So... I have a new pony. I argued with myself for a while between a cob mare i liked and a sec B i liked, and i ended up with the sec B. Which meant a new harness. I bought a used bio country carriages, an older one, doesnt have the new cut back crown on the bridle, and it's a straight breast collar, but it all fits... Sort of.
New pony, Lilly, has been fabulous. I've been ground driving her everywhere in her riding bridle in a 4 1/4" bit that she seems very happy in. I bought her a mullen mouth half cheek, a cheapie to try it out, but went with a 4.5" and it was too big... She's also big on putting her tongue over the bit... So i ended up custom ordering a 4 1/4" Glory liverpool for her. While waiting for it, we've kept working in her D ring but i could not wait for a little curb control to fine tune the speed cause i feel like i'm hauling on her all the time in the snaffle...
Anyway, new bit is here, so today i put it on her driving bridle, her first time with that on, so i'm trying to adjust it all. I'm gonna have to put half holes between the holes everywhere because it's either too loose and her tongue is over the bit or it's so dang tight you cant peel it off her and she's fussy. The browband digs into her ears yet its where it needs to be to center the blinkers on her eyes. From a distance, it all fits, but up close i'm just so frustrated with it. Not to mention that on her, or maybe it's this particular bridle, it is so incredibly plasticy and non-forgiving. My cob size is not like this, it's a much softer bio, so it could be the different between an older model and a new one.
I'm about ready to toss it and buy a leather one. But browsing around, the only leather one i've found with a cut back crown is a Smuckers Deluxe at $470... Next year i was planning on getting her a new harness and selling this one, this was just to get her going, but i'm not financially able to get a new one this winter... A new bridle possibly though, but pushing $500 for a tiny pony size bridle... ummmm....
She seems to like the Glory, sat very happily with it in her mouth while i yanked on her face for 45min playing with this bridle, but i really wish the bridle hanger bit on it angled out a little. The mouth piece itself is perfect size, but her face gets wider and the nose band wants to sit right under the top of that bit and it makes it a tad snug on her face there. She was ok with it, but me being picky, it was another thing i was mad at. Of course, she's got winter hair taking up space too, i'm about ready to buzz her!
I REALLY like this little pony, she has taken to everything i've thrown at her like she was born doing it, riding wise too. I've had her not quite 2 months and we are walk/trot/canter under saddle, dragging tires and PVC shafts everywhere, walk trot canter ground driving. She's just been awesome for a 3yr old. I dont want to make her uncomfortable and cranky. I'm so ticked with this bridle though, but aside from the smuckers, is there another one out there similar to that? Should i ditch the bio i love and go for leather to fit her nicer with some "stretch" to it? There are bio options with the cut back crown, but i still dont know if that will help the browband not be in her ears. The cheek piece buckle has to be on the top hole to center the blinkers... This is a pony size bridle, next step down and she's in a mini and the sizing will be real off. Maybe she has to go totally custom on it... $$$
So today, i've got the bridle blues... Guess it goes with the dreary windy day outside. The upside, even though it was all too tight to keep her from putting her tongue over the bit and not having a hole smaller to loosen it up just a smidge that she really needed... She was so light on my hands with a bit of curb. THANK YOU LORD! I was able to back off her rushing walk with just a squeeze of my fingers. She's very good with voice commands, but we just didnt seem to get the EASY yet to slow us down a bit. I think i finally got my answer to that with a little bit of curb. Dont think she'll need it set on the bottom hole of the liverpool ever, but the hole right below the ring might be an answer to prayer!
For the bit you can CAREFULLY bend the top of the bit out. If you can heat it some it will be easier, but it can be done relativly easily. I usually use a vise to hold the end you want to bend and use the bit as a handle and bend very slowly.
Being in PA you should have access to amish harness shops. Find one that looks like they do nice work, take down a bridle you like and have them make a new one in the size you want. I go to a harness maker near me that will make a very nice, custom bridle for ~$125 - that was for my current show bridles. He also makes VERY nice harnesses, some have won at Walnut Hill, for a reasonable price. He is near Angelica, NY if that would work for you.
I can get you his mailing address if your interested.
Our horses are hard to fit, proportions are just not common. So we measured and ordered harness to fit. Some stuff they had to custom make, while other pieces were usable "off the rack" in the correct sizes.
The bridles were and are, especially interesting. They can wear Full size in riding bridles, but need the Oversize browbands. Sometimes need the Oversize cavessons to fit larger heads.
Saddle shopping I have to be real careful to get short lengths, because they are all close coupled. But they are wearing 84" blankets, stand 16-17H. We buy or breed them to be very close in body sizes, so thankfully the parts from one horse will fit the others well.
For your pony, I would probably try a larger browband first. Take off the one you have now, just put the headstall on her. Then measure where want headstall to lay, across her forehead. Those small muzzle, cute head horses OFTEN have very wide foreheads, need a size up to be comfortable.
Are you having trouble with bit rings holding the headstall on your new curb bit? I didn't read it that way, because bridle hanger bit, to me is a separate bit! If the bit rings are too narrow, but mouthpiece fits, you could ask Farrier or the local Welding shop to bend out the rings as Christa suggested. I would ONLY recommend doing bending with heat. Sides are cast, can easily crack or fracture, enough to break off. Forged steel is different, but you seldom find forged bit parts without paying big bucks for it. Cast bit parts are just much cheaper to produce. The flaring out of skull above lips is pretty common with Fjords, Haflingers, and the Welsh types. You sure don't want any skin pinching between teeth and bit top. Husband does a number of bit fix-its, for horses with heads like that.
