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Rope halter/sidepull - why or why not?

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  • Rope halter/sidepull - why or why not?

    I've recently started endurance with my Arab. We completed our first 25 this spring. My boy is only 6 and it was really the first time going out in a group of more than a handful of other familiar horses. He handled it really well, but I used my regular leather bitted bridle because I wasn't quite sure how he would react to all the hype of a ride. I didn't want to be 'that guy' with the idiot uncontrollable horse so I went with a bit for our first ride. He did completely fine and I think I probably could have gone bitless.

    We do a lot of our conditioning rides in a rope halter with rings for reins on the nose knots to make it a sidepull. Its also typically what I ride in when my friends and I go on trail rides. We don't generally just walk sedately on those and will let our horses out to a gallop if we find a clear stretch and he stays in control and listens perfectly fine in it.

    So my question is does anyone ride in a similar setup? I know a lot of people go bitless, but usually I've seen Biothane. I found a Bio bridle I do like a lot, but the price tag is pretty high. Is there any reason NOT to use the rope sidepull? I've not tested it at longer distances, but it doesn't seem to cause any problems at 10-15mi. I don't see *anyone* using them, but I didn't know if that is because its just not the "in" thing to use or if there's an actual reason like they cause a lot of problems with rubbing or something when worn for longer periods of time.

  • #2
    One of the top riders in my region rides all his horses in the rope halter set up that you described. He does everything from LDs to 100s that way and doesn't seem to have a problem.

    Comment


    • #3
      There's no reason not to use whatever is comfortable for him and you both.

      I would rinse it out really well between sweaty rides: I use some top quality, stiff rope halters and they get stiffer the saltier they get. So I make sure to dunk and swirl them in fresh water from time to time. I like some resistance/stiffness in the rope (it stands off their face a little which I like, rather than draping heavily against it, just my preference). I just don't want it salty and cruddy, too.

      Crazy ropes, I think it is, sells a nice, well made rope halter sidepull, maybe the one you are describing. The only issue I see with loosely fitted ones (may not apply to you of course) is that with a direct rein to the L, for example, if you are riding like it's a bosal...the cheeks twist and get up in their eye. A well fitted sidepull type set up will not do this.

      Enjoy- I ride my TWH in a rope halter from time to time, a sidepull, etc...use what works. I like being out of his mouth on multi hour rides, so he can eat when I let him, and not be fighting a bit to get grass around it.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have been riding my TWH in a rope halter with side pull rings as well, but I'm going to look for an alternative.

        He responds really, really well to it, and even when he gets a little hot I have no trouble with him listening to it but.....

        It rubs his face raw. I just rode around the property last night for about 45 min, and he had bare, raw patches. One on the very top of his nose, and two on the sides where the rings connect to the side knots. It's not an overly stiff rope material, and he doesn't pull on it, so I'm really not sure what else to try.

        I'm assuming that he may just be thin-skinned. he doesn't like a bit at ALL (results in head shaking and temper-tantrums) and I've tried an English Hackamore with the fleece nose band that ended up causing the same head shaking reaction. I assume it was from the leverage action. The bit I used was a mullen mouth snaffle. Very mild and plain jane.

        I'm thinking that I might try to rig the fleece part of the english hack under the nose of my rope hack to see if I can alleviate the rubbing problem. I would hate to have to quit using my rope halter - I just had it custom made in my colors.

        Comment


        • #5
          I my area (Northwest) I see people competing in rope halters all the time, no one thinks twice about it....UNTIL...last fall at the START of a 50 mile ride, a string of riders was passing my little group on the left, and I noticed one of the riders who had a death grip on her rope halter reins, horse was practically climbing the horse in front of it and she just had no control. Then as she passed my horse, she flipped her nose down and just double barrelled right at my horse, catching me in the shin and splitting it wide open. End of the ride for me, still have a ugly scar. So, I would say to start the ride and deal with the pack craziness in a bit, and then when everyone spreads out down the trail and settles into their pace, say maybe at the first vetcheck, then switch to your bitless option. PLEASE make sure you have lateral control of your horse, able to tip the nose, swing hindquarters away, two-track/leg yield and emergency stop before riding in a high adrenaline, crowded, unpredictable sport. Endurance rides are NOT the same as trail riding with thoughtful friends
          Windwalker Ridge: Gaited horses, lessons, training, sales
          http://windwalkerridge.cloud11.net

          Comment


          • #6
            I think I see as many bitless and bitted options on endurance as the days are long. It's fairly common to see all sorts of setups - it all depends on what works best for your horse at that given time. I do prefer to ride bitless on longer rides, but at times I've needed the control of a bit - esp with a hot horse (as some of mine really are).

