight as much as possible on these small horses. If I was going to spend any time doing this again, I'd try to save up for one.

The horses (and riders) in the area I went to are descendants of Ghengis Khan's army. They are renowned as having a heritage of highly skilled horsemanship. To be honest, I was a little mystified, and disappointed.

They are incredible horsemen, insofar as staying aboard a moving horse at high speed and undertaking remarkable feats. (I'll have to post a video I took of them playing buzkashi!) But their horse handling skills seemed to me to be sorely lacking, and they don't get the best out of their horses.

The few things that I did to gentle my horse and make him into a better trail companion drew huge interest and admiration. Which was pretty shocking, considering how much they depend on the horse for everything.

An example is, you are told you must not approach or do anything with a horse on his right side. The horse WILL kick you. It's almost superstitious and totally unquestioned. Riders are almost universally (with a few notable exceptions once again) completely afraid of the horses response to work from the right. It took about 40 minutes of concentrated work to have my horse (REALLY wild!) accepting me on his right, touching him, and finally saddling and mounting from the right. (Then of course, I had to teach him to turn right too!) Made my life sooo much easier on our long treks! And my audience were ridiculously impressed, as if I'd done something magical.

Same with hoof handling. Very few horses will allow you to pick up a hoof. For shoeing, they are put in stocks. But with a little approach and retreat, good quality, gentle pressure/release training, they're soooo trainable. I think in a way, their wildness makes them easier to train, as their reactions are so pure.

I think, aside from teaching your young man to ride, it would be very useful to him to teach him the basics of good traditional training techniques - pressure release, teamed up with scratching rubbing stroking. The reason I suggest this rather than CT with food is that the horses generally don't eat carrots, alfalfa, oats apples or anything else we tried to tempt them with. My horse, eventually, after gaining his trust through pressure release gentling techniques, finally began to accept certain wild flowers off me, after I carefully observed which ones he sought out. Then I could add food reward to our repertoire.

If he has some idea of the theory of horse training (there's a little book called " The ten golden rules of horse training" which is an absolute gem.), then he'll be able to teach his horse the things that are important to him, that he finds the horse is lacking. I highly highly recommend this.

As a cautionary tale, there is a British woman currently travelling from Beijing to London on horseback. For the cross china part of her journey, she took three native ponies. I visited these horses where she had left them in Xin Jiang to carry on across the border. They were very small, no more than 12 hands high, round cute little ponies. But she'd had the most serious accident of her very long horse riding career off one of them, which had nearly ended her journey. Simply because he was so wild, and couldn't be handled on the right, among other things. I wouldn't accept this personally. I would want to have a very trusting working relationship with my horse before I put my life in his hands, because I DON"T hang on a horse like a Mongolian. ;)

And I think it's totally doable. My husband, son and I, all spent time working with our horses, checking them out, building trust with little exercises, while others just saddled up and galloped round. Our horses became, over a short period of time, such good and trusted friends, that we were able to really relax and enjoy our time with them, and do things together that others couldn't dream of. My horse, who'd bucked me and his owner off the first time I met him and was absolutely terrified of being touched (difficult to ride them without touching them ;) ) became so attached to me, that one morning, when our guide went up the mountain to catch him from where he hopped (hobbled), he took off galloping in rabbit gait, caught sight of me from three hundred metres away up the mountain, called out to me and ran down to stand behind me for shelter. :love:

Another big difference, you mention, rein handling. Yes. And this is one of the things that mystified me. I saw figurines in the museum of Urumuqi, which clearly show Ghengis Khans riders, sitting on well balanced, rounded, collected horses. In later figures, the shapes change to what you see in the horses now - upside down necks and hollow backs. Somewhere, I think, they've lost something in their heritage. I did see a couple of magnificent horses when I was there, ridden in a style that would be admired anywhere in the world. But it was definitely not the norm.

