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Should I just become a granola dressage rider?

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  • Should I just become a granola dressage rider?

    My horse has impulsion, supple, light and easy.... and absolute dream never without a smile....



    when i ride without anything on his head. no bridle, no bit, not halter.... nuthin.
    saddle makes no difference, he could take it or leave it (and i own 6)
    SI, HI, LY, HP (to the left only), upward from a stand still, downwards easy peasy all without tack.

    i have a box of bits
    teeth been checked by more than 1 vet
    thousands of $ spent on vet, chiro, massage, lymph drainage yada yada yada.
    feet are in excellent shape
    i ride with 2 BNT level instructors (but not on my horse... that's my next step)
    everything else i ride becomes butter, even the haflinger cross will get supple thru his ribcage...

    in a bridle i can get contact, i can get forward, but i cannot get lightness in his feet and softness thru his jaw. even when his back is lifted and he is engaging thru his hind quarters that dang horse will not bring his nose in, or lift the base of his neck (unless we are at a walk, then all is fantabulous). if i half halt he inverts, when i drive more to get more ass into the bridle he gets footy. but get this plain eggbutt is his fav bit (havent tried a mullen, another next step) and he has the white lipstick
    i am about to throw in the headgear and call myself a granola rider, it's been YEARS of this and no one can figure it out. i can ride a test sans tack and jump a course sans tack.
    this horse threw everyone but me, so should i just call myself lucky and be glad i get what i get?
    halp?
    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
    chaque pas est fait ensemble

  • #2
    Hey,

    Well, it's impossible to tell without looking at the horse but...

    ...I'm sure he's light and easy without a bridle but I'm not convinced he's actually through.

    If you can get contact and forward, that's step one. But there ARE horses out there who are stiff in the poll and/or who are strong in the contact despite the training. I've know some phenomenally well-bred horses who are like this. Perhaps you have one. These horses can be very tricky to ride because you have to retrain their first reaction (to hollow or be stiff or be lethargic or invert, etc.). I'm not convinced that all can be retrained to be "light" if it's not their nature. If he likes the eggbut, then he likes the stability at his cheeks. Great, you are finding out what he likes. It sounds like you've done a lot of tackless riding and he likes it or is used to it. It also sounds like if you've spent thousands on lymph drainage, chiro and massage, there's an underlying issue with the horse. What do they collectively say about him?

    I think riding with a really good trainer can help you figure out what's going on with the horse. But I'd aim for consistent help since sometimes, clinicians can't fathom that the horse is actually difficult and might blame you.

    In addition, if the horse has thrown everyone but you, the bridleless rider, has he been to a vet school or a really good vet clinic? Perhaps he has something like kissing spines or central skeletal or soft-tissue issues or something that prevents him from being comfortable collecting/being on the bit? I've known two horses recently diagnosed with sophisticated approaches that were not diagnosed with standard vet office diagnostics.

    But like I've said, I've known horses who simply aren't into dressage. If you've exhausted the health angle, maybe you have a horse who, even despite breeding, just isn't a light-footed kind of guy when a) ridden and/or b) ridden into contact. Wouldn't be the first, believe me. Finding a qualified trainer who has "been there" on this kind of horse can be invaluable.

    Horses should come with an "easy button", like the office depot commercials!

    J.
    Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

    Comment


    • #3
      try the mullen.....mine fusses like the dickens in ANYTHING with a joint! also likes a hanging cheek mullen, please....right now he's in a pelham w/ no curb chain or lower rein.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks for your replies!
        the thousands on massage lymph and chiro is over the course of the 7 years i have owned him. Chiropractically he does have recurring issues in his atlas and the kinesiologist has me massaging his TMJ, in hopes of improvement (this has been 2 months of massage by moi), chiro thought for years that the barely there (and i mean most good eyed horse folk can't see it, but i can feel it) tightness in his left hind was due to sacrum, but it got completely better once the lymph drainage was done to his inner left thigh (am massaging that too)... so go figure. My lymph guy lives in TX and i havent found anyone here in GA that does that.... ? anyone?
        He can touch his tail in both directions with carrot stretches, and can put his nose on his girth inbetween his legs. palpating his body there is no soreness. During rides, after 10 minutes of warmup, if i reach up and massage where the browband and crown intersect he'll lick and chew, so i am guessing that area gets tight.

        he's an unraced ottb (tatooed but no record), that was purchased by previous owner to become a polo pony, I got him because he tossed all the pros, (he's not acrobatic about it, he'll just run away til you bail or get jossled off... my guess is despite his speed ability his attitude kept him from being a racehorse) and i stayed on, so they gave him to me. I got him at 7, he's turning 14.

