Pie in the Bosal

One thing I have been aiming for, with training Pie, is taking the “traditional” path that many a reined cowhorse takes in their journey to becoming fully “broke”. Let me say, I have never brought a horse along like this, but I love the tradition behind it and heard such accolades about the process, I figured Pie would be as good as any horse to bring down this traditional path, progressing from snaffle, to bosal, to “two rein” and then to curb bit..

A bosal is not a bitless bridle..nor is it like many of the mechanical hackamores or even a sidepull.

They all function differently….

(above, a bosal and mecate, from Al Dunnings website)

(above a Jim Warner Hackamore..which encorporates a curb chain)

(above, a bitless bridle)

(above, Pie in a sidepull)

The bosal actually can trace it’s roots to the Spanish Moor’s, and was brought to America by Spain. For years, the Bosal was used pretty exclusively west of the Rocky Mountains and therefore was sometimes called the “california” style or “Vaquero”..for the spanish “cowboys” who employed this method of creating “bridle horses”.

The idea behind the progression of snaffle to bosal was

1. the snaffle teaches lateral flexion well..the bosal builds on that and starts teaching vertical flexion.

2. around the time a bosal was used, (3-4 years old), a young horse’s teeth were errupting, therefore carrying a bit could be uncomfortable.

3. the mecate, usually made of prickly horsehair, starts teaching the basics of neckreining.

(above, a bosal, mecate and hanger, made by Steve Guitron)

interestingly, the vaqueros actually started horses in a piece of equipment similar to a rope halter or sidepull, then the bosal..they progressively worked down to a smaller bosal and encorporated the spade bit the horse would evetually be ridden in..(this is where “two rein” comes in…the horse is ridden in a bosal AND a bit). When the english came to America, they brought with them the snaffle bit, and thus, the vaqueros encorporated the snaffle into their program. 🙂

A spade bit, while it looks monsterous to some, is actually only ment to be used on an older, well prepared horse with a FEATHER light touch. Riding a horse in a spade is akin to riding in a cadillac with power steering. Not every horse can “pack” a spade bit either. a traditionaly trained spade horse is the final step in this type of training..not every horse gets to this point..but the ones that do can akin their knowledge to having their PhD.

(above, Les Vogt on a finished bridle horse, complete with rein chains and Romel reins)

I bought a Bosal (bow-sal) and Mecate (Me-Ca-Tay) back in december and Ive been dieing to try it on Pie. This weekend, I finally got the chance..Although I havent gotten a traditional “hanger”, a browband headstall worked fine..and Pie did  really well.

The bosal is ridden abit differently then a snaffle, as you can lightly “bump” the bosal for a different cue, adding pressure to the horse’s nose and also using the knot under their chin(and why its totally different then a bitless, sidepull or hack). Gradually, the pressure is decreased as the horse starts to understand what the bosal means, while the rider continues to encorporate their seat and leg cues.

Pie really seemed relaxed and happy in the bosal..she kept wanting to stretch down into it and was very easy going and quiet..We will continue working on it, the first few rides are simply the horse getting used to the cues..but she is catching on quickly…I am excited to see how she progresses in this and the difference in her when she is moved into a curb bit evetually versus a horse that did not have time in the bosal. This type of training requires patience and time..but the benefits and rewards are great.

Below is a short video of her riding around abit in the bosal..


Odds N Ends…

January in Texas can be quite unpredictable, weatherwise. Some years we’ve had snow..some years I remember it hitting 70 degrees.

This past weekend, we had alittle of both…in a sense. Saturday dawned alittle chilly, but warmed up beautifully. I hauled Pie and Little Beebe down the road to a local ranch I give lessons at. Before I taught, Casey and I rode around the trails on the ranch. This place is right on the river and has “real” trees (not just mesquite) and was just great. Casey has been dieing to trail ride Beebe too..

So off we went..Casey and Beebe I think I had a fun time(see Beebe’s face, she is having a ball)

And Casey’s smile says it all..

He even got to lope her down the dirt road.