Now, the horses are ridden in a very particular style, with a different kind of bit to what we use in the western world. The bit is wider than the horses mouth, with a single joint in the middle, and curved around, so that when pulled up tight to the cheek straps, it doesn't sit on the bars of the horses mouth, but pulls up into the corners of the lips. When pressure is applied, the horse pokes his nose out and flings his head up into the air. The rider uses a pulling back motion with elbows bent, hands high and body inclined back, and the horse pulls up short, with very "impressive" snorting and tossing, nose flipped up to be the highest point. All movement faster than a walk, the horse moves with neck stretched out for balance, like a racing thoroughbred. Direct contact is only taken up when needed to stop, slow or turn. Horses don't chomp the bit, or foam at the mouth, and do not give down into the hands. It's like the images of the worst of "western" riding, with the exception that with the bit not resting on the bars, the horse doesn't seem bothered in the same way by the pressure.

The horses, with a few notable exceptions again ;) , all have the hugely developed muscles under the neck, no muscling on top, and hollow undermuscled backs.

We took bitless bridles with us to use- we tried a little "s" hackamore, a simple side pull, and even the local halter which is similar to a bosal, and all were effective... except on my horse. He couldn't accept the feeling of pressure on his nose, and eventually I didn't have time to accustom him to it. His owner insisted that it was part of the reason he was bucking, and I think that was partly true. He felt more freedom in his usual bit, because he could pull into it, whereas the noseband brought him up short and frightened him. So :blush: , I had to shamefully and sadly revert back to his own bridle, with what I considered to be a very crude action as well as against my principle of bitless...

However! :D What I found, was that the trust and directional handling exercises, and companion walkiing I'd done with him really paid off. I was able to ride with a feather lite touch on the reins, keeping them softly looped at all times, taking them up only for a direct aid to complement and clarify my indirect (neck reining) aids and body position. My horse was so sensitive and intelligent and tuned to me, that he understood my point immediately and was such a fast learner, that by the end of the first day, he was neckreining like a seasoned pro, and transitioning through gaits with verbal commands and body weight, and had found the sweet position of having a lowered and slightly rounded neck with a long and stretched top line. :love: I fell in love with him completely. AND he had a running walk! :love: And he loved the way I rode him.

The other horses did equally as well in their halters/hackamores. Being more experienced seasoned horses, they didn't have the same difficulties my young one did adjusting to a different bridle, and they all went VERY happily on a loose rein when they figured it out.

I think it will be very worthwhile for you to teach your young man to ride with good rein handling style - I would recommend western/vaquero method rather than English. (And I know this is right up your alley!) The horses will almost certainly understand it and respond to it very quickly, particularly if he understands the method of training used to get to it, using direct aids only to complement the indirect ones. The riders I saw attempting to use English style of contact didn't do so well. The positioning of the bit doesn't encourage the horse to give to the bit, so all their hard work in "asking" with the bit for give was wasted, and their horses were just continually pulling and tossing their noses right up in the air. I'll see if I can find some photos to illustrate it..
Some took their own bridle with English bit. I'm sure the horses could have been taught to respond, but from what I saw, they were just REALLY uncomfortable, with the unaccustomed pressure on the bars of their mouths. Though the local bits look very crude and uncomfortable, I think in some ways they are less harsh.

A little bit of hoof knowledge, and ability with a rasp would probably be a good thing too. Because of the difficulties of hoof handling, many horse have their shoes put on only once a year. They basically grow off and get replaced again the next year. Many end up with terribly long toes that make it difficult for them to walk up hill, and many end up missing shoes that don't get replaced. I trimmed four or five horses while I was there. One was literally unrideable until we shortened his toes so he could go uphill. These were all horses that had to be put in stocks normally to be shod... and yet with five or ten minutes of approach and retreat and reward, they were happily allowing me to trim, even their hind feet on their right sides. :ieks: Much to the onlookers amazement. Shoeing is generally done by the owner. Some is done well. Many don't have much clue, and don't even own a hoof rasp. They simply tack a new shoe on, directly to whatever hoof wall they are presented with. The lucky horses are the ones that do lose their shoes early on and are able to wear their hooves down naturally themselves before the new set gets tacked on.

Lots for this man to learn!