        He is a very "mental" horse in that riding him really makes you think. and for him the less tack the better. he is kind of weird in that he really dislikes a padded dressage bridle (no flash), but he tolerates my courbette flat raised bridle alot better.... i considered doing a comfort poll, but if he hates padding... he also prefers heavier reins (hates webbed, likes plaited)
        the equibridle he hates, hates anything with a curbchain, hates mylars (tried 3), REALLY hates the bitless bridle (dr cook or something?) i can ride him in a nylon halter and it's no different than riding him in a bridle comfort wise for him. Free lunging he's amazing, you can put his feet exactly where you want, put a bridle or halter on and attach a lunge line he becomes a buck farting noonie head.
        Without anything on his head he really is content. transitions are better, more supple thru his ribcage, he'll track straighter.

        I am going to try an eggbutt mullen this weekend (if the tack store a. has one and b. is open) could i save $25 and just try a straight bar pelham with just a snaffle rein and no curb chain?, and my next bit step after that would be a baucher (more bit stability) and am working on getting him to the barn where i take lessons with the top trainers (one is ex junior olympics <now in her 40's> and the other is an old jumper training buddy of Michael Matz) I know my eyes on the ground are good ones. Perhaps if i ask my trainer really nicely, she'll come to my boarding barn for a christmas gift...

        And really if he's got constant recurring pain issues that cant be resolved in his poll, i am totally okay with being the "granola gal" and reserving my bridle work for the several other horses i have access to. i am just at the point of 'is my goal unattainable? Am i focusing one something that i should just drop?'

        What he wants to do is jump (i must admit i enjoy it too) and he's darn good at it... but i know in order for us to be REALLY good, our dressage foundation needs to be solid. Having that strong dressage foundation also protects his joints because then i know he's jumping correctly. My goal for my horse and i is for us to work as a team to our potential. If his highest potential involves sticking his nose out, that's fine... it's just when is it 'okay' to give up on such a simple goal of "lift the base of your neck and be soft thru your poll and jaw in a bridle" ?
        www.destinationconsensusequus.com
        chaque pas est fait ensemble

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm no expert, but if even a halter bothers him, it sounds like he finds poll pressure very painful. Have you tried one of those "2-ear" western bridles (no nose band or brow band, just the loops around the ears and cheek pieces) with maybe a happy-mouth mullen? If that works for him, I believe it's perfectly legal for dressage, even though untraditional.
          Stay me with coffee, comfort me with chocolate, for I am sick of love.

          Comment


          • #6
            Petstorejunkie, I know this probably isn't what you want to hear and I'm not going to play around and make it sound politically correct, either. I think you need to work with a trainer who is very experienced in classical, good old regular dressage, no gimmicks, no tricks, no short cuts, nothing magic, nothing esoteric or glamorous, just plain old practical sensible dressage. Not a couple lessons here and there from different people or clinics here and there. Settle on one person who's good, stick with that person and work with them often, and just get into a regular routine and program that you are going to simply decide to stay with and believe in.

            and allow yourself to be taught by someone, and have an open mind to what they say, and try very hard to do what they tell you, and I think conquering these problems is going to involve you needing to discard a lot of the ideas you have about what a correct ride feels like and what you're trying to achieve.

            When I read your words I am convinced that you are not on the right track. It is not some assumption I'm making out of the clear blue sky, it's what you write that causes me to have that feeling.

            When you describe what feeling you're trying to go for and what you're trying to achieve, it just does not sound right - your method or the feel you want to get. Work with a good instructor frequently, and prepare to change, if you want to get thru these problems. If you stick with the same ideas and methods you will continue to have trouble.

