Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Well That Escalated Quickly

By random and happy circumstance I now own a Micklem bridle! The girl who had lent me hers to borrow knew someone else selling one the same size and put us in touch. So I got a lightly used bridle without the reins for $80. Not too shabby for something that retails for 200 bucks. At that price if it doesn't work out I won't feel too bad.

On Sunday I rode Maggie for the first time since she colicked the prior Wednesday. I put her in the Micklem and I lunged her on a small circle at one end of the ring while another girl in the indoor finished up her ride at the other end. Maggie trotted out well and got a couple small bucks and squeaks out of her system, enough that she didn't feel the need to unleash after I got on her. She was super forward as expected after that much time off and I spent a lot of the ride working on trying to slow her down with my seat. This still isn't something I'm amazing at, but at least I'm aware that I need to work on it and it's something I focus on during every single ride. It's hard to keep your own rhythm when your pony wants to trot out from underneath you! I'd still rather have a horse that's too forward than not forward enough though! For some reason, she always wants to speed up as she goes around a corner coming off the short side. I try to anticipate this and really try to keep my posting steady and slower so that Maggie doesn't just keep picking up steam. Doesn't always work though. Maggie kind of drifted on and off of contact at times, but for the most part was searching for my hands the whole time. We did some canter too since she certainly had the energy for it. She was super responsive to my aids to canter and picked up the correct lead each time which was great. I worked on sitting up really tall to try and get her to collect a bit at the canter, instead of being strung out. She did pretty good! No remarks on the bridle, really.

Rainy day, slushy rings.
I had MLK day off so I got to ride Maggie in the daylight again, which was nice. Once I brought her out onto the cross ties, I realized how nasty her hocks had gotten once more. It didn't look like she has particularly loose manure again, but it is quite muddy out right now so maybe that's what it's from. Either way, being the second 40 degree day in a row I busted out the whitening shampoo and gave her hocks a good scrubbing. By the time I got over to the indoor a lesson had started. At least there were only two people in there, but one of them was jumping a small vertical. Between the one person jumping and the sounds of some bulldozers doing who knows what behind the indoor, Maggie lost her shit on our first pass around the ring at a trot and started doing the hopping bucks. It feels like I'm on one of those springy rocking horses at a playground when she does that. You know, one of these things:

She can buck in place like no one's business. The first time she did it I actually laughed out loud because it felt so funny. So I kept talking to her, getting her to sloooowww doooown and gooooo eeeaaaasy, but she kept on doing the bucking thing so I decided to hop off so as not to disrupt the lesson. I offered to leave the ring, but the instructor assured me that they'd be done with the lesson soon anyway and the other horses weren't actually bothered by Maggie at all. I made her walk around me for a bit and eventually she chilled out enough to stand still until the lesson was over. 

When I got back on and picked up the trot, she was actually lazy and behind my leg! Little punk. So I did a bunch of walk/trot/walk transitions to get her to wake up again and get forward. We had some good moments, but she still seemed pretty perturbed. Once I got her going again she had enough energy that she held a canter pretty well for a change, though she was rushy and wouldn't lower her neck much. I glanced in the mirrors a bunch as we trotted or cantered past the long side and I noticed she really seemed to be fighting the bridle - she was actually opening her mouth quite wide, which she doesn't do in her regular dressage bridle (maybe because the nose band prevents it?) So now I'm all worried that she actually hates the Micklem and it's uncomfortable for her...

The night before I watched a couple videos about fitting Micklems so I tried my best to adjust our newly acquired one before our ride and here's what I ended up with:

I still think it looks schmancy.

To get the noseband where I wanted it I had to put the "cheek piece" on the second highest holes and actually punch a new hole in the very bottom of the bit straps in order to get the bit to sit in the right place and not gag the poor thing. I actually think the noseband still looks a tiny bit low... I asked the trainer that was giving the lesson and she said she'd like to see it about a half inch higher. I can't put the cheek pieces up any higher, therefore bringing the noseband up higher, with out the bit totally gagging her though! I need longer bit straps.

Does anyone know where I can buy extra (longer) bit straps? I found two potential places so far:
1. The Horseware Ireland website, but it looks like they only come in one size.
2. Horseworld.ie, where you can select either pony or full size. Not sure yet if they ship internationally.

I'm actually not sure what size this bridle this one is specifically. I probably need to get out a tape measurer. I was told it was the same size as my friend's bridle, which was a standard horse size, but I'm not so sure...

My friend's bridle on top, my "new" bridle on bottom.
What's the verdict, blogland? Does it look like it fits as is? Do I need a shorter noseband/ longer bit straps? Recommendations for where I could get longer bit straps?

I've got a dressage lesson at 6 pm tonight, which seriously can't come too soon!


  1. $80 is a great deal! I stalked used ones for six months and the best I could do was $140. To answer your questions, yes the headstall definitely fits. You may want longer bit straps, but that totally depends on what kinds of bits you normally ride in. This leather tends to stretch A LOT, first of all (I used to be on the last hole in both headstall straps, and now we're on second to last), and second, when I have Connor's loose ring in, I have a lot of extra bit strap because the rings are so big. A small ring like that full cheek you've got there, that's when you'll be at the end of it.

    1. Ah, excellent point about the size of the bit rings! Maybe it would be easier to look for a full cheek with larger rings than it would be to look for longer but straps... Interesting about the stretching...I might run out of holes to put the noseband up if that happens!!

  2. Wow what a great find!! Have fun at your lesson :)

  3. what an excellent deal - definitely good enough to do some exploring to get the fit just right. good luck! (it really does look SO CUTE on her!)