Good luck with your endeavours! I think your young man is very lucky to have found someone who can give him such a valuable grounding! I'll look forward to hearing more about it.

XSue

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But the horse of the wind, the horse of freedom, the horse of the dream. [Robert Vavra]


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:48 am 
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Ah yes, I remember now - it was western China not Mongolia.

May I quote your post in its entirety to him? I think it will do him a world of good to know what you have discussed and that others care about how horses are treated.

Dakota has taken to him in just two sessions, lovable rascal that Dakota is. But the young man is a natural and works very hard to do things correctly.

He already does all the ground handling right the first time, even picking up hooves. Picking out next week.

He's only done pony ride with Dakota so far with lunge line work to build confidence and learn what "the seat," is about. Got to think about that saddle problem. I've no idea what the Mongolian horseman use other than one report from an american that they were horrendously hard on the rider.

Your description of the horses matches the pictures of Mongolian ponies the same american posted.

Upside down neck, drooping bellies and all. I suspect they are A-frame bodies as well.

I was debating simply teaching him the more rough and ready ways to handle horses or to teach him to do just as you suggest - do good pressure release handling and riding - you might guess which way I chose to go, knowing me. LOL

No reason I should send Mongolian ponies any more pain than they get, or even the same amount.

Let me know if it's okay to quote you directly.

Hugs, Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 9:02 am 
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I started riding all because of Mongolia... and my girlfriend of course :D. We decided to go to Mongolia for one month in 2007 and I thought the logical and of course romanticised means of travel will be on horseback. So I took a couple of riding lessons and off we went :ieks:.
We did a 10 days trail ride there with tents and all. It was absolutely stunning and very interesting from a cultural point of view. Unfortunately, I was so green in dealing with horses, that I didn´t pay enough attention to the little details as I would now. I´m really sorry for that, because I don´t know if I ever can go back there again. And apart from that I´m afraid the country is changing a lot. Like Sue said, I also think that very much about the horsemanship and knowledge about horses has already been lost. I´m afraid a lot of that loss is owed to the Soviet occupation. Their way of taking the horses away from the people and putting them together in kolkhozes, severed the link for the younger generations and showed the disrespect for their history and tradition.
Another point is that in the days of Ghengis Khan the horse was used a lot for fighting warring clans and later for campaigning against half of the world. So the training for those purposes was very different to the later uses, which were primarily for herding or as means of travel.
I have experienced that the attachment to the horse is so different in the countries I´ve been to. After Mongolia, we have been to Kyrgyzstan and Jordan as well - all nomadic cultures with a strong horse related historical background. Where the nomads in the Wadi Rum had a very strong and loving attachment to their horses, the Kyrgyz people had it less so and the Mongolian people we have talked to had it even less. They didn´t even have names for any of their horses. Only colours. Mine was called "Green" :ieks: :). Of course that comes from the fact that had a whole herd of horses roaming wild around their gers and they only caught one of them if they needed a ride. They can also never be sure if a particular horse will survive the next winter - they have a handful of words just for the different kinds of death of animals during winter. So, in the end I think it is understandable that the riding style and their way of handling horses is so totally different to what we are used to.

In every other aspect I totally agree with what Sue said. What she described would be a most accurate observation of Mongolian horsemanship as well. I hope you don´t mind, but I have gathered a couple of images I took in Mongolia, where you can see the horses and their tack and riding style. I can provide them in bigger size if you want...
They use indeed two kinds of saddles, the traditional wooden one which is very uncomfortable - even for Mongolians even they don´t admit it easily - and the newer Russian military saddle which we used and which is also quite uncomfortable.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 1:54 pm 
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Ah, Volker, very useful and though provoking pictures and commentary. I had a hunch conditions might be as stark and harsh for the Mongolian horse as you have said.

The saddle situation has me stumped. I'm not quite sure what to recommend to my young friend. I think he's going to be shocked at how rough a saddle can be for long rides, even the more comfortable ones. He's in no condition as he's not done any long rides.

We'll have to encourage him to find padding I think.