            "that dang horse will not bring his nose in, or lift the base of his neck (unless we are at a walk, then all is fantabulous). if i half halt he inverts, when i drive more to get more ass into the bridle he gets footy"

            This sounds very wrong especially the part about it being great at a walk and not good at the other gaits, but it is the classic problem that people have when they try to do dressage without getting enough supervision, you are not alone. Even so, tHis still isn't the right way to go about doing dressage. Get instruction. The biggest barrier to improving in riding is a reluctance to change oneself.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by slc2 View Post
              Petstorejunkie, I know this probably isn't what you want to hear and I'm not going to play around and make it sound politically correct, either. I think you need to work with a trainer who is very experienced in classical, good old regular dressage, no gimmicks, no tricks, no short cuts, nothing magic, nothing esoteric or glamorous, just plain old practical sensible dressage. Not a couple lessons here and there from different people or clinics here and there. Settle on one person who's good, stick with that person and work with them often, and just get into a regular routine and program that you are going to simply decide to stay with and believe in.

              and allow yourself to be taught by someone, and have an open mind to what they say, and try very hard to do what they tell you, and I think conquering these problems is going to involve you needing to discard a lot of the ideas you have about what a correct ride feels like and what you're trying to achieve.

              When I read your words I am convinced that you are not on the right track. It is not some assumption I'm making out of the clear blue sky, it's what you write that causes me to have that feeling.

              When you describe what feeling you're trying to go for and what you're trying to achieve, it just does not sound right - your method or the feel you want to get. Work with a good instructor frequently, and prepare to change, if you want to get thru these problems. If you stick with the same ideas and methods you will continue to have trouble.

              "that dang horse will not bring his nose in, or lift the base of his neck (unless we are at a walk, then all is fantabulous). if i half halt he inverts, when i drive more to get more ass into the bridle he gets footy"

              THis isn't the right way to go about doing dressage. Get instruction.
              I really appreciate your comments and your honesty. I am in weekly lessons on a lesson horse with a former junior olympian. these arent folks i have clinics with, they are people that are part of my horsey inner circle. Unfortunatley my horse lives an hour away from where i lesson, so getting the horse to the master has been an issue that i am putting on A priority to be resolved.
              I know that what is quoted above sounds backwards (riding front to back), and honestly reading it I can see how from that statement it sounds as if I am riding my horse backwards, but i dont. It's me voicing frustration in a bacassward way i suppose. If someone here posted about how frustrated they are their horse wont bring their nose in, i'd draw the same conclusion you did.

              here is a run down of my normal ride routine, you tell me if you still have the same opinion (not being snarky, just asking)
              10 minutes of head to toe grooming, and tack up. Horse is coming in from about 12 hours of turnout on 15 acres when we begin.
              Mount using mounting block and do one lap in each direction on the buckle without stirrups, mental focus on steady deep breathing, relaxing energy down my leg, allowing it to drape, keeping equal weight in my seatbones. hips are loose and rolling. After a lap in each direction without stirrups i then work on taking his walk from medium to free walk by engaging my seat for legnthen, and relaxing for medium. Once that's going well and he's lose and responsive, i pick up my stirrups and shorten the reins to where there is REALLY light light contact (like holding the rein with your thumb 8" from the buckle) continue with lengthen and shorten of walk and then i start walking some circles, spirals, and then fron a circle to a shoulder in on the rail.
              Once that is going fab, ill do some posting trot on the rail. rein on the buckle or in that slightly shorter position. Do that for a few minutes in each direction. 30 seconds of walk on the buckle, then slowly while driving forward using seat and leg, I take up contact. If he slows or shortens his step, i'll ask for more forward with my body, if no response, i back off of contact to the level it was before the footiness, and try again slowly. Once he has accepted full contact (which i consider to be 2lb) we do a few circles and spirals serpentines teardrop circle teardrop exercises to get his ribcage supple while in contact. Once that occurs I ask for trot in contact. If stiff or inverts I will usually do some canter work on a looser rein, asking his shoulders/front end to lift, then we try the trot again.
              Usually at this point his underneck will soften but not his poll and he'll get "lipstick" I usually dont ask him to keep this up for more than a few minutes.
              If at this point i dont achieve the above we go back to barely contact rein and if i am lucky he'll stretch his neck down to knee height and point his nose outward... but that has only been a new development in the last month at the trot.
              If all else fails to get the ride to end on a good note, i'll either take the bridle off, or we'll do more walk work til he is soft and accepting 2lb bit contact readily.
              That's the baseline workout, usually takes 45 minutes or so. Added to that is canter work of serpentines, figure eights with simple changes, canter cavalettis, trot cavalettis, transitions, leg yields, or a pattern from a book. I try not to do any specific activity for more than 5 minutes so that i can keep his attention.

