Colt’s New Bridle

Colter has needed a new bridle since I met him. He’s a big boy, clocking in at 17.2 hands tall, and his head is gargantuan. For reference, here is a picture of Colt standing beside me. I am 5’9″.

The horse’s head is the size of my torso, y’all. Notice he isn’t wearing a noseband in the picture. That’s because I removed it from that bridle- it was too small. The bridle he is wearing is a full/horse-sized bridle, and it didn’t fit him at all. The browband was too narrow and the cheekpieces were set one hole up from the bottom. The throatlatch was always buckled on the last hole. Colt hated this bridle- he was reluctant to let me put it on him, and once it was on, he spent his time flipping and shaking his head in an effort to remove it.

Sharing a bridle with Moe or Gina was out of the question. Moe wears a cob-sized bridle that fits Gina reasonably well; they share a bit that is far too narrow for Colt’s mouth. I have a couple of other bridles floating around in tack trunks and trailers, but all are horse-sized, as none of my horses have been giant warmbloods.
I emailed Colt’s owner a few months ago about buying him a new bridle; he emailed me back to say he’d work on it. Colt’s owner is a busy attorney with young children, so I don’t hold it against him at all that he didn’t find time to get a bridle shipped to the rider of his sat-in-a-pasture-for-five-years horse. 

I finally got around to buying Colt an inexpensive bridle from SmartPak about a month ago. It’s the Plymouth Padded Fancy Stitch Bridle; at $70, I didn’t feel like I was breaking the bank to buy a bridle for a horse that I don’t own. (I don’t foresee myself reusing this bridle on another mount; I don’t plan to acquire any large warmbloods in the future.) I bought the over-sized, figuring it would be perfect for Colt.
Out of the box, it was soft, supple, and a beautiful color. It looked big, but so does Colter’s head. When I took it out to the barn to fit it to him, I was extremely surprised at just how big it is. This bridle is legitimately huge. The browband juts out about an inch from Colt’s forehead, but I think that’s due to it being new and needing to be broken in some more. The throatlatch and cheekpieces are on the top holes; the bit seems a little low in Colt’s mouth, but he appears to enjoy it. The noseband is adjusted about two holes from the top, but buckles perfectly around his nose. The reins are very, very long. 
Um, who knew Colter was so freaking cute?
Notice the browband. And the catalog-model pose he has.
Buckles at/near the top.
Ridiculously long reins.
The fancy stitching is very fancy.

Overall, I’m happy with the bridle. It fits Colter well enough (though I’ll probably punch some holes in it all the same) and looks good on him. The leather is holding up well and is nice and supple. I’d recommend this bridle, but would definitely advise buying a smaller size than what your horse normally wears. I imagine the over-sized would fit a draft horse or very large warmblood just fine. I can’t fault SmartPak for the size, really- I ordered it, and it is definitely oversized. They make a damn fine bridle for a damn good price.

As mentioned, I bought this bridle; SmartPak didn’t compensate me to write this, but they did reply to my Tweeted picture of Colt in the bridle. That makes me internet-famous, right?

Supplements

Let’s take a minute to talk supplements.

I have never really considered myself a supplements person. Growing up, none of my horses received supplements. They didn’t really even receive much feed. They ate well-kept pasture for most of the year, good grass hay in the winter, always had fresh water and a mineral block, and got grain when I was riding them regularly. This worked perfectly well for them. But I secretly pined for supplements, especially those in sleek little SmartPaks. I remember receiving their catalog in the mail and being awed by pages after pages of products guaranteed to make my horses shiny or flexible or calm or fat. I really liked the neat little packages they came in. (Hey, I was 12.) But my horses simply didn’t need extras; they were fit, healthy, and happy.

Fast forward to college. Moe arrived after a miserable, horseless freshman year. I boarded him with a group of friends at a variety of facilities. The moves were not kind to my delicate Thoroughbred. He lost weight, and the more grain I fed him, the more excitable he got. (I still think he lost the weight just running around the pasture.) I decided Moe needed supplements. First, I tried corn oil. It was cheap, and I’d heard it’d add weight and shiny hair coat to a horse without adding excess energy. This was somewhat true; Moe was shiny. But he didn’t gain much weight. A friend suggested I add apple-cider vinegar to his feed to help his digestion and keep away rain rot. It did seem to help with his chronic rain rot; whether it helped with digestion, I couldn’t say. But Moe ate it happily, with his corn oil, sweet feed, and soggy beet pulp. And though he didn’t gain much weight, he didn’t lose any, either.

Let’s talk about a month ago. When I was rifling through the trunks in the horse trailer, I came across a whiteboard with Moe’s college-era feed chart still scrawled on it. I stared at it as if it were written in another language. Moe’s feed chart read:

AM Feeding: 3 pounds sweet feed, 1 pound beet pulp, 1 cup corn oil, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
PM Feeding: 3 pounds sweet feed, 1 pound beet pulp, 1 cup corn oil, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 scoop weight gainer powder, 1 scoop hoof powder, 1 scoop joint powder, 1 can beer

WHAT? I don’t remember that at all, but sure as I’m alive, I was apparently feeding my horse a can of beer every day. I also don’t recall having powdered supplements, either, but there they were, crusty tubs of 4 year old supplements. For what purpose I fed him the beer, I don’t know.

During the first couple of weeks he was in Oklahoma, I noticed Moe was a bit creakier and stiffer than usual. I wasn’t overly concerned- he was coming off a three year retirement and was now a senior citizen at 17 years old. For the second time in my life, I decided Moe needed supplements.

This time, instead of taking folksy advice from vaguely horsey people and friends, I did some research. I ordered Moe MSM for his joints, BioFlax for his hooves, and a digestive supplement to support his aging gut. The senior horses at my workplace receive a similar combination and I knew what a success it was.

After less than a week, I noticed Moe was moving smoother, had more energy, and was much more himself. After a month, I haven’t noticed any real weight loss or signs of digestive upset, and even in this awful drought his hooves are holding up well.

And the best part of all? I finally have my tidy, organized SmartPaks.