What is it like to be a working student with a chronic illness?

For the past 3 months, I was a working student, working for Cressbrook Stables in the middle of Alabama. It was the best and, yet the most challenging experience I ever had. I left Massachusetts at the end of June and planned to stay there for 6 months, returning after HITS Ocala. Obviously, that didn’t work out.

Being a working student may seem like a dream job for an equestrian looking to make a career. The opportunity to be around horses 24/7, on the road competing at some of the tops shows in the country. Don’t get me wrong. It’s amazing opportunity, but it’s a lot of hard work for anyone, whether one has a disability or is abled bodied

Photo credit: Sportfot

On days we weren’t showing, I would start out by bringing the horses in for the day, give them grain and hay as well as make up their dinner. Due the hot temperatures and high humidity in the summer, horses were turned out at night. We would then clean the stalls and automatic waterers. Depending who needed to be worked, I could ride up to 3 or 4 horses a day. But typically it was more like 1 or 2. Usually we’d give them their afternoon hay around 12 or 1. Around that time I would also look around to see what else needed to be done like clean tack, sweep, etc. At 5 we give the horses dinner, then turn them out for the night and make up their breakfast for the next day. This is what a typical day would look like when autoimmune flareups were minimal. I take a lot of medication (as in an upwards of 40 pills per day) in order to manage my symptoms. At the moment, there isn’t a treatment out there that has been able to provide long-term remission or a cure. Therefore, its extremely important that I take my medication regularly, get enough sleep, and eat healthy. Those become luxuries as a working student, and yet are essential to be able to produce quality work.

Reliability and consistency are key ingredients to being a working student. And yet those are the two things that are the most unpredictable with a chronic illness. Often with chronic illnesses, we are seen as lazy or unmotivated when in reality we are just as hardworking as everyone else, if not more so due to determination to not letting a disability get in the way of living our lives. That being said, I do not recommend being a working student with an active chronic illness. If you do decide you want to be a working student, it’s important you make sure whomever you work for knows about your health issues, and most importantly understands the unpredictable nature of chronic illness. The reality is, a working student position is likely not realistic as most trainers rely on consistency from the people they hire, which is often out of their control. This can put equestrians without unlimited funds in a tough position, as being a working student is often the only way to have access to quality horses and trainers that will help the rider progress. US Equestrian needs to make this sport more accessible to those with disabilities who otherwise wouldn’t have the funds to compete in this sport

Stübben Freedom Bridle Review

I found out about the Freedom Bridle from my saddle rep, who happened to have it with with her and kindly let me try it. Originally, I was interested in this particular bridle due to it’s curved cheek pieces, as they allow for a better field of vision for the horses. This is especially important for Teddy, as he only has one eye. Sometimes he will peek or shy at things, especially in an environment that’s new to him. Adding little blinkers (or fleece covers) to the cheek pieces of the bridle is a common practice to manage spooky or distractible horses. Teddy needs as much vision as he can get and beccause blinkers block what a horse directly sees behind him/her, I believe they would make Teddy more anxious. In my opinion the Stübben Freedom Bridle doesn’t just manage, but actually addresses the problem in a simpler and more effective way.

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The Freedom Bridle’s curved cheek pieces are particularly suitable for one eyed horses like Teddy.

The theory is, if a horse has an improved field of vision, it reduces spooking and overall anxiety. I’ve definitely noticed a difference with Teddy in the Freedom Bridle as he’s not shying away from things as much as he used to. He seems to accept the connection better and is overall much more comfortable, which I can contribute to the wonderful features of this bridle. Teddy has a thick mane, so where normal bridles often create pressure points, the Stübben Freedom Bridle does the opposite. Unlike other anatomical bridles, there is literally nothing touching the the top of poll. The bridle was also designed to eliminate pressure on the sensitive nerves on the horse’s face. It also has a removable flash so you can turn it into a regular caveson.

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My finger represents the void that is not being filled, giving the horse complete freedom to use it’s head.

 

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The Stübben Freedom Bridle with a plain broadband is priced at $460.