Pie was actually quite good..I got to thinking, she really has never been “trail ridden” per say. We had one spook, in which Pie jumped STRAIGHT up in the air (which put Casey into a fit of laughter, he was behind us)..but all in all, a good experience..I always count myself lucky not much actually scares Pie..and if she does spook, its a simple jump in place..no buck, no running off…Ive always felt that means my horse is thinking..kind of like if a person is startled..they dont run off, they jump..:)

Beebe of course is to worldy and ornery to be scared of anything..except mabey missing a meal..;)

Sunday dawned COOL..and got colder..but Casey and I snuck in a ride, again, between lessons..Casey rode Pie abit that day and I was so proud of both of them..Pie bridled up beautifully for Casey and jogged balanced and slow..much to Casey;s surprise. I have worked very hard to develop Pie’s collected jog. She can still speedtrot with the best of them..but comes right back if you ask.  She has also gotten really good at her backing..a simple weight shift and picking up my reins puts her backing..good girl Pie!

Looks like in afew weeks, we’ll put Pie’s slideplates back on and get back to serious work, preparing for events this year. We are starting to plan our scheduale for 2012..if you are interested in having Pie come and do a presentation or demo..please let us know so we can include you!

Mastering the Turnaround-progression

Last Saturday, My coach Terri Fox came out to Coyote Creek Ranch to conduct a day’s worth of group lessons. The day’s weather dawned dry, but VERY cold. As the morning progressed, the rain started.

I think all of us hung tough for pretty long, but soon even the horses were about at their wit’s end..luckily, the indoor down the road was open, so we loaded up and finished the day down there.

I worked alot on Pie’s turnarounds..or spins..that day. Terri has worked with us on this before. The spin seems to be one of the most differently taught manuvers out there..but the basic ideas are all the same..at least, if they are done correctly. A big thing to remember is, a spin is always FORWARD motion…in place..:)..talk about an oxymoron!

First, the horse must understand that outside rein pressure means to move that corresponding shoulder..I worked alot on this with Pie over the summer. She needed to learn to “give” me her shoulder with that pressure..and by pressure I dont mean huge amounts..as much as needed.

Now that Pie understands to move her shoulder..I can now apply pressure and have her start to move her corresponding leg and she will turn. going to the left she is really getting good..adding some speed and keeping her hind stationary. to the right, we are still working on keeping that hind end abit more stationary..but I am pleased to say we got two NICE turns with alittle speed to the right!

This is us working on shoulder movement..the pre-exercise..you can see she is crossing over in the front in response to my rein pressure, her nose is tilted to the inside of her turn..and she is pivoting pretty well. 🙂

(check out the cool indoor too behind us! yes that is a glass viewing room!)

Casey and Beebe came too..Casey learned how to post to a trot…which I think he appreciated..:)..then he and Paul played a game of tag. Beebe held her own against the much bigger Lilly, in terms of keeping up.

They seemed to have a fun time..

It was a cold day..a miserable day..but thankfully for the indoor, it was a GOOD day! I think I had five layers of clothes on..thank goodness Pie has her fuzzy bear coat..she is pretty tough, both her and Beebe didnt seem bothered by the weather. 🙂

Stock Horse of Texas Clinic

On Friday, September 9th, Pie and I trekked out to Vernon, Texas to take part in the Stock Horse of Texas or SHOT clinic.

SHOT is an organization that puts on shows thru out the year in Texas. One could call these shows something along the ranch versatility line of events, except for a few small exceptions. Ranch Versatility has 5 classes-Pleasure, trail, conformation, cutting and working ranch horse(like working cowhorse). SHOT shows have four classes (there is no conformation)-Pleasure, Trail, Reining and Cowhorse. They also offer separate divisions within the show, depending on the rider’s and horse’s experience level, which offers a very encouraging atmosphere for everyone. 🙂 Classes are placed individually and then an overall champion for the day is determined in each division.

One of the other great things about SHOT is that they always have a clinic the day before their shows, which covers each class.

Which leads us to the Vernon clinic. The clinicians for each event were

Cowhorse- Chance O’Neil of the 4 6’s Ranch

Reining- Ben Baldus of the Waggoner Ranch

Trail- Mozaun McKibben of Whitesboro, Texas, AQHA Open Ranch Versatility World Champion

Pleasure-Laurie Shelton, 2010 SHOT Open World Champion


We arrived and Pie was cool as a cucumber..shes always been a good girl like this, in regards to traveling alone.

