Yesterday, as I was preparing to ride, I picked up my English hackamore bridle. I had 3 bridles to chose from, the hackamore being the ‘strongest’ of the 3 options. Initially, I didn’t think much of it, but as I put the bridle on, I thought about why I felt that was the best bridle for the day.
It was quite windy, and Tara can be a little spooky in the wind. I have fallen off of her a few times in the past when it has been windy, so it always makes me nervous, even though it hasn’t happened in years! I am also using a new seat saver on my saddle and I am not yet confident that it won’t slip, so that was adding to my anxiety!
On this day, my decision to use stronger tack was based purely on my own fears and anxieties. I was worried that using softer equipment would result in me falling off. In reality, if I’m going to fall off, it will happen regardless of what equipment I have on my horse!
I chose to put down the strongest bridle in my collection, and instead I picked up my most gentle bridle, my Transcend, and chose to have faith in my horse and my training. And guess what… Nothing bad happened! It wasn’t without a few small spooks, but nothing more that would have happened even in the hackamore.
I honestly believe that any time a rider choses to use harsher equipment, the route of the decision is always fear of some kind. Whether it is fear of falling off, fear of not being in full control, fear of not progressing in your riding or even fear of competition failure.
We have all done it, and it is perfectly natural to do what we think will keep us safe or help us succeed. But I think it is important that we always question why we are using certain equipment, and whether we really need it.
I do not feel it is fair for me to subject my horse to more tack than she needs, just because I am afraid, or want to perform better in a competition.
So, I am trying to change the way I think about the tack I use, because at the moment, I often still allow my nerves to decide! I feel I am already making progress, I have started using my Transcend bridle to jump in competition, which I was previously to afraid to do! My next challenge is to eventually stop using my English hackamore altogether as Tara really doesn’t need such a strong bridle. It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting there thanks to the Sparkle Queen, Sadie, helping me out!
Chances are, the outcome of whatever situation I’m in will not be changed by the tack I use. So why not use the most gentle equipment possible?
(Cute photo of Tara pony at her last show because she is a cutie pie ❤️)