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Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A thought, a Rev, and a ?


Here's the easiest way to find out if your horse needs those extra groceries.  Feed her the "extras" diligently every day.  For months.  Then, accidentally run out of beet pulp for a week.  Then get the beetpulp and realize you don't have a knife to cut open the bag.  Since the prospect of tearing into the [censored] nylon strand bag with your bare hands or the truck keys doesn't appeal, instead decide it can wait a couple of days until you DO remember to bring the knife.  Now give your wonderful girl a good night massage. Realize that you can almost see rib and there's definitely less fat cover.  Say "[censored]" and "[deleted]" because you spent the all of 2009 fattening her up to a BC of 5.5 and you are back down to a 5, and almost in 4.5 territory. 


Her teeth get looked at Monday (shouldn't need to be done, but I don't want to take chances with this hard working girl). 


Obviously, even though she's not working as hard as usual right now, winter nights require fuel! 


Revelation # ?(who knows or cares!)

I blame my inability to refer to Farley's "feet" as "hooves" on the word "Barefoot".  How can I possibly be expected to refer to my barefoot horse's hooves?


The Question

Long billets or short billets?  I will ride in a saddle with one or the other, convince my self that whatever my current set up is the best and I couldn't possibly be happy with the other setup….until my saddle situation changes again and fall in love with the other one.  I'll probably need to send my saddle in for reflocking this year and might change the billets… let's hear it!  What is your preference and why?
and lastly.....
As usual my desire for conciseness is overrun by my desire to respond to comments.
Heather - With my fear of dogs I feel the same way that people are judging me - it wasn't until I got older that I was comfortable enough to say "who the heck cares if they know I'm scared!" and would ask the owner to do whatever was necessary to make me feel comfortable - whether it is asking a hiker to please recall their dog NOW, or quizzing someone on the phone about their dog situation.  So yeah....I know what you mean about the 2 trains of throught.  In someways my internal fears are more manageable than the "what are other people thinking!!!!!" (also, as I write that statement it seems rather silly).
Reins are almost as personnal as bits for a horse, in my opinion.  So....I tried the biothane reins.  I bought nice hought ones to go with my hought breast collar.  This was AFTER having 2 sets of $30 reins disinigrate on 2 consecutive rides.  I was determined that was NOT going to happen again.  Unfortunately, I HATED them.  I rode a couple of conditioning rides with them, then rode one endurance ride with them.  They were heavy, they bounced as the horse moved AND (here was the deal breaker) they slipped down if I loosened my grip at all.  They would slip very fast and before I knew it my reins would be on the ground.  I had a couple of near misses with them as I scrambled to get the reins back before Minx stepped in them.  Then, at the start of the endurance race, it happened again, but unfortunately she stepped through them before I could get them back.  So, we are at the start of the race with horses milling around and Minx is spinning around and around with the reins caught around her front legs and and TRYING to get off, which is harder than it sounds when it's a 16 hand horse that's leaping and spinning in circles.  Alls well that ends well (I guess), but I sold the reins after that ride for a deeply discounted price to just get them out of my tack room. 
I've had really good luck with various thicknesses and shapes of rope reins.  Depending on which gloves I want to wear and what kind of riding (if it's going to be mostly one handed or two) I'll be doing on the trail, I have 2 or 3 different reins to chose from.  They are durable.  My only complaint is that they get stiff and icky with age, and I dislike the nylon because of the risk of rope burn, but they also launder well and I'm willing to replace them as they age. 
Those of you who DO use biothane or beta reins, what do you use?  Is it just the straight biothane, or does having that grippy stuff on them help?  Do you get used to the weight?  Is there a type that doesn't bounce as you trot?  I'd be willing to get another set to try if I thought they would work. 


  1. I use the narrower (1 3/4 inch?) beta biothane with no grippy stuff and no shiny stuff. It's just a 10foot plain stick of purple beta with clips on each end. (Fiddle has a very long neck/head--normal endurance horses probably don't need reins that long!) I find that it feels like my leather reins, approx. same weight and texture, but I don't have to worry about scooping water onto them.