              Anything stick out to you as a possible cause?

              I would think it was something in my riding if i had issues with other horses, but i can ride horses of all levels, breeds, and sizes without issue.
              www.destinationconsensusequus.com
              chaque pas est fait ensemble

              Comment


              • #8
                Well.....

                If he really just wants to jump, you could bag the dressage, toss on a hackamore and do the jumpers. You can work on your jumping without having your horse be a broke to death dressage horse. It helps and is lovely to have, but you can still be safe at the lower levels and your horse can have FUN without being at first level or truly connected. What you might find is that once he is having fun with what he's doing he may be more willing to indulge you in your flat work. Or not. I own the OTTB that does not like jumping and loves dressage... go figure... I was trying for an event horse. Next goal is first level before I'm too old to get on ;-)
                Shoulders back, hands down, leg ON!

                https://clshrs3.wixsite.com/website

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by mellsmom View Post
                  If he really just wants to jump, you could bag the dressage, toss on a hackamore and do the jumpers. You can work on your jumping without having your horse be a broke to death dressage horse. It helps and is lovely to have, but you can still be safe at the lower levels and your horse can have FUN without being at first level or truly connected. What you might find is that once he is having fun with what he's doing he may be more willing to indulge you in your flat work. Or not. I own the OTTB that does not like jumping and loves dressage... go figure... I was trying for an event horse. Next goal is first level before I'm too old to get on ;-)
                  I second this. My mare is kind of similar to the OP's horse. She goes OKAY in a bit (and we've tried lots), but hands down, she is at her best with a mech hack on her face. And hey, if that's what she wants, far be it from me to stop her. We don't show either, so I guess that makes it a bit different.
                  Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    and for me it's not about the ribbons, heck i show maybe 2 times a year at local stuff. We both have fun jumping, and I can ride a training level test without tack....with is another story

                    is it okay to be okay with just that?

                    I think i am conflicted because one part of me says meh, go have fun, as long as you are balanced who cares! dress up like some crazy druid and gallop the country side.. but the other side of me is the preserver of tradition, the perfectionist, that refuses to buy zip tall boots, and goes to sleep to the mantra of forward, straight, supple, contact rinse repeat. yes part of me is one of those that scolds students for dirt on their boots.

                    How do you cope with knowing dressage and it's value, and owning a horse that could give a damn?

                    BTW, I am really loving all the suggestions and perspectives i am getting. Please keep them coming, good or bad
                    www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                    chaque pas est fait ensemble

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                      and for me it's not about the ribbons, heck i show maybe 2 times a year at local stuff. We both have fun jumping, and I can ride a training level test without tack....with is another story

                      is it okay to be okay with just that?
                      You bet it is. Why spend money on tack that your horse doesn't like, just to go spend more money on dressage shows, if you don't particularly care about ribbons and competition? Many of us show for a kind of validation -- we use the show atmosphere and judgment to gauge whether we can truly perform at the level we think we've attained. It gives us perspective on our at-home training. But if you enjoy your horse without that kind of input, and are simply looking for a little theoretical validation of the path you and your horse have chosen, you have it here.

                      I too like MellsMom's suggestion of showing in the jumpers if that will scratch your travel and competition itch.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If you don't wanna show - save the $$ and spend it on clinics if you need validation. Most decent clinicians are going to tell you what's OK and what's not OK.....