            One good option is a halter bridle combo (I'm not a fan of biothane -as it WILL not break in an emergency) so I do have both leather and braided halter bridle combos instead) I've been testing out a nice round braided bitless sidepull that I made last winter, - so far so good. Stiff over the nose like rope, but no rubbing on my one super tender nosed guy. thing is, I can get away with less control on this horse as he's an experienced campaigner and never rushes off with the herd at a shotgun start, just moseys out unti we decide it's time to start moving up the pack as he's a back end starter- its just the way he prefers to run.

            On the other hand I have a hot mare who while experienced as well, loves to run in front - I've never been brave enough to take the snaffle I use off her - she's too quick and reactive.

            Even though I like being able to start in a bit, and then remove it further down the trail once whichever horse I'm riding has settled into his pace.


            the 2 important things to consider are control and comfort. There's no point having a setup that is super comfortable for your horse- if it just doesn't give you the type of control you may need.
            Originally posted by ExJumper
            Sometimes I'm thrown off, sometimes I'm bucked off, sometimes I simply fall off, and sometimes I go down with the ship. All of these are valid ways to part company with your horse.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Char View Post
              I have been riding my TWH in a rope halter with side pull rings as well, but I'm going to look for an alternative.

              He responds really, really well to it, and even when he gets a little hot I have no trouble with him listening to it but.....

              It rubs his face raw. I just rode around the property last night for about 45 min, and he had bare, raw patches. One on the very top of his nose, and two on the sides where the rings connect to the side knots. It's not an overly stiff rope material, and he doesn't pull on it, so I'm really not sure what else to try.

              I'm assuming that he may just be thin-skinned. he doesn't like a bit at ALL (results in head shaking and temper-tantrums) and I've tried an English Hackamore with the fleece nose band that ended up causing the same head shaking reaction. I assume it was from the leverage action. The bit I used was a mullen mouth snaffle. Very mild and plain jane.

              I'm thinking that I might try to rig the fleece part of the english hack under the nose of my rope hack to see if I can alleviate the rubbing problem. I would hate to have to quit using my rope halter - I just had it custom made in my colors.
              I have gotten the cheapy fleece halter covers (the ones that velcro on for trailering) and used those on the rope halter- works great and can be easily taken off and tossed in the washer.
              "As soon as you're born you start dyin'
              So you might as well have a good time"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by tabula rashah View Post
                I have gotten the cheapy fleece halter covers (the ones that velcro on for trailering) and used those on the rope halter- works great and can be easily taken off and tossed in the washer.
                I was hoping to find a solution without covering the noseband completely (it's so pretty!), but that might very well be worth a try. I'll pick some up today at the store and try it on our ride this weekend.

                Thanks TR!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Best of both worlds

                  Why don't you look for a snap-on bridle. I got one a few years back, just $30. Goes easily onto the rope halter, use whatever bit you like. Just snaps. I got it from here, when it was still Canadian Trail House! http://www.americantrailgear.com/USA_Add_On.htm

                  I used the rope reins with snaps so I could easily switch from bit to rope halter (as side pull). Or at vet stops, pulled off the bridle part for cooling and snapped a rein on the halter as a lead rope. Very versitile. The Beta is super light so it weighed nothing to add to my pack if I pulled it off mid ride to switch to sidepull after the crazies were over.

                  Then you will have the best of both worlds available to you.

                  I have since switched to a Lindell-like sidepull to avoid the pulling/ twisting as mentioned above. It has a throat strap much further forward, under the eye, to keep it for twisting over the eyes. Now I need to make something home-made to combine the two!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I do all of my riding in a rope halter with rolled noseband. I use the loop under Jet's chin, while my son rides his mare, Jula, with the rings on the side (so sidepull action). I haven't had issues with rubbing with the rolled nose, but my mare is not sensitive skinned, and I generally don't use much pressure on her face.

                    I my area (Northwest) I see people competing in rope halters all the time, no one thinks twice about it....UNTIL...last fall at the START of a 50 mile ride, a string of riders was passing my little group on the left, and I noticed one of the riders who had a death grip on her rope halter reins, horse was practically climbing the horse in front of it and she just had no control. Then as she passed my horse, she flipped her nose down and just double barrelled right at my horse, catching me in the shin and splitting it wide open. End of the ride for me, still have a ugly scar.

