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I think this is horrible...

21 replies

50ShadesOfSaggy · 09/07/2012 11:41

I've seen and used many controller headcollars, but these are disgusting. Naked chain across a horses nasal bone!
If a horse is that bad to lead, just put a bit in its mouth!

OP posts:
frostyfingers · 09/07/2012 16:04

Blimey - where did you find that? It looks like a piece of medeival tack.

Backinthebox · 09/07/2012 16:08

Ah, yes. Because inexperienced use of a chiffney is much better!

It's very difficult to see from that tiny photo whether it is a headcollar with a chain attached, or an impromtu device made to stop an overexcited horse from causing havoc on a showground. Some horses are still not possible to hold with a bit in their mouth. In racing and dealing with youngstock, especially colts, it is not uncommon practice to use a lead chain threaded through the headcollar.

There are far more things I can get disgusted about than a chain not in play across a horse's nose. Bad hands are worse than bad kit any day.

50ShadesOfSaggy · 09/07/2012 17:32

I never mentioned a Chifney. I would NEVER sanction use of a Chifney. EVER!
It is a headcollar marketed by Eskadron. It has the chain threaded through loops attached around the nose of the headcollar.
The naked chain goes over the boniest part of the horses nose. No padding, no flesh. I'm sorry, but I disagree that bad hands are worse, in the wrong hands this could cause serious damage to a horse, I've seen one with permanent scarring from just that.
Training aids, controllers, secondary aids and schooling equipment, can all be Torture devices in the wrong hands and are usually unnecessary.
The pony in the picture is a child's pony. That piece of equipment is in a child's hands!

OP posts:
Backinthebox · 09/07/2012 19:03

But 50Shades, it is actually just a form of headcollar and stallion chain, a method of controlling extremely difficult horses that has been around for ages. A stallion chain is a chain looped over the nose or through the mouth of the horse, it is very easy to fit them badly. The halter you have linked to is actually designed with loops for the chain to sit in the correct position, hence less likely to cause damage in the wrong hands. The principle it uses is that of control and release - ie, the pressure is only applied when the horse misbehaves, and is released when the horse behaves again.

I worry about the fact that you claim to have used lots of controller headcollars yet don't seem to have much of a grasp of the kind of behaviour in a horse that really needs these. As I said, the right equipment in the wrong hands can do a lot of damage, whereas equipment designed for tricky horses in sympathetic hands can do a lot of good. I had a horse once (a 750kg youngster) who needed a good deal of explaining to why his behaviour was unacceptable - 17.3hh of big Irish Draught on his back legs doing his best Kevin the Teenager impression was a lot of horse above you! A few months with a control headcollar, and this horse was leadable by a child, and remained a thoroughly lovely horse the whole time I owned him. But stiff treatment was needed initially to get him going in the right direction in life.

There are many pieces of kit that, as you correctly say, can all be torture devices in the wrong hands, but I am unsure why you say you 'disagree that bad hands are worse' than bad kit. A snaffle fitted and applied incorrectly can cause discomfort and damage to a horse, a bitless bridle is not necessarily kinder than a bit, and the number of gags I see being used harshly makes me weep sometimes. You see white hairs on horses' tails and legs from bandages being fitted to tightly and left on for too long, horses with marks from spurs used by nagging legs, noses distorted by over-tight flash nosebands. In the show rig the Swales is super-fashionable right now, a horrific bit capable of real and serious damage, fine in the hands of an experienced rider on a strong horse, but the amateurs see them and put their own horses in them because XXX has a cob in one, etc. Ignorance plays the biggest part in damage to horses by harsh kit.

The problem of strong kit can be best summed up by thinking about schooling whips. How often do you see a rider schooling their horse, nag, nag, nagging away at their horse with constant little flicks of the whip, either because they don't realise they are doing it or because they lack the conviction to use it once and use it properly. The horse switches off the the gentle constant use of the whip, and is genuinely surprised when it is used to give a proper reminder that subtle use of the leg should be sufficient. It is the same with this headcollar - lead a horse around with it a bit tight, and it is both annoying and ineffective. It should only come into play when it is needed, and the signal should be clear and brief.