 

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The Freedom Bridle is also available with Stubben’s cool Magic Tack browbands for $550. Magic Tack browbands are magnetized, so you can easily switch out for different bling attachments. Extra inlays are sold separately and can be purchased directly from Stübben.                            Photo credit: Andrea Manley

 

Like the other Stübben bridles, their Freedom Bridle is made of high quality leather. Stübben leather starts out a little bit stiff, but it breaks in relatively fast. While it’s not as buttery soft as PS of Sweden, the leather from Stübben seems much more durable. They tend to run on the large side, so if your horse normally takes a full size, then you will probably need to go down to a cob. Teddy is an oversize and fits into the horse size perfectly. As the little guys, Pony size is also available for as a special order request.

Pros:

– Curved cheek pieces to allow for a greater field of vision

– Crown piece that truly eliminates poll pressure

– Bridle designed not to touch any of the sensitive nerves on the horse’s face

– Durable, high quality leather

 

Cons:

– Expensive

– May not be suitable for horses with more refined heads

– As of now, they are not legal for dressage, but are legal for eventing dressage.

 

Would I recommend this bridle?

 

A big YES!!

 

Overall, I really like this bridle for all the reasons mentioned. I highly recommend it for any type of horse, especially for those that are particularly sensitive or limited in vision.

The Hunt for a New Saddle

After struggling with lots of fitting issues, I ended up buying a new saddle. Teddy has high, narrow withers and huge shoulders. So that made saddle fitting quite a challenge. I really didn’t want to buy a brand new, custom saddle. But my CWD 2GS, which was fitted for Champ, did not fit Teddy and I could not in good conscience continue to ride in a saddle that wasn’t comfortable for him. That’s when the hunt for a new saddle began. At that point, I was getting very frustrated with CWD. I spent over $10k on two saddles for Champ that ended up causing some issues. Not to mention it was very difficult to get a rep out. When I asked what they could do to help make my 2GS fit Teddy, all they could do was widen the panels, which would only make the saddle sit down on his withers and cause him severe pain. So CWD was out of the question. I’m very fortunate to be riding at a school barn where all the horses are fitted with high quality saddles including Tad Coffin, Voltaire, and Stübben. So, I tried some of the school saddles to see if anything fit better than my CWD, and low and behold, one of the Stübben’s ended up working out until I could buy one for Teddy. Meanwhile, I was also looking into Amerigo as I have a great relationship with the owner of a local tack shop in Bedford, Massachusetts, who just so happens to also be the Amerigo rep for New England. It was a toss-up between going with an Amerigo or a Stübben. Eventually I chose a Stübben and I’m so happy that I did. While Amerigo is a great company and the rep is wonderful to work with, I felt there was more Stübben could do for Teddy.

If you asked me two years ago if I would have ever bought a black and white monoflap saddle, I would have said “No way!”  Being at hunter/jumper barns where everyone had some type of French saddle like CWD, Antarés, Voltaire, or Devoucoux, this was quite a change. Stübben saddles ride very differently, and now I know it’s because they hone in on even the smallest details to make sure it fits both horse and rider. Looking back, I was very uncomfortable in many of the French saddles, often getting thrown back and then thrusted too far forward. Now I know it’s because the saddles did not fit the horses it was supposed to, nor where they balanced correctly on the horse. If I had to go back and do everything over again, I would have bought the Zaria Optimum a long time ago for Champ as well.  It is, hands down, the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever ridden in and (in my opinion) the best close contact saddle on the market. Stübben has a great reputation with very knowledgeable fitters. Their saddles are known for being able to fit just about any horse due to their wide range of options for tree sizes.

Huge thank you to Andrea Manley and Stübben for their expertise and high quality saddles. I don’t think Teddy has ever had a saddle as well fitting as this!

 

Teddy (pictured left), a 16hh Nokota, and Sunny (pictured right), 14.2hh Morgan, were both ridden in the same Stübben Portos. As you can see, this saddle fits quite well even though these two have completely different builds.

