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Harbridge Training Aid

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  • Harbridge Training Aid

    Just curious what everyone's opinion is on the Harbridge training aid?? One of my friends bought some in Europe and let me borrow them. I used them probably once every six months or less. I personally like them a lot better than draw reins because my horse couldn't lean on them. They don't seem to have gained any popularity here in the US.

    Anyone else had any experience with them?

  • #2
    Looks pretty dangerous and a bit nasty if you ask me.
    chaque pas est fait ensemble


    • #3
      I'm not generally a fan of any gadgets that aren't directly connected to my own hands. I want control over exactly how much pressure is exerted, when and in what direction. In the UK at least you don't often see the Harbridge used by dressage trainers. I've actually seen bungees more often, though I'm not keen on those either.

      As a forthcoming slew of posters will no doubt suggest, there are probably better ways to improve your horse's way of going. Out of curiosity, what exactly is the problem you're aiming to fix with the Harbridge?
      Proud COTH lurker since 2001.


      • #4
        You have got to be kidding me.

        Besides the fact that it's a disaster waiting to happen, it's encouraging the horse to go incorrectly. It's pulling the nose down and back and prevents the horse from stretching and reaching INTO the contact.

        No. Just no.
        Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
        Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
        VW sucks.


        • #5
          They're not bad for lunging when you want to encourage the horse to reach down, but a chambon is a much better tool for that because the horse can stretch forward too.

          ETA: They have to be fairly loose even lunging though. Think standing martingale adjustment loose.


          • #6
            Believe it or not, it's not the harshest of "devices" commonly used over here... mostly by the "showing" fraternity (a cousin to American hunters/breed shows). Many of them honestly believe that training is about "getting the head in".
            Proud COTH lurker since 2001.


            • Original Poster

              I had a feeling there wouldn't be a lot of good comments.. I used them on my old horse 3-4 times in the 4 years I was riding her. I am not a huge fan of gadgets by any means but they were suggested to me when we were having a particularly bad day. I thought of them the other day and was wondering if anyone else had any experience.

              Doesn't sound like anyone has used them. Maybe for good reason, but they seemed to help me more than draw reins! Thanks for the replies


              • #8
                I was a skeptic too, but have found a use inlimited application

                Originally posted by warmbloodlover11 View Post
                I had a feeling there wouldn't be a lot of good comments.. I used them on my old horse 3-4 times in the 4 years I was riding her. I am not a huge fan of gadgets by any means but they were suggested to me when we were having a particularly bad day. I thought of them the other day and was wondering if anyone else had any experience.

                Doesn't sound like anyone has used them. Maybe for good reason, but they seemed to help me more than draw reins! Thanks for the replies
                A student of mine came up with this device in the early 2000 years, and (at vast expense) had it shipped from England the the west coast of the US.

                I did a bit more than my share of eye rolling and what-nowing?

                But, when I came back a few weeks later I noticed quite a bit of improvement in his horses. He had followed the directions--very loose at first and only on the longe. All his horses had chronic head flipping, and above the vertical due to his bad hands which, believe me, I was attempting to work on. After work in the Harbridge the horses were more forgiving and more certain of the direction they were supposed to go. There was in fact no pulling down created, just more roundness and stretching. I actually saw a good many benefits over side reins.

                Good points.
                *The horse was not limited at all side to side.
                *The lower the head (by lowering the neck) the more open at the poll the horse could be.
                *The horse could go high with very little pressure as long as they flexed at the pole.
                *Once very gradually and correctly accustomed, the horses seemed to like it and find the feedback intuitive--very much more so than an amateur rider with difficult hands and too many clinicians yelling "Head down!!! RounderrounderrounderROUNDER!!!"

                Bad Points.
                *Stretchy, but obviously dangerous (just like side reins) if the horse got tangled up or did not know what to do to respond to pressure.
                *The lack of a neck strap is on purpose, but I'd want a string or something to keep the strap from going totally to the ground should the horse really strongly lower the head. (I never saw it happen, but I'd worry about putting a foot over in play or odd movement.)

                For a time with my very amateur students I trained all the horses to respond to them because they were a lot less dangerous than riding in side reins, a lot less prone to abuse than draw reins, and as a previous poster noted really impossible to lean on. Obviously one other draw back --and that is true of all artificial aids--one skips the learning process from the rider's end, and that needs to be filled in. But perhaps if makes it easier fro some stages. Just my experience--I am sure mileage (and opinions) will vary.


                • #9
                  I remember seeing pictures in old books (Victorian age) of a standing martingle attached directly to the bit. Even then, after long observation, the majority of the authors who commented on this considered it a BAD IDEA to use while riding a horse.

                  I'd bet after throwing its head up wearing this contraption, particularly with a bad stumble, that the horse could give its bars a bad bruise, leading to having a painful "lighter" mouth. With this training aid a horse could give itself, by accident, a much stronger blow to its mouth than most riders, even the most brutal, can give with their hands.

                  To me, a sensitive mouth that has never been bruised by a bit is something to treasure.


                  • #10
                    If you have an issue with head up, use a degogue. It won't have all of the problems this thing does, and you don't have residual after effects.

                    I see draw reins as useless as well as side reins when ridden.


                    • #11
                      All his horses had chronic head flipping, and above the vertical due to his bad hands which, believe me, I was attempting to work on. After work in the Harbridge the horses were more forgiving and more certain of the direction they were supposed to go.
                      Serious rider problem if as you say all his horses were head flipping because of his bad hands. In this case it would be better to go back to fixing the rider before taking this approach. It's not fair to the horses nor is it good training to require them to be 'forgiving' of rough hands.