We were all divided into four groups in the morning, depending on our and the horse’s experience. We then followed a schedule thru out the day, which had us visit each clinician for a certain amount of time.

First, we visited Mozaun in Trail. I admit, we haven’t worked a WHOLE bunch on serious trail “stuff”..outside of bridges and trot poles..and I saw a “hot heels” over there too..one of the few things that Pie hasn’t quite figured out what to make of yet..

the course we were to ride was a bridge, to a sidepass, a back thru L, trot logs, lope logs (big logs), an arbor, groundtie and then a pick thru obstacle..with branches set at strange angles. I really should have more faith in my pony..she did phenomenal..and even though we’d never loped over anything..after we walked over the poles, then trotted, we loped over them NO problem. She also did the arbor and groundtied.

the pickthru gave her alittle trouble, I really think she wasn’t entirely sure what she was supposed to do..she followed Mozaun’s horse thru…I think with afew more times, she would have no problems. (and the hot heels wasn’t on our practice course..but Pie and I did investigate it.)

I am always aware that I am on a pony at these events..I get curious looks and then someone gets brave and asks about her..:)..Mozaun liked her alot. She actually wasn’t much smaller then his horse(a mustang). He is competing in the Mustang Makeover next weekend in Fort Worth and this little horse was going good.

Pie watching another rider on trail

Next we moved onto Pleasure. Pleasure in stockhorse is supposed to showcase a horse that would be a “pleasure” to ride across open country. the horse performs a pattern individually which showcases ALL gaits..including extensions. We worked on small parts of the pattern with Laurie. Pie did well and put in a good stop and 180 degree turn. Our 70/30 right lead gave us a pinch of trouble..but we worked thru it.

After lunch, we went to Cowhorse with Chance O’neil. Now, Pie has never worked a cow before..she’s seen cows on our place, but never worked them. My goal was a good experience, not rushed or crazy..EASSSYYY..

She did very well..better then I expected actually! see the video below, Pie’s first time on a cow.

At about 0:22, you can see Pie stopped deep..Chance and afew others along the fence, laughed and said they surely didn’t expect to see a pony stop like that. you can see the goal of this was to get Pie to “box” the cow, as in keep it up at the top of the arena, and let Pie learn to “mirror” and follow the cow. Chance commented after afew more times, I’d need a seat belt..meaning, she is going to be quick once she understands what she is supposed to do.

Our final stop of the day was reining with Ben. We went over alot of body control, which is the basis for a good reining pattern. One thing I did learn, which seemed to help Pie was regarding the turnaround or “spin”..when asking for the turnaround, if the horse gets lazy or decides to not listen, instead of schooling them IN the spin, drive them out to a circle, school out there and then go back to your spin…Pie got a pinch dull in her turn, so I tried this, came back to the turnaround and wow!..she was much more receptive and turned around VERY well with just me clucking to keep her going!

That is why I love these clinics…you always walk away with knowledge and different perspectives on things!

I was beyond proud of Pie..I had lots of people complimenting her, including the clinicians. I felt like I told her story and the story of chincoteague 50 times yesterday..but the interest in her and acceptance by everyone was great. I sometimes doubt my ability to get her where she needs to be..she is the first horse I have started myself remember..I think alot of what she is is due to me..but also to HER..she is such an easy going, good pony..she is smart and tries really hard to do what is being asked of her.

We came home..tired, but I think we both felt like alot had been accomplished.

Upcoming Events-SHOT clinic

This Friday, Pie and I will be attending the Stock Horse of Texas (SHOT) clinic given in Vernon. This clinic will cover all aspects of the SHOT show-Pleasure, Trail, Reining and Cowhorse.

Clinicians include some of the top men in the industry..so this is very exciting to be able to go to one spot and get input from different professionals.

Pie has never actually “worked” cattle before..she of course has seen them and been right up next to them..but working them is another matter..I’d like to think that once she understands she can get them to move, she will hook on..

I will have a recap when we get back!

(can you tell Pie is excited to go?)

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