 

 

Recap of the Groton House 2 Phase

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Used With Permission (Photo credit: Flatlandsphoto)

    Since this was the first show of the season, I decided to enter Teddy in the Beginner Novice instead of Novice. Even though Teddy has zero issues cruising around the 3ft like it’s nothing, he’s not best at dressage. It was probably better I didn’t show higher since I only came with a groom. I want to start off with huge thank you to everyone; from the people that helped run this show to my wonderful grooms. And of course Teddy who helped ease my nerves when I found myself without a trainer in the middle of the show. (Long story which I will explain later in the post.) Even though we left a little disappointed, it was still a great learning experience.

    What’s nice about going to a show that’s only 5 mins from you train is that you can tack up right at the barn. We often do this when we go cross country schooling at Bradley Palmer, which is just down the road from Ascot. It makes it that much less stressful at the show. So that’s what we did. I got Teddy all ready, putting everything on except his bridle. I bathed him the night before, which was a huge mistake because the next morning I found him covered in stains AGAIN!! Since it was a bit chilly the night before, I threw a stable sheet on him. Should have known with the way he decimates his bedding that he would get dirty again. Oh well! Lesson learned. HEADS UP: For those who have greys or horses with lots of chrome, bathe them the day of the show. As hard as it is to get up earlier, you will prevent your horse and yourself unnecessary stress.

    We took my friend Karina’s truck with the two horse trailer to Groton House since Jerry took the large van with several horses to a local hunter show in New Hampshire. Our friend Amanda came to watch and help out as well. Once we got to the show grounds, we got Teddy off and Karina put Teddy’s bridle on while I registered and got our number. By the time I was back at the trailer, he was all ready for the dressage. I hopped on and headed to the dressage warm up area to find my trainer, who I had never met in person before. Jerry sent me to Ferial Johnson, an upper level eventing trainer with many years of experience. She kindly accepted the request to coach me at the show. But unfortunately as it turned out, she was just way too busy with her other students she brought to the show. We hadn’t met prior so I completely understand that she didn’t have the time. In fact, it was good experience for me to go solo. Teddy is a very seasoned horse with years of showing experience and one of the safest horses I’ve ever ridden. So if I have to go without a trainer for my first show on a new horse, Teddy is the perfect horse for that.

There wasn’t much time to warm him up prior to my test, so I made sure to focus on getting his muscles loosened up. Teddy is a naturally fit horse who is tends to self exercise in turnout, so it doesn’t take long for him to feel warmed up. I was so nervous going down the centerline that I wasn’t thinking about the little things that could make or break my dressage score. This was my first show in 3 years, so I was a bit rusty to say the least. We rode a clean test, but it was far from pretty. We got a 40.6, which is not good. But oh well. It’s the first show. There’s time to improve.

On to show jumping! Once dressage was finished, Karina and Amanda took Teddy back to the trailer, untacked him and gave him some water while I headed with Ferial to the show jumping ring to walk the course. She had one last student finishing in dressage, so I walked the course on my own first to see how it will ride. There was a five stride line and a two stride combination with a lot of oxers. Of course, I felt intimidated by all the oxers. I school 1m-1.05m (3’3-3’6) at home, so this should be easy peasy right? Anxiety can be a real pain in the ass sometimes. Regardless though it was a pretty simple, straight forward course. The courses for both Beginner Novice and Elementary are not timed. All you need to do is go clean. Kind of like riding an equitation course, but there’s no one judging you on your position. Ferial and I ended up getting the same amount of the strides, which was a huge confidence booster and made me feel like I sort of knew what I was doing. Teddy knows when he’s in a jumper class and can sometimes get strong. But you never feel like you’re going to get run away with though. He just gets very focused on what he’s doing. He’s the kind of horse that really tries and wants to do well. In true Teddy fashion, he jumps a perfect round, over jumping some of them to make sure he cleared them. Unfortunately with our less than stellar dressage score, we didn’t place. With our clear show jumping round, we went from 11thplace to 9thplace. Good or bad, it’s important to look at each show as a learning experience and take home what you learned in order to improve. Let’s just say we’ve got some work to do on our dressage before the next show.

