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Tools of the Trade

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What are your top 3 “Tools of the Trade”?

I was talking with one of my friends the other day and we were talking about the different kinds of halters out there and what kind to use and when to use them. She was getting a lot of different answers which actually caused her to have more questions.

I’ve become so used to doing certain things and using certain items, my tools of the trade, that I don’t even think about it anymore. It’s just a habit. So it was fun having this discussion with my friend.

I guess we all have things we prefer to use with our horses and things that work better than others for what we are doing with our horses.

However, I want to mention a few things that I have come to rely on in my many years with horses and why. There may be something here you haven’t tried yet that might come in handy. And if you have something you really like, I’d love to hear in the comments below what it is and why you like it.

Sharing our experiences with other horse enthusiasts in order to help each other is what it’s all about. Right?

Even though these top three tools below are everyday items, the details are important. When buying tack, grooming items, and everyday tools of the trade, you need to think about what to use on your horse, why you’ll use them, and when you need to use them. This will make a difference in what you purchase.

Here are just a few of the basic tools that I use.

1. Halter – I use a premium breakaway, fleece-lined nylon halter with a throat latch for general use.

Why:

  • It keeps my horse safe just in case anyone tries to halter my horse and take him away without my permission (this has happened a few times). It allows him to pull away and break free.
  • It also keeps my horse safe if for some reason he gets away from me and runs off. The breakaway strap allows him to stay safe in case he gets caught up in a tree, caught on a fence, or anything else.
  • This type of halter is also a great alternative to a leather halter for turnout combining the durability of synthetic webbing and the comfort of fleece, with the safety of a break away design.
  • It has an extra wide fleece nose band and crown piece for added comfort for my horse too. It’s so soft on his ears and nose.
  • I also like the throat latch so I can easily get the halter over my horse’s ears and then gently click the latch up. It’s especially good to use on a spooky horse.

When I use this – Of course I use the halter anytime that I take my horse out of the stall or the pasture to move him out in the open to another location. That can be to the arena to train, to the mounting area to tack up to ride, or just out and about for an enjoyable walk.

However, I do not leave the halter on my horse when working at liberty in the arena, under my bridle when riding, or when he is out all day in the pasture.

2. Lead Rope – I use a 12’ Poly lead rope.

Why:

  • I use the premium quality polypropylene lead because it is strong. It is the only lead rope that hasn’t unraveled, torn, or frayed on me after a few years of use.
  • It also has a soft, broken in feel that is very comfortable for me to handle. It feels good.
  • I make sure it has a non-rust solid brass snap hook too because brass has always lasted longer for me. The brass clasp hasn’t ever broken on me or got stuck.
  • The ends of the rope are heat-sealed to ensure long-lasting dependability and performance.
  • I like a minimum of 12′ long so I don’t have to be too close if I don’t want to. Plus if my horse spooks and moves quickly away, they usually don’t go too far and the 12’ allows me to still be attached and not lose my horse.
  • There is no way I will win a tug of war challenge with a 1200 lb. horse and I don’t want to end up with rope burns trying. So having a longer lead rope gives me the opportunity to let my horse move away from me without having to hold on too tightly and cause rope burn.
  • I will also still have contact with my horse if he shies away. With a shorter lead, he could pull away quickly and become lose and run off. Which then is a safety hazard as he could step or trip on the lose lead.

When I use this – Of course I use this whenever I have a halter on my horse to lead him to and from the arena or while walking around the farm. I will also use this when starting to lunge at a walk or a trot.

I will use the end of the rope, moving it back and forth, in between me and my horse to add space between us if and when needed.

I use the end of the rope, twirling it in a circle, when I ask my horse to move out to begin lunging and to speed up if needed.

I use the rope to tie as a neck rope connected to the halter when just hanging outside the pasture together or not connected to the halter when riding bareback and bridleless.

I also use the rope as a type of placeholder, draped over my horse’s neck, right before I put the halter on. And sometimes I will just drape the rope over my horse’s neck and use only the rope to lead him.

However, I never use the rope to hit my horse, scare my horse, yank on my horse, or punish my horse. It is an assistance tool, not something my horse should be afraid of.

3. Whip – 48” Driving Whip – a cotton thread covered shaft with a lacquer finish and a slim durogrip handle with cap.

Why:

  • I like this whip because it can be used for multiple purposes.
  • If I hold the rope along with the whip, it can be used as an extension of my arm to guide my horse.
  • If I release the whip line, which has a 6” tassel, I can use it as a lunge whip or as a directional aid when training at a distance.
  • It’s not too long or too short. It’s the perfect length for me.

When I use this – Of course I use this whenever I feel the need to keep myself at a distance from my horse. I will also use this when lunging at a distance.

I will use this when working at liberty with my horses as well. When my horse and I are walking together or trotting next to each other in the arena, I will move the whip back and forth holding the line close to the handle, in order to add space between us if and when needed.

I will use it as an extension of my arm to direct my horse at liberty and at a distance, guiding him in the direction I’d like.

I will release the rope from the whip handle to add more distance between me and my horse and further the extension of my requests. Especially, when I ask my horse to move out for lunging and to increase or decrease the pace.

I use it as a part of my body language to help communicate my requests at a distance when working at liberty.

However, I never use the whip to hit my horse or punish my horse. And I don’t always use a whip. When my body language with my horse has been fine-tuned and I can communicate just using subtle cues, I won’t use a whip.

These are just a few little things that I use and why I use them. They are my preferences because of my experiences, my horses, and how I do my training.

What are some of your preferences and tools of the trade you can’t do without?

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