Bear with me…as with just about everything I do, there’s usually a “why” for it…and an accompanying story.
Funny enough, I have a minimalist of a pony, especially when it comes to tack. It’s taken me a while to realize this, but the less stuff on her face, the happier she is. Too much material, especially around/behind her ears, makes her sweat, which in turns makes her itch. End result of that is she then tries to over-enthusiastically remove the paint from whatever surface she is tied next to (vehicle, horse trailer, railing) by virtue of her itching and scrubbing her face against said surface.
My trailer ended up with more than one scratch in the paint from her rubbing before I was able to remove her headstall. (Powder coating being rubbed by metal buckles does not end well.)
The other thing I struggle with is that she doesn’t have a whole lot of surface area on her face. “Pea head” is the term used on more than one occasion. And as lovely as all of my halter-bridle combos are, they don’t work as well in conjunction with an s-hack when there is limited space available. The struggle I ran into was that in order to get the s-hack high enough on her nose, the chin strap would end up cross right on top of the underside of the halter noseband, which meant it wasn’t engaging with her chin the way it should. (Translation: Less brakes and slower pony response time than I like.) Also, her ground manners are less than stellar in flat halters. (Read: “Let me run right through you during a trot-out.”)
(Interestingly enough, if you look at a bunch of my ride photos, I used the Zilco equivalent of this set-up and never had a problem with space…it was only when I stopped using Zilco and switched to beta that I noticed this, so obviously the proportions of the Zilco halters are different.)
I’ve also used the add-on headstall over a rope halter idea. Her ground manners are much better when I have to lead with that, but I’ll be honest: I don’t love the look of the s-hack with a rope halter. Call me shallow, but…”If you can’t ride fast, ride pretty.” (Or just blame my show background.)
|To me, this is just “too much stuff” crammed
on her pretty little face.
I’ve used the standard western headstall set-up (browband, throatlatch) with the s-hack before and it has worked well, but it was still more than what I really needed — browband and two crownpieces behind the ears.
I really liked the look of the clean-line, simple headstalls, so that’s what I ended up getting:
Mimi’s is, of course, purple.
I haven’t had the chance to test it super-thoroughly (as compared to 25/50-mile rides/long training rides with the other set-ups) but the advantage of riding a horse for as long as I have her is I know when something works for her. And so far, I think this is working.
It’s definitely been warm enough to generate the itchy, sweat pony effect, and the fact she’s not throwing her head into my arms to “get this off me, now” is a good sign. It’s also plenty secure, I was able to make all the adjustments needed, and as with all things Taylored Tack, the workmanship is gorgeous. I love how clean-line of a look it is, and it really sets off her pretty little head.
As far as leading/halter underneath…Mimi leads just fine from the s-hack. She yields to pressure from the noseband and chinstrap, and if need be, I do carry a small rope halter in my pack for ER purposes.
This will definitely be a set-up I revisit in the future for any additional pea-headed horses.
Now I’m itching to add a custom TT breastcollar to Mimi’s tack collection, since I’ve never actually found a breastcollar to date that I’ve been completely satisfied with how it has fit her…