                    It's terrible that you had that experience, and I hope the horse was pulled for being out of control. Still, that could have just as easily happened with a horse riding in a bit. None of us can FORCE a horse to listen, regardless of bit, if they are intent on ignoring us. It's just a weight ratio impossibility.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      hmmm, not so sure about it happening just as easily in a bit. I'm a trainer, instructor and endurance mentor, teach ALL my riders that when being passed OR passing, to tip the horses nose TOWARDS the other horses and be ready with the inside leg to disengage (push quarters away from the other horses) So many people (especially trail riders we run into on the trail) PULL their horses off the trail, putting their butts in perfect firing position. You just don't typically have as much lateral control in a rope halter
                      Windwalker Ridge: Gaited horses, lessons, training, sales
                      http://windwalkerridge.cloud11.net

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Halcyon Days View Post
                        hmmm, not so sure about it happening just as easily in a bit. I'm a trainer, instructor and endurance mentor, teach ALL my riders that when being passed OR passing, to tip the horses nose TOWARDS the other horses and be ready with the inside leg to disengage (push quarters away from the other horses) So many people (especially trail riders we run into on the trail) PULL their horses off the trail, putting their butts in perfect firing position. You just don't typically have as much lateral control in a rope halter
                        Well, you should be able to control your horse in whatever you are riding in, or you shouldn't be riding, particularly in a group setting. I think a riding halter provides plenty of lateral control. If your horse is resistant, a bit isn't going to change that, and a bit sure won't stop a horse from kicking.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I like riding in rope halters, but Halcyon Days is right. A rope halter, particularly one with the reins attached below the chin, does not provide as much lateral control as a bit or some other bitless options. I switch my young horses between a rope halter, a serreta, and a bit depending on where they are in their training and what we are working on that day.

                          That said, if the horse is well trained and in control, it doesn't matter on an endurance rides. OP, the problem I have had and the reason I tend not to like halters on longer rides is that I have had a problem with them rubbing. There's just a lot more movement with a halter than a bridle. I would definitely at least do a practice 25 mile ride before competing in it, and probably bring a back up option just in case until you're sure it won't rub.
                          exploring the relationship between horse and human

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            most of the endurance people I know who go bitless use a little S hackamore on a biothane headstall.

                            I would worry about rubs from a rope halter, especially if say it rained and the rope got soaked.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              I'm not terribly worried about control. He steers perfectly fine in the sidepull (I mostly steer of leg anyway). He's not one to pick fights with other horses under saddle - we had many discussions about this as a colt and now he really has no personal bubble under saddle. We were on a trail ride last year and the two horses behind us took off in a bolt. I've had horses slam into us, bolt past us, etc. His only real reaction is to move out of the way.

                              I've NEVER had him kick out at another horse, even if the other horse deserved it. We've been on several public rides with extremely ill-behaved horses and/or riders.

                              I was mostly wondering about the rubbing. It doesn't move around a whole lot on his face since I have it rigged as a sidepull rather than putting the reins on the on the loop for the lead rope which does twist it back and forth, but I see the potential for rubs anyway. It sounds like my hunch that it could rub like crazy, may be true. Maybe I'll just spring for the far more expensive Bio sidepull I've been eying.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Sounds like you have good control but if you think you want more, a cross-jaw set up will give you better lateral control and stopping power. You can make it for about twelve bucks. (Holler if you'd like some help with the pattern.) I've ridden an OTTB trail in one I made for 5 years. For a long ride, I'd def put the ugly thick fleece cover on the nose band. Made one for a friend whose gray developed a tumor in her mouth. (Vets said leave it alone but have her go bitless.) She's been doing R&T for years that way now.
                                www.lisapreston.com

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Ended up putting a plain leather curb strap on the fleece lined leather english hackamore I have in stead of the chain curb. Worked like a charm. He was happy as a lark, listened perfectly, and best of all - NO RUBS!

                                  Maybe something to consider trying. I was concerned about lateral control, but the "shanks" on this thing are so short that it wasn't a problem at all. Plus, I had the curb adjusted as loose as it would go, so there was hardley any leverage at all. It was almost a side pull. lol

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Good solution. He listens, doesn't get rubbed, and you're both out there putting in miles. Niiiiiice.
                                    www.lisapreston.com

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Yes - excellent solution!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Day long, I think I see a lot of bitless bitted endurance options. This is quite common to see a variety of settings - it all depends on your horse, the best view of the time.

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