I want to thank all who commented on my last post about bitless options. You gave me good things to think about. Zach - if you find the reasoning behind not using an s-hack comes to mind again, please share it, I'd love to hear. Everyone brought out some good points. I'm not convinced that bitless is for every horse/every rider - as Aarene pointed out, a harsh noseband in the wrong hands can be just as damaging and painful to the horse as a bit. I also agree with E.G. that it should not be the bridle that stops the horse. I think the only way a bridle actually can make the horse stop is if the horse is trained to respond to the pressure, or if the rein is tied to a solid post! For me, the goal is to quide Arabee with seat and legs and voice, and use rein pressure only to remind her I'm up there if she gets spooky, or if she needs to turn right NOW to avoide slamming my knee into a tree.
I rode for the first time again on New Year's Eve, and after that it became bitterly cold - too cold for me to ride in the stuff I have. The lined carhartt overalls I have are too stiff and immobile for me to consider riding in. For Christmas I received as a gift a pair of insulated riding pants, which unfortunately were too small, so I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of the right size so I can ride soon, hopefully. (or else temperatures above freezing!) So, I've been taking Arabee on walks along the road. I'm fairly certain all of the cars passing by think I'm absolutely nuts, judging by their faces. I walked her on New Years Day, Monday, and Tuesday too.
One of those days I tried on the old English Hackamore I have. Unfortunately, the headstall I have to hang it with is too big, and I have no room to adjust it. The nosepiece of the hackamore rested right on her nostrils, so I had no way to really even get a feel for how Arabee might respond in it. So that means I'm looking at having to get another headstall. I really like the idea of the kind that the browband has an extra loop that snaps around the halter, so you can leave the halter on all the time. But, even with the too-big headstall, I didn't really like the way the shank of the English Hackamore laid right along Arabee's lips - seems it would be very easy for her to grab it, rendering any rein aids useless. So if the S-Hack and the English Hackamore operate on the same principles, I'm leaning towards the S-Hack because of the shank design. I feel pretty leery of trying the halter bridle I talked about. I'm certain it would be fine to ride her in something like that on a steamy hot summer day, or in an arena any time - but I'm just concerned that the halter bridle may not be attention-getting enough on the trail if some horse-eating monster comes along.
I have a return that I will get store credit for as soon as I mail item in. So I have a few days yet to decide what it is I'm going to do. I think my husband is right - no matter what it is that I get, I won't really be happy with it. He says I'm too particular about what I want. I'm taking that as a compliment - shouldn't I be particular about my horse's comfort and my confidence that I'll be able to control her in all situations?