                        Or - like you said - dress up like a druid and go gallop across the countryside! If your horsie ain't happy - you ain't gonna be happy neither!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I think the non-showing contingency on this bulletin board REALLY distorts things on many posts like this and frankly, on many other topics, such as twisting around the 'buy the best horse you can' article by Sydnor.

                          The message here is 'if you're having trouble getting something done on horseback, just don't show'. If you can't control your horse, stay out of the public eye.

                          This isn't an issue of forgoing shows and having more fun with horsey out in nature. This horse is uncomfortable. Every time the rider tries to simply half halt, it inverts, the horse is only at ease at a walk. Not half halting and only walking is a pretty crazy way of dealing with this problem. The rider simply will not have control of the horse.

                          This is NOT about just giving up shows and having fun to me at all. With these problems, the rider will also have trouble 'just having fun' with the horse out on the trails or anywhere else.

                          Petstorejunkie, if you want to resolve these problems, you need to take riding lessons. If your current schedule of lessons is not working at solving this problem, you need to change it - take more lessons, switch instructors, get to a place where the horse is on suitable footing to be responding to any training attempts. Your statements about what you're trying to do and what's happening are very, very common, and while it is often the way people start out in dressage, it just doesn't work long term, either as a hobby or as far as the underlying control and safety on the horse.

                          Basic dressage is not about horse shows and ribbons. It is about being in control of the horse and being safe. On the trails, in the ring, anywhere.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            many think that dressage is being safe and in control of a horse that is 'on the bit'....and don't wanna have anything to do with a horse that isn't wearing one of same...

                            if one is trying to use a bit on a horse that will have nothing to do with a bit - that isn't going to get anywhere lessons or no lessons.....

                            a horse with a REAL aversion to a bit (as opposed to one that's just yanking your chain or one that just hasn't found the 'right' bit yet) will get worse and worse when somebody attempts to train it w/ a bit in it's mouth.

                            same w/ drilling flat work.....some horses reall like it - some HATE it and doing more of it doesn't make it any better. those horses aren't cut out for what most people think of as 'dressage'....but that doesn't mean that their riders aren't safe and in control.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think you should get regular lessons On This Horse before you give up. It sounds like you are trying to get him in at your trainer's barn for a regular program, and I think that’s a good decision. Getting their insight/professional advice is the best way to determine whether or not your goals are obtainable with this horse.

                              When I started working with my current dressage trainer, I took my younger horse, thinking I could "translate" what we did with him to my other horse. And I did, and we improved quite a bit. Then, after taking the "other" to a local dressage show and doing well with him, my dressage trainer encouraged me to alternate bringing both horses. Wow. So glad I did that. While their problems are similar (uh, ME and my bag of problems), they need separate approaches and she's been able to help me discern the best approach. I'm stating this just to encourage you to get lessons on this horse. Taking lessons is great; taking the lessons on the horse you have goals with is priceless.

                              I'm just typing from my perspective, I'm not a pro, and I have no illusions about my expertness. But, I understand the frustration of not being able to get a horse to go no the bit consistently and happily. I found that if I let him off the hook, he'd expect and even demand to go around like a gazelle. When I read your post, it sounds like me before my current trainer got a hold of me. "Oh poor baby, this is hard, let's quit." I'm not saying we ripped his face off, hold him into a frame, or don’t let him stretch. Nothing like that—just plain ol’ dressage work. If he came above the bit, I fixed it. If he slowed down, I moved him forward. If he barged throw my reins, I halted him. When he is good, I let him stretch. They will have all types of reactions while they figure this out. But, they have to be submissive to the bit, and it takes a good trainer to help a rider figure it out.

                              My young horse still looks for a way 'out the door' and if he catches me snoozing up there, boy am I in trouble. It’s an on-going process, but when I think back to how things were going six months ago, I see a drastic improvement, both with him and myself. He’s certainly a happier horse too.

                              Good luck, in whatever you decide to do.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Some horses can really just not give a rip about dressage. Sold my gelding because he was one. Yes, we worked through it, but he was not happy doing flat work. So, I sold him to a kid to have a really broke hunter.