How sad but resigned some of the horses in the pictures look. They know nothing else. Some few so poorly fed too it appears. Others look fit and filled out nicely though. The yellow dun in the earlier picture is in nice shape.

Did you happen to note the hoof condition? Those where Sue was surely must have suffered terribly with such poor foot care.

The one instance a bridle with bit can be made out clearly appears just as Sue describes for the area she was in. The bit is over sized (from our standards of bit fitting) and will pull the corners of the mouth rather than fall on the bars. That's going to be interesting to explain to my student. I went over the mouth and bars and bitting with him last lesson.

If my young student can manage to get the same horse from day to day I can give him some of Sue's suggested handling tactics that will help the horse bond with him, and a few of my own. But I suspect it will be more like you say - horses simply caught up and ridden. I'll suggest alternatives and train him for both possibilities.

I wish I could go with him and meet those horses.

We are going to try and maintain contact if he can access an up and down link for internet services there somewhere. Not likely, but we'll try. Nevertheless he will be able to send snail-mail most likely and I'll share here what he reports.

So much for him to learn and in such a short time.

Thank you so much for your contribution. I know it will help him.

Donald, Altea and Bonnie Cupcake

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 11:57 am 
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Donald Redux wrote:
How sad but resigned some of the horses in the pictures look. They know nothing else. Some few so poorly fed too it appears. Others look fit and filled out nicely though. The yellow dun in the earlier picture is in nice shape.
The earlier pictures are from our trekking tour. The horses we had there were in quite good shape. The business was run by a very nice nomad family with one of their daughters operating from Germany. They know about European expectations and tried to meet them as well as possible, without sacrificing their cultural identity though.
The last images are from a Naadam festival. If I remember correctly it was the race of the 2-year-old horses. They have to cover 30km (about 19 miles) in full speed with young children as jockeys. If they reach the finish line at all, they are totally spent as you can see.
Lot of the horses the locals ride look very much underfed too, especially to our standards.

Donald Redux wrote:
Did you happen to note the hoof condition? Those where Sue was surely must have suffered terribly with such poor foot care.
Honestly, I´m not very much of a hoof expert now and I surely wasn´t back then. But I remember most of them having nice and very hard hooves - at least the ones I came into close contact with. I can imagine that the hoof quality will be quite good with them, as the very harsh natural selection takes care of all who happen to have bad ones :(. But after all they are all barefoot and really have the best possible conditions for it. At least the horses of the nomad population are all free roaming almost the whole year, on vast steppe ground for which they were intended all along. Although there´s practically not one single wild horse anymore in Mongolia, most of them live in wild herds, but have an owner who herds them back every once in a while. But they have vast pastures and no fence at all to hinder their migration. When we talked with our guides they said how strange it must be in Europe where we keep our horses in small gardens - I´m afraid he was right :sad:.

Donald Redux wrote:
The one instance a bridle with bit can be made out clearly appears just as Sue describes for the area she was in. The bit is over sized (from our standards of bit fitting) and will pull the corners of the mouth rather than fall on the bars.
Yes that was the case with almost every bit. All of them were very thin, single-jointed and usually to long. Although I never found out, whether that was out of necessity, because one size has to fit all, or intended.

Donald Redux wrote:
If my young student can manage to get the same horse from day to day I can give him some of Sue's suggested handling tactics that will help the horse bond with him, and a few of my own. But I suspect it will be more like you say - horses simply caught up and ridden.
It is not unusual to have one or two favorite riding horses, and I guess for a guest they will bring the best mannered, easiest to ride horse. After all hospitality is very highly regarded. But still, he can´t expect very much of a trained horse. It will know a rider I guess, but not much more. Standing still while mounting, or even turning reliably in both directions is more a bonus than a requirement ;). And no Mongolian would ever think of teaching a horse to back up - there´s simply always enough room to make a wide turn, so why bother? :D

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 2:39 am 
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Hi Donald, of course you can share my post with him!

Volker, your pictures are exactly what I'm describing! Same horses, same saddles, same bridles and bits, same peoples.

