I’ve always said no. No, I won’t become a brand ambassador. No, I won’t help you to sell your bits. Or Saddles. Or supplements. Until now!
Why not? The problem is, the horses don’t read the same textbooks that we do. I can read the blurb and think, wow, this is the most amazing bit. This bit is awesome, it’s the key, it’s the answer to every horse’s dream. And, the horse says – uhhh…. No.
Why do you think there are so many flavors in an ice cream shop? So many different types of chocolate bar? So many items on your favorite restaurant menu? So many different restaurants? So many books, and movies, and TV shows, and, and, and. Because, we humans love choice. And even though, at times, choice overwhelms us, and we don’t make decisions because there are too many choices, we still demand choice. The best flavor of ice cream is of course choc chip, everyone knows that. But, if you choose strawberry – well, I won’t hold it against you. (If you choose Durian, I may, however, hold that against you…)
So, why should your horse be any different? I had a pony, a long, long time ago, who taught me such an important lesson.
Tomala was a hot-headed runaway. She’d had a very rough start and was badly backed and ridden. Her mouth was a train wreck, but she was sweet and happy, and enjoyed having a job to do. While she spent most of her time as a lead rein pony – she was magic with a groom on the end of her headcollar lead rein, walking and trotting with small beginners – she was difficult for kids to ride off the lead. And, she had a spectacular jump, so of course we wanted to get her out and competing. Her way of going was head up, neck hollow, back hollow, dropped through the base of her neck, ears in her rider’s face, and RUN. A pelham, I decided, would clearly fix the issue. But, Tomala hadn’t read the same books – put a pelham on her and all she would do was rear.
OK, what about a kimblewick? Maybe a pelham was just too strong? No, anything with a chain or pressure in the chin groove, up she would stand. So, no pelham, curb, double, nothing with chin groove action. Bitless, I thought. No. Anything with curb pressure, again, she would rear. Anything else, with just a side pull / cross over action, she would run through, with no brakes and no steering too. Any form of snaffle had either no affect at all, or if it had too much tongue pressure, she would shake her head wildly. I was fast running out of options.
A gag? Well, I thought – the books say that gags are great for horses who land after a fence and haul their head to the floor. The upward pressure raises their head. With little Tomala, we had the opposite issue. But, lets try. The gag was an instant success, giving the best brakes she’d ever had. Slight issue that she would open her mouth and cross her jaw. Flash, grackle and drop nosebands all caused wild head shaking and the threat of rearing. Someone dug out an old cavesson where the front portion was a thick length of cord. Perfect. She didn’t have her mouth tied shut – the cavesson sat pretty loose. She had a simple jointed mouthpiece which was comfortable on her tongue but had the leverage of the sliding cheekpieces of the gag. It wasn’t a combination I would have chosen for her. In theory it was all wrong – but you know what? She loved it. She was happy in it, and it worked. So, whose opinion was more important – mine or Tomala?
The thing about being a brand ambassador is that you have a product to sell. You’re likely going to try to sell that product, even if you don’t believe it’ll work for this particular horse, because you have to earn your ambassadorship. And, even if you truly believe that this particular thing is perfect for this horse, many owners won’t fully jump at it since they are wondering if it’s your sales pitch… No one bit fits all horses. No one saddle suits all horses or all riders. No one feed or supplement, or training aid, or bridle suits all.
And so, no, I won’t be a brand ambassador… Until now! I’m very happy to be Horsemart’s ambassador, because they help to supply options. Rather than limiting you to two choices of horses to buy, or one type of feed advertised, they are helping to open up the market and offer more options. And, options is one thing that I can get behind!