                                Sometimes you have to listen to the horse more than just what you want to do. That is not a cope out, that is being a good steward of the horse. Just like if your child hates gymnastics, but loves playing the flute. Are you going to tell them no they have to do the gymnastics and not play the flute? Now you might require them to finish out any lessons you have already paid for, but are you going to push the gymnastics on them?

                                Now regarding the bridle issue. I agree with the poster that said if just a halter is an issue, there may be major nerve pain issues there. Does your trainer have a lazer padded crown bridle that sits back from the ears? If he doesn't like a padded crown (was it straight or with the ear dents?) maybe it was just putting that much more pressure on the nerve.

                                You said that his atlas was out per the chiro. If so the weight on his poll could be more than he can handle. Give the western headstall a chance too. Maybe even a gag headstall connected directly to the bit (so not using any gag), would help you see if you could use something extremly light. A mullen mouth bit does not normally come with a curb strap that I know off. It is just a dee ring or egg but with a straight bar. He might like that, especially depending on the shape of his mouth. Did the dentist recommend a specific type of bit after doing the dental work? If that bit did not work, I would go for trying a variety of different headstalls.
                                ~ Kimberlee
                                www.SpunkyDiva.com

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                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Originally posted by Kimberlee View Post
                                  Now regarding the bridle issue. I agree with the poster that said if just a halter is an issue, there may be major nerve pain issues there. Does your trainer have a lazer padded crown bridle that sits back from the ears? If he doesn't like a padded crown (was it straight or with the ear dents?) maybe it was just putting that much more pressure on the nerve.

                                  Did the dentist recommend a specific type of bit after doing the dental work? If that bit did not work, I would go for trying a variety of different headstalls.
                                  I havent tried a bridle with a comfort crown yet. I have tried a courbette huntseat snaffle bridle with square raised brown and noseband, and the second bridle (which he is less keen on) is a brittish made black padded dressage bridle with a regular padded noseband. the brow is padded too, but not the crown. I have also done a plain nylon western bridle, but that was years ago. I think I own a one ear somewhere...

                                  I have never heard of a lazer padded crown that sits back from the ears... do you know of a link that has pictures?
                                  ear dents? pics?



                                  Bit suggestions from the dentists were that the 20mm eggbutt that he is in should be fine. (i brought it out and put it on the horse so they could see)... basically he has a small bit seat, low palate, fat tongue and average lips. His teeth are always in great shape, no hooks, steps or abnormalities, he chews fairly equally on both sides, and does not need any sedation to have his teeth done.
                                  www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                  chaque pas est fait ensemble

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                                  • #18
                                    He he

                                    God I want your horse!! Sounds like fun that one.

                                    Once upon a time... There was a GP jumper rider with a horsey (not because he was terminally ear shy, mind you) that rode her horse in a BIT and REINS. That's it. Horse held the bit in its mouth. Saw her jump the beastie at Devon. (God I love the jumpers. Bicycle chain bits, anything goes.)

                                    Now you can't ride in a recognized show in just a bit and reins, but if you're horse were happy with this arrangement, it could answer some questions for you. And you could possibly ride in schooling shows (bitless bridles show up somewhat regularly at schooling shows by me.)

                                    I'm dying to know if this would work on your horse, so do report back if you decide to give it a go. I've got a very nice jumper who'd rather kill me than do flat work (charming mare, really) so I do FEEL your pain. With winter upon us, the outdoor gallops will be replaced with yet another few months of attempting to convince my dear girl that shoulder-in is not fatal and half halts are not fascist control contrivances.

                                    Good Luck.
                                    \"Enlightenment is like moonlight reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet nor is the water broken.\"

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                                    • #19
                                      If it *is* all about poll sensitivity, how about trying him in one of these? No headstall necessary. I forget who it was, but there was a GP jumper who used to show in one.

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                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        ^ That link doesn't have any pictures and the words are all in German


                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/21240343@N08/2126978439/ <is this the recessed comfort poll thing?

                                        if so has anyone ever bought a bridle from Saddlery4U on ebay?
                                        www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                        chaque pas est fait ensemble

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