In the Altai mountains where I went, the population is mostly made up of families of Mongolian, Kazakh and Tuvan semi-nomadic herders, who all share very similar cultures, lifestyles, and horse practices. The horses originated in the same place. In some other areas of Xin Jiang, there have been introductions of Akhal Teke, Orlov Trotter, and even racing TB which have altered the native breed. But where I was, the horses are very typical native horses, of the same stock as the Mongolian horses. Some even show recognizable traits of the Przewalski horses.

The horses in your first pictures do look better cared for! Kudos to that family for being willing to make that effort.

You are right of course. Despite their legendary heritage, the horses nowadays are the vehicles of herders living a pastoral lifestyle, not the near mythical companions of warriors that they once were. This is reflected in the horsemanship and the horses development and training. Or lack of.

I did meet a few people who must be throwbacks, and rode like warriors (with a light, finely tuned, collected and balanced horse) and treated their horse like a valued companion. One in particular, a trail guide, I remember, rode a magnificent blood bay, slightly taller than average at probably nearly 15hh, with a long flowing black mane and tail, arched neck, rounded loins and double muscling down his back. He held his head proudly, with nostrils flared and muscles in a constant state of alert balanced relaxation. His rider was equally proud, balanced, relaxed and ready. They wouldn't have looked out of place in a spanish manege, in fact the horse looked spanish. I was mesmerised by them! I could hardly believe my eyes as I watched him, surrounded by a hundred graceless riders on painfully thin, upside down horses with their noses in the air. It was early in the season, just a week or so after the snow melt, and the horses hadn't yet filled up on spring grass. I had to ask him, WHY, why was his horse so beautiful, shiny, healthy, just a shade under fat? Hooves in perfect shape, mane and tail brushed out, horse responding to lightest commands. The exact opposite of all around us. He told me "I love my horse. If I have little food, I do not eat. My horse eats."
:love: sniff sniff. The love showed in every rippling muscle, and synchronised movement or rider and animal.

His horse also had a name. :D As Volker pointed out, most horses don't have names - the ones that are regularly ridden may be called by their colour, if anything. I think this is an example of the same vicious circle, that we see operating with school horses in many riding stables. (Where riders are also often not told their mount's name.) Because of the rough handling, the horse's emotions are closed off to the humans, so the humans are able to see that the horses don't have sympathetic emotions, only perhaps troublesome reactions, and so can justify that there is no need to treat the horse with more consideration for it's emotions. And around it goes.

There are true horseman still. I met a few there who had broken through this veil of ignorance. I think though that they have not so much learned the art from their forefathers, but discovered it in their love for their horse, just as many of us do. From small kindnesses, great things grow.

One difference which I did forget, between Mongolia and Xin Jiang, is that, as Volker pointed out, the Mongolian horses are generally unshod. I would expect that these horses don't have any of the problems that I saw in Altai, where the local terrain is very rocky often, and the horses suffer from bad shoeing. I am corrected - your young friend shouldn't have to deal with this.

Another thing I saw that shocked me, is that most of the horses I came across were suffering from stomach ulcers! I didn't expect this, from horses apparently living so closely to their natural lifestyle. It was easy to understand why though, when you observe their working life. They are not fed when they are working. They may be ridden for four hours, and are then tied up to a post for a few hours while the rider rests, eats and talks, (you can see this in Volker's pictures I think - grass all around but not a bite to eat) and are then ridden for another few hours, without either food or water. There is a general belief that eating while working makes a horse lazy, and that water is dangerous during exercise. We had to fight with the wranglers during the endurance races to be able to feed and water our horses in some cases. Those of us who did though, proved very clearly that our horses were in much better condition at the end of the day. (And our horses loved us for it!)

And this was part of the reason for organising the endurance races - to bring better concepts of horse care to the local people, where tourist operations are becoming a new big part of their lifestyle. International endurance rules in effect, with vet checks and international judges. Hopefully, some of this will begin to wear off on the local attitudes.

In the hill areas, horses are also not wormed, and many were suffering from very obvious parasite infestations. I wonder if it is the same in Mongolia?

I'm going to go back one day.