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My dressage card with the judge’s notes.

 

 

Holiday Gift Ideas 2018

Stuck on what to spoil your two and four legged friends or family members for the holidays?

Here are some gift ideas for 2018 holiday season:

 

Noelle Floyd Insider Subscription: $149 a year to join; includes exclusive videos, articles, exciting new content and of course a full subscription to Noelle Floyd Magazine. Perfect way to keep busy on those long road trips or flying.

Link to Noelle Floyd online magazine:  https://www.noellefloyd.com

Become a NF Insider: 

https://www.noellefloyd.com/pages/become-an-insider

 

Star Stable Star Rider Lifetime Subscription: Yes, I know. This is a game for kids, but I can see how it would appeal to young adults. The graphics are amazing and the storylines are quite interesting, even a bit dark at times. Star Stable takes place on a fantasy island called Jorvik, where you can fuel your horse addiction by purchasing virtual horses with Star Coins (in my case, it’s a warmblood addiction). It’s no surprise that Star Stable was created in Sweden. The virtual landscape definitely has a Scandinavian vibe to it. Every week, Star Stable is updating with new content. When my Lyme Disease is acting up and I can’t get to the barn, I find this a great escape. It’s $74.99 for lifetime subscription. You can also do a monthly subscription for $8.49 or a 3-month subscription for $20.99, but I don’t recommend it if you’re playing it intermittently, as the monthly costs will add up say, you take a break from playing for a while. You can play for free up until level 5, which can give you an idea whether or not Star Stable is for you as you don’t have to commit right away.

Link to Star Stable:

https://www.starstable.com/en/

 

PS of Sweden Bling Click-It Browbands: If you own a PS of Sweden bridle, this is a lovely stocking stuffer for your horse. My personal favorite is the Golden Delight, as it reminds me of autumn.

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PS of Sweden Golden Delight Browband 95 USD 

Photo credit: PS of Sweden

Link to PS of Sweden Website

 

EcoLicious Equestrian Hands On Therapeutic Hand Repair Lotion: Perfect gift to treat your trainer, barn friends, or yourself to, especially if you are prone to cracked dry hands in the winter. This lotion has Certified Organic Hemp oil as well as avocado, banana, and shea butter. It has a sweet orange scent to it that will make your hands smell good. hands_on_high

EcoLicious Hands On Therapeutic Hand Repair Lotion 12.70 USD

Photo credit: EcoLicious Equestrian

 

Custom De La Coeur ear net: I know I’m not the only one that uses ear nets just to keep the flies off. This Canadian company makes gorgeous custom ear nets that look stunning on any horse. You can choose many different color options as well as add crystals or rhinestones. If you have a horse that’s a bit spooky at shows and would benefit from ear muffs, De La Coeur also makes soundproof ones. These are a great alternative to ear plugs, which can be uncomfortable for some horses. If you’re looking for something nice to splurge on, an ear bonnet from De La Coeur is a great choice!

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Photo credit: De La Coeur

If you want to see more of De La Coeur’s gorgeous designs, go check out their Instagram page and give them a follow:  @de_la_coeur

 

 

Any other good holiday gifts? Comment below:

Balancing being a competitive rider while staying true to my roots

Since I was a teenager, I’ve shown on and off on the local hunter/jumper circuits; not too focused on being competitive, but just enjoying the time spent off property. At the time, I rode at Cressbrook Stables, a show barn in West Newbury, Massachusetts that is now located in Alabama. The head trainer, Chelise Storace created what I know now, a very unique environment that was very competitive yet relaxed at the same time. She has had riders that compete all across the A/AA show circuit and also riders who just enjoy taking lessons. I never felt pressured to compete, but I knew I could when I wanted to. Often money played a role. Horse showing is very expensive, and as a teenager then I didn’t have the budget nor the desire to compete extensively. In fact, I dreaded showing due to high anxiety and fear of failure.

