Bit Acceptance 101

You’re doing it wrong!

That extreme head carriage and gaping mouth are signs that this mare is trying desperately to avoid her rider’s hands.  By traveling this way, dear “Freedom” also denies her rider access to her hindquarters and hocks – and thus never properly engages from behind.  See how those hindlegs aren’t even close to tracking up?  And while we know the ideal is different in the Western world (sitting in that kind of a chair seat would get you laughed out of the ring in an English barn!), they’re advertising her as a DRESSAGE PROSPECT.

WTF?  For starters, she’s nine.  And she’s been ridden “mostly trails with busy streets”.  Did they see some (unfortunately common) pictures of a dressage horse moving behind the vertical and go hey, my horse does that; she must have a lot of potential for dressage?  We’re starting to get a little frustrated with sellers who think the main qualification for “prospect” status is the horse having no experience in the discipline!

And really, why even go there?  The Arab/Belgium breeding is a little WTF unto itself, but in this case it produced a reasonably attractive mare.  Her legs could stand to be a little more “sturdy”, but she’s fairly well-balanced as a whole.  But it’s still a mix that will likely appeal more to someone wanting a good husband horse for trail rides than anyone looking for a serious dressage prospect.

So why not get out of her face, take a few pictures of her toodling around with her nose poking out, instead of being cranked into this extreme (and extremely unattractive!) frame, and just advertise her as a solid trail horse?  You know, what she’s actually experienced at?  We bet Freedom would be a hell of a lot happier!

“”Freedom” is a registered 1/2 Arab 1/2 Belgian 9-year old mare. She is fully broke and is an easy keeper. She is a willing mare and is super sound. Ridden mostly trails with busy streets! Loves to be ridden. Would make excellent DRESSAGE PROSPECT. Sturdy legs with well-shaped hoofs make for an absolute dreamy soft ride atop this lovely beauty! Must sell due to job loss and down-sizing. WILL SACRIFICE SOME ON PRICE TO RIGHT OWNER! “

Horse Name Freedom
Price $2,500
Location Delano, Minnesota
Breed(s) Arabian Sporthorse
Draft Cross
Sex Mare
Height 16.0 hands
Color Sorrel
Foal Date Jun 2003
Markings Flaxen Mane and Tail
Weight 1450 pounds
Disciplines Western Pleasure (Trained)
Trail Horse (Trained)
Harness (Prospect)
Dressage (Prospect)
Youth/4-H Horse (Prospect)
Temperament 4 (1=Bombproof, 10=Hot)

Just in case you were curious!


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Posted on January 27, 2012, in Bad Horse Ads and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 24 Comments.

  1. If I had a long shanked bit like that in my mouth and someone was pulling on the reins I’d duck my head too. If I were sweet like this mare appears to be and not the sort who would flip over backwards in a ‘Oh heeellllls no!’ expression.

  2. One of the things I’ve realized in my recent rides is that you can tell whether you are training a green horse to work in a correct frame or whether you’re just setting their head.

    Green horses who are actually being asked to engage…and this has happened with *every single one I have ridden* will go through a phase where they will go into a frame for a few strides then collapse out of it and fall onto your hands. Every single one. Regardless of build. My theory is that if you are doing it right, you are asking them to use core muscles that aren’t normally worked that hard…and they *can’t* sustain it for too long and then they literally lose it and fall forward. I’ve even ridden a horse who would go in a frame, fall out of it, then try to get it back without being asked – poor guy clearly knew what I was asking of him, but he just couldn’t quite do it yet.

    (Now if I could just work out why a green horse who does not normally do this would buck on the canter transition. He actually tried to lift into the canter instead of falling in, then bucked…could this be a balance issue? A silly Thoroughbred moment? A symptom of being tired? I want to work out wth happened so I can make sure it doesn’t happen again…)

    • My other standard is if they act like they’re completely exhausted when they barely break a sweat; I know they were using muscles they’re not used to.

      • Right. Which is also why you have to take it slowly (another reason people resort to head setting and rollkeur).