    Wider reins are harder for me to hold. I have mild arthritis in my hands--doesn't usually bother me, but holding wider reins or especially rope reins is too much effort and my hands cramp! Jim uses the wider beta biothane and prefers that.

  2. I can't help with the reins since I don't use rope/biothane/beta, but as for the billets, somehow I've ended up with a dressage saddle with the obviously long billets, and a jump saddle that also has long billets. Obviously dressage saddles predominently have long billets so that's that, but it's not common to see a jumping saddle with them. What I DON'T like about them is that there are only two straps instead of three. If something were to happen on course or out in the field somewhere away from home and one strap failed, I wouldn't have an extra strap to fall back on. I wonder very occasionally if gallop work causes them to pinch at all but it hasn't seemed to. What I like best is that I don't have a bulky girth sitting under my leg while galloping. It makes for a much more sublte connection.

  3. I have the same reins as Aarene but in blue. =) Love them. They are a bit long, but I solve this by making a second loop with the excess between my hands and then just putting about the middle of that loop into my left hand with the rein. It works for me. I have real issues with letting the excess just hang and only weigh down one side. Some odd personal fetish thing, they must FEEL balanced. I rode a friends horse with the Zilco reins and the softer rubber bumpy grips (not that horrible velcro like stuff they also have). I really liked those as well and would be happy with a pair.

    I have shorter billets on my Solstice and have had no issues. My horses are generally shaped as such that I can't feel the girth under my leg at all. I think it will really depend upon horse conformation and personal preference. If I had a horse prone to girth galls, I'd probably want shorter billets to help eliminate the buckle being in a potential problem area.

  4. I have narrow beta reins - maybe 1/2" or 3/8", I'll have to check. They "feel" almost like leather to me. My leather gloves grip them just fine. I got single-piece roping style because I am inclined to drop a split rein just like you did. ;) They're a bit too short for my giraffe necked beast, but they work for now.

    I cannot stand rope reins. I don't like the bulk in my fingers! For the same reason, I don't think I'd like biothane with the grippy nubby stuff. Ick.

  5. You do not need a knift to open the bag. The string is made to unravel when you get a hold of the right end. Look at the string, and see how it is stitched. One side will have "loops" in the stitching. The loops will face one direction. On the end that the curved end of each loop faces, grab one of the little stings/stictch ends, and tug, then find the end on te other side, and tug. It will unravel like a sweater. lol

    I use the flat braided nylon "cord" reins. I have little knots in them at te perfect spot for my hands. I ride rather loose with my fingers, but this way, they don't slip through my hands. Favorite reins ever for distance riding.

  6. Short billets -- easier to tighten girth from the saddle. I HATE having to tighten my dressage girth while mounted, even though my very patient horse doesn't do silly things.

  7. What rope reins are you using that got stiff with age? I'm using the first rope reins on Chief that he's ever had, same for all of my horses - I like them so stick with them and use along with a rommel. It's great for tailing (or a quick longe-line) but also because it's very convenient for tying the horse, trailering out to mark trail, etc. and not needing to have along any extra ropes.

    I like the thickness of the rope reins on the really cold or wet rides because it's easier for me to grip, esp. with bulkier gloves on.

  8. I use a flat braid rein that has stayed as soft as the day i bought them. However a pair of round reins (nylon) I got in a trade (same material as nylon leadropes) are getting stiff. Probably a different type of material. It sounds like i just need to find round reins of the right material. I really like the round ones, just not how they aged.

  9. I know that you are not able to really check blogs at work, but I hope that the pictures from my blog show up on reader because I LOVE my new reins. They are just the right size and super comfy. I have no idea what material they are made of, but according to Jochen he created them so that if they get wet they will start to get tacky instead of slick.


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