It wasn’t until a few years ago at HITS Saugerties that I wanted to compete at a serious level. It was my first time competing at a show that large and I was on a horse that was far from easy. He was a high strung, sensitive gelding with a bad habit of running backwards and sideways when you tried to make contact with his mouth. Not exactly the ideal situation competing in open classes with over 40 riders, including professionals. But in a way, this was the perfect situation that helped me move past my anxiety and fear of failure. I zeroed in on small goals like keeping my horse, Champ, forward and in front of my leg, opening up his stride, and approaching the jumps as smoothly as possible in order to make it easier for him to jump. Even when we took rails down (he was not the most adjustable), the focus came back to “what did we learn today?” I’m one of those people that rise to the occasion when the pressure is taken off me.  Prince Champ brought me back to a place where I could be in the moment. When you board at a big show barn, often (but not always) there is a lot of pressure to compete. Not everyone wants that kind of pressure, even if they are serious competitors. Chelise Storace at Cressbrook Stables and Chrissy Gilbertson at Essex Equestrian Center are head trainers at show barns, but they maintain a relaxed atmosphere that is very hard to come by. In a way, it resembles the kind of environment you would find at a lesson barn.

Currently, I keep my lease horse Teddy at Ascot Riding Center in Ipswich, Massachusetts, where lesson horses are the majority. There are about 10 boarders, including myself; a stark contrast to Cressbrook Stables and Essex Equestrian Center, where there were many more boarders. Right now, I believe Ascot is exactly where Teddy and I need to be, even though they don’t do many shows. I’m using this time as an opportunity to get back to my roots and improve my basics. Learning never stops, whether you are a beginner or an Olympian. I’ve been very fortunate to ride with some very skilled trainers, including Niko von Gumppenberg, a German Grand Prix show jumper in Essex, MA who I credit with taking my flatwork to a whole new level. Jerry Kenney, who’s the owner and head trainer at Ascot, has been helping me improve my position over bigger fences. In less than two months, I went from getting jumped loose at 1m (3ft3) to now staying with Teddy in a balanced, effective position. That’s a true testament to Jerry’s experience of over 50 years teaching. Ascot Riding Center is unique in that it’s not your typical lesson barn. Jerry has created riders who have gone on to be pros at the highest level, including greats like Frank Madden and John Madden. Having one foot in the horse show world and one foot out can sometimes be conflicting, but it’s what’s kept me to my roots, remembering why I do this every day.

Champ and I at HITS Saugerties a 2 years ago:

       Some of the hardest horses make the best teachers and that definitely rings true about Champ. Let’s just say riding courses like these will be much easier with Teddy when we return to HITS next year. We’ll most likely start out in the .65m and .80m since I’ve never shown Teddy before and then move up to the .90m. Can’t wait for 2019 show season!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Review of the EcoGold Secure Saddle Pad

      Searching high and low for a pad that will help keep the saddle in place on a horse with shark fin withers is no easy feat. That is, until I came across EcoGold. Originally, I heard about them a few years ago when I had Champ. Champ did not have the dreaded shark fin withers that caused everything to slide everywhere. At the time, I could only comment how their pads stayed in place without billet straps due to their nonslip sticky grip that maintains contact with the horse’s back as well as how well they wash. I can tell you that EcoGold consistently lives up to it’s name. This is a pad truly worth it’s weight in gold!! A few months ago, I started leasing Teddy, a huge Mustang with true shark finned withers. The saddle slid back and to the right side. I put an EcoGold Secure pad on and it made a world of difference. Both the saddle and pad stay perfectly in place and the saddle only minimally slides to the right. A huge difference from jamming my left heel down to prevent the saddle from slipping too far to the right. This pad is a lifesaver for both Teddy and myself. No question I will be getting more of their pads down the road.

 

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Teddy sporting his new EcoGold Secure XC pad in navy.

 

 

Pros:

  • Non-slip; will help keep your saddle in the correct place
  • Washes very well and actually stays clean, even with white pads (Make sure you use chlorine-free detergent and wash pads with warm water on a gentle cycle. Hang up to dry. DO NOT PUT IN THE DRYER.)
  • They dry quickly
  • Comes in just about every color; they also have shaped pads for hunter/eq horses

Cons:

  • Expensive ($170)
  • Despite them claiming its 100% percent breathable, I don’t notice a difference. My horse still sweats about the same as he would in a normal pad

Would I recommend this product?