Regards the bit Donald, yes, the picture that Volker posted is exactly what I was talking about. It's not actually "too big". :) It's a different design as I'm sure you realise. If you could see inside the mouth, you'd see that the inch or so protruding from the corners of the mouth are not excess length on straight bars as it appears. The two halves of the bit are straight in the middle where it sits on the horses tongue, and then curved in a quarter circle around at the ends to where it joins to the bridle. It's designed to curve around outside the horses mouth like this, so actually can't sit down on the bars of the mouth. Interesting huh? I'd like to see how a horse could be trained to respond to it without all the elbow waving and high hands. Mine did very well, but of course, a week was not long enough to remedy the incorrect muscling.

If he's not going to take a saddle, then I would recommend he uses one of the Russian military saddles he'll find there. At least you can ride on this in a normal seat. Take a "seat saver"!

If he's going to be there two years, won't he be able to buy or lease a horse/horses for his personal use, rather than ride a different one every day? Will he be staying in the same area or travelling? I think if it was me, this would be the number one priority. I would find it soul destroying to always be on some new poor beasts back, if I couldn't make a lasting positive contribution to his life.

I'll hunt out some photos of my trip and try to post them later.

xx

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I have not sought the horse of bits, bridles, saddles and shackles,

But the horse of the wind, the horse of freedom, the horse of the dream. [Robert Vavra]


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 4:51 am 
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You both have such valuable and insightful comments I've invited Eric to subscribe to AND and to come to this thread and read for himself.

I think Eric's life will be pretty full there as he will be teaching English. I don't know if he'll have time for much horsemanship or be more confined to just using one for transportation. That may be something more up to him than not.

The bit design you describe Sue is familiar to me. I can't recall where I've seen it, but it's not confined to Asia.

I assume rein handling is pretty crude - and I notice that the bit is pulled pretty high in the mouth with the headstall arrangement on Volker's pictures.

Though the mouthpiece is articulated I doubt there is much possibility of sensitivity and lightness in the bits use in that position.

It must have been interesting to work on developing the upper portion of the horse, even in the short time you had to do it. When I was a kid we thought a Ewe Neck was an inhereted conformation fault and avoided such horses. The idea that one could properly turn the neck over into a nice arch with the use of proper exercises was totally foreign.

One of those "problems," that perpetuates itself if one isn't in the know on gymnasticizing the horse - ala natural dressage methods.

I have to wonder how those little horses would go if this were done and they could travel with arched necks and lifted backs like their ancestors.

I feel the horseman you described that cared so for his horse is one of us, an AND horse handler. Can he be contacted? Wouldn't it be wonderful to collect more like him all around the world wherever we go?

I miss our member that joined from Argentina then faded out of the picture and didn't post any more.

And of course there aren't enough men here, yet, <snicker snicker>.

I wonder what kind of a seat saver would work best on those Russian military saddles, or if other saddles have shown up in the part of the world.

With those high spines and withers and A frame rib cage what kind of saddle would fit these horses. Their backs must be a mess as it is.

Makes one want to start a Mongolian Horse Rescue Mission, doesn't it?

There is, I understand, a veterinarian hospital (an Eastern U.S. state location) that arranges trips to Mongolia specifically to carry and share equine veterinary care to the country. I think they go once a year. What an opportunity.

Thank you for your input. Let's see what Eric has to say when he arrives. Remember, he's a total novice at this point.

Best, Donald, Altea, and Bonnie Cupcake

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:03 pm 
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I want to send one of Volker's photos to Dave Elliott. Dave is a bit maker in southern Alberta who has studied under Dr. Deb Bennett in order to better learn about horse physiology. I attended a lecture he gave on the function of bits recently and it was fascinating. Although I'm bitless with Tam, I use a bit with Chelsea the Thoroughbred (she is not mine and I don't have a say in it) and when I help others who are bitted, it helps me to understand more about them.

