As I wrote before, Cassie doesn’t like any kind of restriction around her head, so I have been trying different ways to bridle her to find our what she finds acceptable. After trying the Dr. Cooks bridle and the rocking S bit, neither of which really worked out, I’ve spent a lot of time researching and comparing different kinds of bridles, looking for something that is light and unrestrictive and doesn’t work by putting pressure on the nose or poll. I finally came across the Enduro bridle. I liked the look of it and it was not expensive, so I ordered one. It arrived last week in a small plastic bag, coiled like a new lead-rope.
The Enduro is made by the Australian company Lodge Ropes and it is basically a re-designed rope head-collar. The difference is that there is no pressure on the nose. There are loops on either side of the noseband, and the reins and chin-strap are attached to these loops. If the reins are used independently, the bridle works like a sidepull. If the reins are used simultaneously, the loops lift the chinstrap, giving the horse a light cue in the chin groove to slow down. The chinstrap also has a loop for attaching a lead rope.
We went out for a hack with Maíre and Ben yesterday and I rode Cassie in the Enduro. I hadn’t had the chance to put it on her earlier in the week to try it out, but it slips on exactly like a rope head-collar and Cassie accepted it as matter-of-factly as I put it on. All I had to do was experiment a bit with the position of the chin-strap to make sure it was in the right position. It was rather loose, I could probably tighten it a bit for Cassie’s fine muzzle, but I haven’t quite worked out how to do this yet and as I don’t use my reins for breaks I didn’t think it mattered all that much. The Enduro doesn’t look like a bridle and there is no browband, but that doesn’t bother me. I think the minimalist look suits Cassie’s face really well.
We had a lovely ride. It was a beautiful morning, with the scent of spring in the air. The sun came out for a while and for the first time in months I was almost too warm in my jacket. Cassie was enjoying herself and acted as if she had been trotting around in the Enduro for years. She stayed soft and calm even when I took up a bit of contact, which told me she didn’t experience any form of pressure. When I asked her to halt, she responded without getting flustered, even though Maíre and Ben were moving away from us.
The bridle comes supplied with 10 mm rope reins, which I love. I have rope reins for Minnie, but they were too short for Cassie. The reins that came with the Enduro were more generous in length. We trotted up a long slope and when we gave the horses a little break at the top of the hill, Cassie could graze easily without me having to lean over her neck to let her reach the ground.
After our first ride in the Enduro, I am pleased with it. It is very light and gentle, and I think the rope lets you feel very subtle nuances much better than leather. When I took the bridle off after our ride there were no marks anywhere on Cassie’s head, which was good to see. Yes, I really like this bridle and more importantly, it seems to suit Cassie too.
I was also very pleased with the timing of our ride; we only just made it back before the weather turned and unleashed a hail storm. The horses didn’t seem to mind, but we were much happier inside with coffee and chocolate biscuits.