As for the tongue over, I would actually loosen the bit setting, so mouthpiece is slightly loose in her mouth. What we DON'T do is stop to fix any tongue over while we are driving! Horse got it over, he can get it back under if bit is not up real tight in his mouth. We may even ask some HARD stuff, tight circles, lots of changes of direction when we see tongue over. Tongue over is SUPPOSED to be uncomfortable, NOT rewarded with a stop to fix it, has to keep working!
We have NEVER had any luck with tightening the headstall so his smile reaches his eyeballs, adding a flash, cranking down the cavesson to the last hole. Doing those things WILL PREVENT horse being able to fix his own problem, so eventually you will need to help him with tongue over.
A training step we do early, is bridling with a ring snaffle, jointed mouthpiece. Let bit be sort of loose fitted, but not hitting front teeth. Then on to feeding horse dinner, hay and grain, while wearing the bridle. Horse wears bridle an hour or two, then it comes off. This goes on a couple weeks, horse learns to manage the mouthpiece to eat and drink. Bridling and mouthpiece turn into a big nothing deal. You can wrap the mouthpiece with fruit rollup halves This rewards horse bridling, usually they are quickly opening mouth to be bridled! Lots of licking, mouthing the bit, movement of the jaw, tongue. Our horses will get tongue over and LEARN to put tongue back under the mouthpiece while wearing the bridle for those longer times. Gives them the skills needed to manage. Sometimes horse just HAS to drink while bridled, he knows how, relaxed about doing it from your bucket.
You PROBABLY should be ready to put your finger in mouth to remove the bridle after dinner. Kind of like old chewing gum, gets tiring with bit hanging, so they often decide to clamp down on it. Can be HARD to get them to open without the finger trick. You don't want to bang any teeth if he throws head up while trying to get bit out. Finger in the lip corner, get his mouth opening and bit usually slips out easily.
I just learned that pencil tip soldering irons are very nice for making holes in synthetic harness. Start from the inside of strap going away from horse. Then be sure to quickly press the lumps smooth while warm, so there no rough spot where you exit the strap. Metal ruler was a suggested pressing tool on a flat tile. Sounds a LOT better than the hot nail, I will be checking out the solder irons. Be safe with such tools, they get EXTREMELY hot. Unplug when finished.
See if you can find a driver nearby who HAS a shaped crownpiece close to your pony size
trace that and take it to an Amish harness shop to copy
We had Becky Zimmerman make shaped crowns for our big boyz
gave us a nice fit for the bridle and still gave room to get over their large noggins - especially their poll knobs
They are very happy with the ear room
AND you almost defnitely need a larger browband
Just measure as GH says - placing bridle sans brow - and measure for new brow
Better too big than too small
but what if there is no room for the browband to fit between the cheek piece buckle and her ears? The rosette is at the crease in her ear. The cheekpieces are on the top hole and have to be or the blinkers are too low on her face, but this puts the browband into her ears. Yes, a browband a little bigger would be good, but i still dont know if it solves the fit issue for this bridle. I can pull my cob's off her bridle and try it though, she's off for a few more months yet, not like she needs it.
I did put more holes in the bridle tonight, i'll see if that helps me tomorrow. I cant bend out the top bridle hanger on the Glory bit, it would have to be heated up and done professionally. It would be nice to have done though. But if i can get the noseband up a half a hole, it should clear it. Hopefully adding holes fixed that, i'll see tomorrow.
I just left PA a few weeks ago and i'm in IL right now till March, then i'm in Aiken till Aug. There is an amish community nearby, Arthur, might be some harness makers that way. I do not know any local drivers. I grew up here, i know all the local dressage community, the QH people, the saddlebred and arab people, but no drivers aside from some breed show fine harness people. Would love to meet some if they are here, but locally, i think i'm a rare bird...
Seems like Arthur is where Cartfall (who comes by the board now and again) gets her synthetic harnesses made by an Amishman. She has recommended his work in the past, said it was quite reasonably priced. She has posted about the cart transport frames that fit on trailer backends, to locate her. Maybe give her a PM to ask for name and number to get a bridle made.
Does sound like the cheekpieces are too long. Eyes need to be centered in the blinkers. If top buckles are that high by her ears, cheeks are just too long. Sometimes a tweak will work on stuff, but sometimes you just have to get an item that fits animal correctly.
I'll pm cartfall, seems I remeber her or someone mentionng Arthur as well. I forgot to say thanks for the tongue over the bit advice. I'll have to be mean and leave the bit loose and not fix it when she does it. I'm not comfortable leaving it on her in the stall, the bucket hangers scare me about getting caught on it.
She only does the tongue over the bit when ground driving, never when riding.
Well just an update. With the added holes, i was able to get the bridle to fit right with the Cob brow on it. Ordering a matching browband for it since my cob size has a brass chain and her harness is black with brown and stainless... Glad it will get me through the winter though. I really like the look of the Ideal bridle for her, so i think i might leave my wonderful bio for an Ideal harness for her next year.
Now, for the tongue over the bit issue, i'm leaving the bit just a little loose, where she seems comfortable with it, and ignoring her when she gets it wrong. I did have to stop and fix her once when she started to panic about it and got us both twisted in the ground driving lines... But otherwise, she's figured it out herself a few times and i'm hoping we'll get over it with time. She seems to like the Glory bit and has had some great foamy lips the past couple days. So i'm real happy about that!
we have browband drama ALL the time with the Welsh...
I wonder sometimes if the taper to the nose messes up the dimensions of the browband in computer programs...we all know these are handmade any more...like the computers don't get that a full foreheads taper to such small noses??