How do YOU listen?

I keep seeing the following quote posted on social media, lately. Every time I see it, I take a moment to evaluate recent interactions with people, to see how I could’ve improved my communication in each situation.

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I’ve also heard the concept of”listening to listen vs. listening to answer,” talked about in many leadership workshops, over the years.

Today, though, it dawned on me that it really applies to riding and training, as well.

When your horse has a disagreeable moment, do you immediately reply, or do you take a moment to listen? After all, we know that horses use their bodies to speak to us. I’d say that most of us do our best to evaluate our horse’s health when something seems amiss.

But, do you listen to fix those problems, or do you listen to understand why they happened, in the first place?

Your horse is struggling, so, like a good owner, you have the vet out. They discover a lameness issue, so you immediately treat the problem. After a period of rest and rehab, your horse seems normal, once more.

You pat yourself on the back for being so attentive to your horse’s needs, for picking up on a problem so much faster than less-educated riders. And you return to your schooling regimen.

This scenario plays out over and over again, all over the country – it’s industry standard.

But, here’s the thing: you listened and answered, but did you listen and understand? Did you determine the root cause of the issue? Did you consider the fact that it might be your training methods, riding technique, and/or horse management routine that caused the problem?

I doubt it, because it makes us uncomfortable to think about it. After all, we love our horses, and we subscribe to all the latest “gentle” and “correct” practises. We don’t believe in rollkur, we use a French-link snaffle, and we have padding under our crank nosebands. Our jumpers have fuzzy figure-8’s, colour-coordinated Ogilvy pads, and our hunters follow suit – albeit in more subdued tones. We use what the pros use, we do what the pros do, so clearly our methods are above reproach.

Well, I have a challenge, for you. The next time your horse tells you something is wrong, break out of your safe zone of preconceived notions and your trainer’s opinion, look outside the box, and evaluate everything with an honest eye. Then, allow yourself the room to make changes, if needed.

After all, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results. Isn’t it time to get off that crazy carousel?

 

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Horze Venice Bridle Review

Let me just say that I started out skeptical of this bridle, but I’m glad that I kept it. I’ve had it for about 3 months, now.

When my favourite Nunn Finer bridle was basically stolen from me several years ago, I didn’t see the point in replacing it as I was horseless at the time. However, when Baby Stu came into my life, I realised it was time to bite the bullet and plunge into the world of online tack purchasing.

I knew I didn’t want anything super fancy, nor did I have a need for anything other a plain cavesson. I also knew I wanted it to be brown, with buckle closures, and I really wanted a padded crownpiece with an ergonomic design.

I searched online for several days, mostly lurking on CoTH to read reviews. I’d been strongly leaning towards SmartPak’s Plymouth Elite bridle, but it didn’t come in brown, and I was trying to stay under $100 since it would just be my schooling bridle.

Then, thanks to Facebook’s data mining (lol, funny but not), I suddenly started seeing ads for Horze bridles. One, in particular, kept catching my eye – their Venice bridle.

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Horze Venice bridle, horse not included (boo).

It met most of my requirements, and I really loved the stitching detail on the crownpiece. The reviews were mixed, but that’s to be expected with cheap tack.

List price was $79.95, and I received a 15% off code for signing up for their mailing list, so overall total (with 3-day shipping) was $87.91. It shipped within 24 hours of purchase, which I appreciated.

My first impression upon taking it out of the shipping bag was disappointment. It was soft and flexible, but also felt and looked “plasticky,” for lack of a better term. I seriously considered returning it.

I’m dating myself a bit, here, but my last horse’s bridle was under $100, stiff out of the box, but oiled nicely and wore like iron. It was a beast, and I often wish I’d never let it go with my horse to his new owner. It might’ve been plain, but never once did it feel like anything other than nice leather. I guess I need to accept the fact that the Good Ol’ Days of cheap tack are over!

However, Stu arrived 3 days later, so my impatience triumphed over my disappointment, and I decided to keep it so that I had something for him to wear.

I didn’t oil it, as the plasticky feel gave me serious pause. I still haven’t oiled it! Instead, I used some Higher Standards on it, which did soften it and take away a tiny part of the plasticky sensation.

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Stu wearing the bridle for the first time – his first impression was “damn, I make this look good!”

Stu has kind of a weird head, and although the MMSC assured me he wore a horse size. I was worried that he might lean towards cob, but this bridle fits him just fine. I found the throatlatch to be pretty generous – in that photo, you can see it’s on the second hole, but even on the third hole it’s still suuuuper roomy. The cheekpieces seemed average to me, and the browband might run a tiny bit big, but it’s definitely not on the small side. the padding on the crown and browband is nice and squishy.

There is a metal button with Horze’s red Z logo on it, on the left side of the browband – I don’t care for that touch, but I also haven’t been bothered enough by it to try to rip it off, or replace the browband, so there’s that. However, it was NOT visible in the website photos, even though they seemed to show the left side of the bridle, so that was a bit misleading.

The buckles weren’t overly stiff or overly soft, and they’ve improved with use. I can’t comment on the noseband as I’ve never used it.

It’s been about 3 months now, and the bridle has definitely grown on me. I take my reins off on a regular basis, and I will say that on one side it’s hard to push the bight all the way into the keeper, but it’s not a huge deal to me. I’m a PC diehard, so I clean my tack after every use, and the bridle has darkened/lost some of the red hue, and softened even more. It still has that hint of plastic to it, but on the bright side it doesn’t seem as susceptible to dirt jockeys, even though Stu is a filthy yak these days and manages to get dirt and dust on everything, Pigpen style.

For an $80.00 schooling bridle, it’s not all that bad. Would I look to Horze for my show bridle, in the future? Probably not – I think I’ll stick with the traditional big brands that we all know and love. But, for future schooling bridles? I might!

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