        Bo, the green TB who is TEN rising ELEVEN and was apparently unridden before last summer has JUST started to BEGIN to be able to do two-three strides on the bit at the trot followed by the ‘green horse flop’ after, oh, two months in full work. It’s going to be at least next summer before he will be physically capable of working consistently in a frame. Not helped by his age, of course…it’s a wee bit harder to train a green ten year old than a green four year old. And before anyone says anything…he’s one of my trainer’s rescues and was abandoned in a field for years…he was actually like a 2 when she found him and it was only after she fattened him back up that she tried to get on him and discovered he wasn’t broke. Which is a shame – he’s a *really nice horse*. Nice gaits, decent temperament…not the best, but far from the worst…and a cute, refined face. (We don’t even know for SURE that he’s a TB – no tattoo, papers or history, but he looks, moves and acts like one, so we’re calling him a TB, dang it :P)

        • I (JG) am debating breaking out a 16yo TB mare. She was a broodie when she was younger and has done nothing but sit around and be a companion horse for the past 8-9 years. I think it could be interesting! I just need to find the time… seriously need a body double or something!

  3. FYI – A chair seat gets you laughed out of Western show rings as well. The proper seat still includes a vertical line starting at your ear, through your shoulders, your hip and down to your heel.

  4. Don’t pictures like this just make you want to beat the “trainer” in the tack senseless? One good crack upside the head with a 2 X 4, break both her hands and then take away all her bits except for a few thick lozenge Egg butt snaffles. Who will be able to tell what this horse moves like under tack as she has screwed him up Royaly. The amount of time it will take to Undo all the crap she has done will be double what the actual training time will be. Stupid stupid stupid girl.
    I do hope some-one takes this guy on as a trail horse as he is a tollerant soul and could make someone a lovely low level fair horse and reliable trail horse. He does NOT deserve to endure the craptastic stupidity of this uterley ignorant child any longer.

  5. 1) $2,500. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!

    2) Aren’t ALL draft crosses dressage prospect sport horses? Aren’t they? Really??? *cough*

    3) Her name is Freedom.

    4) They’re doing this stuff in a curb bit and barrel saddle.

    5) They’re made of FAIL.

    6) Girl can’t ride.

    Poor mare. She might be kind of cute, I just can’t get any kind of lock on her in these horrible photos. She’s tolerant, I’ll give her that.

  6. These photos are so wrong in so many ways. Apparent;y, they have not attended many dressage shows. I can just see the face of a dressage rider who answers her ad and finds a horse cranked to its chest in a long shanked bit and finds the horse tacked up for them in a barrel saddle. The green barn boots and chair seat do add a nice touch to the overall look of her photos – not. Poor horse.

  7. I would love to have her for a trail horse, sadly too far away AND too much $$. My OTTB does not like to go out alone, darn it all!

  8. Egads. Seriously? This chick should be on a lead line until she can learn that “balance” and “frame” don’t come from a death-grip on the mouth.


  9. “Loves to be ridden.” REALLY??

  10. Well everyone pretty much covered all the obvious mistakes here but one: WTF is up with the saddle pad so far slipped back that it seems to be letting the front quarter of the saddle ride on the mare’s withers. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’d sure notice if my pad had slipped back while riding!

  11. Also, the saddle is much too small for the rider, and that she is sitting *on* the cantle (in fact, hanging over the back of it!) must add greatly to the horse’s love of being ridden. And what is with the second cinch being done up tight? That too doubtless contributes to the overall comfort of the horse – poor creature!

  12. This poor girls’ draft half is showing. That is why the saddle looks so small. Big boned girls just cant wear petite stuff.
    My initial glance. Mouth open and chin to the chest. Yuck! But, boy oh boy, those hog boots make a real statement.