YES!! Highly recommend for anyone who has had issues with saddle pads sliding off the horse.

 

 

Unspoken rules in the Equestrian World: White Breeches

Everyone has their own style and preferences. For me, I like the way white breeches flatter my figure. They look sharp and clean up nicely at shows. I also find them practical since I event as well as compete in pure show jumping.

Traditionally in the United States, whites were something you had to earn, worn by riders competing in the Grand Prix and, even then, they were only worn for big money classes or world cup qualifiers. Then, the Junior/AO Jumpers started wearing them in the classics, and now you see riders wearing whites in classics as low as 1 meter. The United States and Canada are the only countries where this unspoken rule carries a lot of weight. Riders in Europe only compete in white breeches, from the tiny .70m jumpers all the way to the grand prix classes. Everyone has their own style and preferences. For me, I never liked the way tan breeches looked on myself. They made me feel more body conscious going into the ring. Regardless of my opinion, the question is, if other countries don’t see a problem wearing whites in lower level events, is it really that big of a deal if we do it here in the United States and Canada?

White breeches are just one example of the many unspoken rules in the American Equestrian sports. While trainers should always set an example for neat and presentable turnout, I feel it’s inappropriate for them to force their views on what constitutes as such. A horse/rider combination can have a traditional turnout that’s ill fitting and a dirt magnet. While another pair could be decked out in flashy, high tech fabric with bling that’s well fitted and clean. The emphasis needs to be focused on what fits well and is comfortable for the rider rather than what will please the trainer. That being said, there are still rules, especially in the hunters and equitation. In section HU128 of the U.S Equestrian rulebook under hunters,

HU128 Attire

  1. Protective headgear. All riders must wear protective headgear. See GR801.2. While competing in a jumping class, if a rider’s chin strap becomes unfastened, the rider may stop, re-fasten the chin strap and continue his/her round without penalty or elimination. A judge may, but is not required, to stop a rider and ask them to refasten a chin strap which has become unfastened, again without penalty to the rider.
  2. Attire. Riders are required to wear conservatively colored coats (black, blue, green, grey or brown) which are free from adornment which in the judge’s opinion is overly distracting. Shirts must have a choker, similar collar or tie. Breeches may be buff, canary, tan, rust or white.
  3. Formal Attire. Riders are required to wear scarlet or dark coats; white shirts with white stock; white, buff or canary breeches. Members of the Armed Services or the Police may wear the Service Dress Uniform.
  4. Inappropriate attire. When management permits Hunter or Hunter/Jumping Seat Equitation riders to ride without jackets, riders must wear traditional, short, or long-sleeved riding shirts with chokers or ties. Polo shirts and full chaps are not permitted except in unjudged warm-up classes. Management or Judge may eliminate an exhibitor who is inappropriately attired.

The rules are similar in the Hunt Seat Equitation section of the rulebook. They are very subjective and that’s the problem with classes judged heavily on looks. At what point does looks become the be all and end all? What about “good riding is good riding”?

 

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While it is important to be neat and tidy for a horse show, you should also be comfortable in what you are wearing.   Photo credit: Natalie Claman

Review of Trust Equestrian Part 2

Riding more frequently and leasing a horse, I’ve been able to test out more Trust bits. Through this process, I’ve noticed positive changes in the horses that went from a metal bit to a Trust Flexi Soft bit. The ones that have trouble accepting contact seek out the bit more without leaning on it. The problem with going to a sharper bit, like a slow twist or a corkscrew, is that it encourages a horse to lean on the bit, therefore getting heavy on the forehand.  Like Bernie Traurig says, you can’t train and cut a horse in the mouth. There’s a video of him talking about bits, which I will share at the bottom of this post. I have used sharper bits with stronger horses before and while I’ve never had an incident where the horse got a cut in the mouth, I can’t imagine horses feel comfortable, especially if it were an everyday training bit. If you were a horse, how would you feel if you had a double twisted wire in your mouth? Horses hate pain and will avoid it at all costs. Trust Equestrian understands this and that’s why I love their bits. A horse will accept contact much better if it’s comfortable in the mouth. Here’s a few success stories I’ve had with the Trust bits:

 

Dylan: 15.2hh Welsh/TB cross

Dylan went in a double-jointed loose ring snaffle with just a simple noseband before switching to either a Trust Flexi Soft d-ring bit or eggbutt with the same bridle. We tried a Nathe bit, which he did fine in on the flat, but was too strong over fences. The d ring was a nice balance without being too much. Dylan has more woah than go. Coupled with a weak hind end from being out of shape and not being asked to engage it consistently, it was hard to ask him to move forward off my leg. While there wasn’t a significant difference as with the next horse, the Flexi Soft d-ring was a great tool in helping Dylan maintain a consistent contact without leaning on it and coming ‘off the bit,’ so to speak.

 

IMG_7788Dylan in the Inno Sense Flexi Soft Eggbutt bit with a CWD anatomic bridle.

 

 

Teddy: 16.2hh Nokota Mustang (low adult jumper)

Teddy is the opposite of the previous horse, in that he is much stronger and quicker. Originally, he was going in a slow twist full cheek with a figure 8 bridle before switching to a Flexi Soft full cheek bit with a flash noseband. My trainer and I were a bit skeptical about whether this would be the right combination. I rode Teddy a couple of years ago in the slow twist and recall having a hard time slowing down. So naturally getting run away with was a concern. But that didn’t end up being the case at all. The first ride in the indoor with the Flexi Soft went extremely well. I was thinking, “this can’t be that easy.” So I brought him to the giant outdoor ring where it was pretty much a guarantee Teddy would be more forward. Still the same horse. Maybe a little bit more forward, but easy peasy to quicken and slow down. At that point I figured I didn’t need anywhere near as much bit as what he was going in before. The difference was amazing. Teddy was softening his jaw and actively seeking out contact. If he ends up being stronger at shows, I can always try something a little stronger but with the same mouthpiece.

IMG_7772Teddy in the Inno Sense Flexi Soft full cheek bit and a CWD Anatomical bridle w/ a flash.

 

Here is the Youtube video of Bernie Traurig discussing bits:

*Look for more educational videos on riding, horse care, and more on the Equestrian Coach Youtube channel*

Review of Trust Equestrian Part 1

I found out about this company a couple of years ago when I was looking for a new bit for my sensitive horse. He had originally been in a Waterford bit, which was too much for him. We had tried traditional single and double jointed snaffle bits, but he ranthrough each one. I couldn’t stop him, let alone touch his mouth until we tried the Trust Inno Sense Flexi Soft bit. What sets this Dutch based company apart from others is that they understand each horse has different needs. Trust Equestrian has three different lines of bits: Sweet Iron, Inno Sense, and Leather. With 20 types of mouthpieces and 29 different types of cheek pieces, you can find what works best for your horse. They are expensive and hard to find in the U.S. I would say they are priced similarly to Herm Sprenger. Trust Equestrian is working to market their bits more in the States in order to make it easier for American clients to purchase.

 

*All Trust bits are handmade and are non toxic/FDA approved.

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Champ at HITS Saugerties using the d-ring Inno Sense Flexi Soft bit.

Photo used with permission by ESI Photography

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Closeup of the same bit.

Pros:

  • High quality, non toxic materials
  • The Flexi Soft bits are especially good for sensitive or young horses.
  • The Flexi Soft bits are even softer than traditional metal bits.

Cons:

  • $$$ expensive
  • Hard to find in the U.S
  • There’s always the chance a horse could chew through the Inno Sense bits, so be careful using them with a horse that’s a bit chewer.
  • May be seen as a gimmick by some ultra conservative American trainers (eg. George Morris) due to the white mouthpiece making it look like a Happy Mouth bit.

Would I recommend: YES!!

These bits are definitely worth the money. Highly recommend for all horses.