I want to see what he has to say about this bit. It's function is different than anything he showed in his lecture. Where I don't think it would be vastly different in function than a well fitted snaffle IF the horse's face were vertical rather than horizontal ;), I'm wondering exactly how much the riding style (allowing the nose to be high and the horse inverted) influenced the development of this bit in the first place? I mean, with an ordinary snaffle, if the horse's face were vertical rather than horizontal, then it only works on the corners of the mouth (relative, of course to the position of the hands of the rider, if they are not trying to pull the horse's head down).

But I'm curious if the bit was developed as the riding style changed, or if the bit was developed prior to the change in riding style?

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:38 pm 
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I was wondering if an inexpensive aussie saddle might be an appropriate choice of saddle? Can be quite narrow but with a more secure and comfy seat?

Quote:
I like these http://www.pampasaddlery.com.ar/site/en/saddles.html , because I'm heavier than the average local so want to reduce weight as much as possible on these small horses. If I was going to spend any time doing this again, I'd try to save up for one.


COOL saddle!!!

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:42 pm 
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Yes! Me too Karen. Which came first! Next time I go I'm going to spend more time digging up the history.

Donald commented that this bit is adjusted too high in the horses mouth. That is not the style. The style is for it to fit just so into the corner of the lips and not pull the lips back at all. It actually appears quite comfortable for them carried in this way. In this picture, the horses rein is tied up to his saddle, and his posture is causing the rein to pull the bit up in his mouth, not the fit of the cheek strap.

I'll dig out a couple of my pictures that illustrate it well. hang on a tic!

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:45 pm 
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Oh, but i have to say again, the action is different to a snaffle, because of the way it curves around the cheek. Pretty much where-ever the horses head is, vertical or horizontal, pressure on the reins in any normal position will not pull the bit against the bars. Because of the curve and where the rings attach, it can only pull it the sides closer together, and further into the cheeks. I think. :D
Too my photos!

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 4:50 pm 
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No rush Sue! I'm looking forward to the photos though! Thank you!

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:43 pm 
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Here's my little stallion buddy showing off his bit.
Image

Here you can see how they normally sit in the mouth. (This is Chocolate, came very very close to buying him.. he's a very ordinary horse, but his outstanding features are his great bare feet, and the fact that his owner and kids can crawl under his belly and hug him all over. :love: )
Image

Here's my horse with his bitted bridle. I think his mouth looks very relaxed and soft in this bit. I noticed that he was always able to keep his mouth comfortably closed when I was riding him, just like a bitless. Image

Thinking about it again, I'm going to guess that these bits are traditional from long ago, and it's not the bit, but the style of riding with the hands flapping around up the air, added to the extra height that the saddle already gives you above the horse, that creates the vertical head position and hollowness you can see now. I'll show you some photos of us riding in them...

Here's my husband on the little stallion
Image

Me on a friends very graciously accommodating working horse
Image

These next ones are in a different area where there is more western influence, and most horses are ridden in Russian gear and snaffle bits. But you can see the same horrible postures in the horses, and then you can see how the horses react with my husband and son riding with gentle hands and deep, balanced seats. I think these horses would recover their build, just with riding like this over varied terrain.
Image

This horse has TB blood. Image

Now look at this... two horses that looked exactly the same before the riders got on..
My stepson on the left of the picture, and his little helper on the right, making sure the horse isn't too wild for him in his first minutes of riding.
Image
And here he is on a different horse, after the first one proved to be a bit hot for his level of experience. Ak rode that little firecracker instead. What a wonderful little horse he was! Pure Ili Ma!
Image
Every horse we rode, without exception, changed their whole demeanor when we rode them. Partly I think it had to do with our more comfortable saddles, but even when we had to perch up on the traditional saddle, the horse could really feel our attempts to stay in balance with them and appreciated it.

And of course because we let them do this every chance we could!
Image

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I have not sought the horse of bits, bridles, saddles and shackles,

But the horse of the wind, the horse of freedom, the horse of the dream. [Robert Vavra]


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 23, 2011 5:49 pm 
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Sue, thank you!

Would this be a reasonable representation of the bit? Or would you say the curve in the bit is more acute and a little less round-y...giving it more of a square shape?

Image

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