  13. As an ex-barrel racer/games rider and have kids who have ran speed events, the saddle actually is the size she would be in IF she actually knew what she was doing. Barrel racers like a tighter fitting saddle that prevents less sliding in the seat, hence the reason why some look to be in “a too small saddle”. BUT since she doesn’t seem to have barrel racing on the mare’s sale list….why ride in one? Barrel saddles are not usually wide tree saddles (although you can get them as such, most are semi-or half bars, not full, designed for lankier horses who are built for speed), something this mare would probably need. I’m thinking the saddle probably pinches the mares shoulders and withers.

    About the “second” cinch. A back cinch’s whole purpose is to keep the back of the saddle from flipping upwards and smacking the rider and from causing the whole saddle to be pulled off over the horse’s withers and neck, usually during rodeo-type events like roping and high-speed. Otherwise they are pointless except for looks in my book. Folks will argue they will help keep a western saddle from rolling while on the horse, but a well made, well fitted, well balanced saddle WON’T roll with only a single cinch either (otherwise they’d have them on huntseat saddles too….). Besides, a breast collar will work just as well for that. Also, since a properly fitted back cinch (sometimes called a bucking strap….incorrect since a bucking or flank strap is placed on a horse intended for use as bucking stock in rodeo events) is supposed to allow a hand to be slid under it very easily….not to be buckled up tight to look like it’s on a balloon! A “spacer” strap is also supposed to be used….a strap that connects the front and back cinch under the belly that keeps the back cinch from slipping back and accidently flanking the horse during movement. Using a back cinch while trail riding in heavy undergrowth can be VERY dangerous as a branch or stick can get caught under the back cinch and injure or spook the horse. Also, a too loose back cinch can be dangerous as a horse kicking at a fly can get his back hoof caught in it. I had back cinches for years until I discovered their only real use was for stablization during roping or running events. Outside of the competion ring we went without.

    • I’d add that back cinches are also used in serious rough terrain trail riding to prevent the saddle sliding forward when going down a steep slope. (Some English riders use cruppers for the same thing). Undergrowth is a point, though.

      I’ve only encountered saddles rolling on horses that basically don’t have any withers, which some draft type ponies are very bad for…and a breast collar or breast plate stops that quite nicely.

      I agree that back cinches should be left off for normal arena or pleasure work too. It seems from what I’ve heard entirely too easy for one to turn into a bucking strap…

  14. agree with all the riding & horse tack comments, but as a rider in western washington state, where the ground is always wet, have to stand up in defence of those of us who live in rubber boots. i traded my nice leather boots for rubber muck boots for all my schooling rides. saves damaging the leather, keeps feet warm and dry. my whole way of dressing changed radically from warm dry climate and a public barn, to cold, wet hobby farm where i have to do all the chores. admit i probably would have dressed up for this sale photo, but most people seemed determined to offer the worst photos of their sale horses.

  15. Who in the heck makes trails near/around/through busy streets? The amount of ridiculousness in this ad knows no bounds.

  16. Sometimes trails are where you have to make them. Sometimes they aren’t true trails but just wherever you ride. I have a friend who lives in the hills near Los Angeles and the equestrian trails she rides on are in neighborhoods, near golf courses, run near freeways, etc. and are also multi-use. In Yorktown, VA the Yorktown Battlefield (designed for hikers, bikers and equestrians) trail runs through a tunnel under route 17, a four lane highway…very loud and a challenge for an inexperienced horse! As a teen, I used to ride my horses all over Kitsap County, WA and my horses were exposed to housing developments, ball fields, traffic, shopping strip malls, etc. as there were no real “trails” around where I was. Not defending this yahoo, but maybe the trails she rode on weren’t technically equestrian trails, but probably just neighborhood trails used as cut-throughs by kids or for joggers that end up going through urban areas. Some of the best trail horses are made from horses that have been ridden like this, as long a the folks doing it use their heads and keep the horses and themselves safe. I bet this mare is pretty well desensitized…

  17. What a coincidence. I find it extremely irritating in my area that people advertise any horse as a “barrel prospect”. Really? My barrel horse can do dressage, and I put at least 6 months training into them before they even see a barrel. SO, my point being, I hate it when horses that are obviously just a crappy example of a desirable horse in a specific discipline are advertised as “prospects”. Yuck!

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