As for "That piece of equipment is in a child's hands!" you are right - it has no place in any childs' hands. The tiny picture you show, though, does not show the child, or their hands. Nor is it the picture Eskadron use for their advertising. They show a large grey horse, and advise that the equipment needs to be used with skill and consideration by the handler. They also sell replacement chain rings as the chain has safety links built in - unlike the good old-fashioned stallion chain!

50ShadesOfSaggy · 09/07/2012 21:41

I'm sorry if the picture is small, I cropped it on my iPhone to remove the child, for Id reasons. It doesn't look small to me.

I think that bad equipment is worse than bad hands, because as you say, there are many forms of gadget, most of which are Ill used by amateurs, and inflict many many different tortures on a horse. Bad hands are just one.
Ok, I'll admit that in certain cases, ie large horses or stallions, use of a chain, much as it galls me to say this, may be helpful. I still dont think over the nose is necessary. It's been a long time since I did much with hunters or Suffolks, so my big horse stuff is a bit distant. As a rule, we never needed much more than a bridle.
I've got plenty of experience of bad behaviour, we breed and break.
I just think that in most cases, there are other more humane ways of teaching good behaviour.
Most of the time, problems are caused by humans stupidity and ignorance, and gadgets just make things worse. That headcollar isn't fitted properly for a start.
Making and marketing a headcollar like that, and making it freely available to idiots is encouraging cruelty.
It's like a Dutch gag. All to often used to compensate for bad riding, freely available, and not used properly or appropriately.

OP posts:
bishboschone · 09/07/2012 21:48

Isn't that just a head collar with a leadrope threaded back through?. I don't have horses anymore but I use to lead my jumping pony like this . She was very highly strung . It wasn't cruel, it works like a halti on a dog and gives you more control. There is no banging on changing against the nose .

50ShadesOfSaggy · 09/07/2012 22:27

No. It's a chain not a rope.

OP posts:
AlpinePony · 10/07/2012 06:15

Looks like a "dually" with a chain rather than a rope so would work in the same way as the Monty Roberts endorsed halter.

Appropriate on some occasions and never for turnout.

Imo way, way too many people strap their horses up/down with bollocks.

I'm probably one of the few here who rides in a plain eggbut snaffle with cavesson. No flash, no martingale. ;)

I think there's a time and a place for most equipment, trouble is it's a free market and you can spend your $ how you like.

Backinthebox · 10/07/2012 10:32

Snaffle and cavesson here too. I bang my head against the wall sometimes when the girl who rides my horse wants to put him in a gag, because 'he pulls.' I've ridden pullers, and mine isn't a puller! I had a cob once that I WAS prepared to bit up to the eyeballs, because he had a neck like a bull and a mouth made of concrete, and no respect for staying behind the fieldmaster out hunting. He was in a snaffle at home. The right kit in the right hands at the right time is useful. The wrong kit in the wrong hands at any time is dangerous. Sadly, as AlpinePony says, people with no idea can buy and use what they want. That doesn't mean that particular bit of kit should be banned though.

horseygeorgie · 11/07/2012 22:23

worked with stallions for years, used them on a regular basis. Plus on my hunter mare. Most of the time they are not in operation, horse knows its there and thats it, end of discussion. Personally is a stallion is being a handful i don't care how uncomfortable his nose might be for a few seconds, it DANGEROUS to have an out of control horse, especially one with balls on.

horseygeorgie · 11/07/2012 22:25

plus, i have no problem with chifneys, have used them for years. Damn handy bit of kit.
The problem, as ever, is the people who use them.

AlpinePony · 12/07/2012 06:14

"one with balls on"! :)

frostyfingers · 12/07/2012 08:44

My ex pointer hacks out in a plain snaffle, only when we go "out" do I up it to a French link and running martingale as he just gets over strong for me, and loses his brain (well, being a TB what little brain he does have!). When I first got him I took him out several times with the snaffle only (and a neck strap), and had a torrid time so upped it a small amount, and although he's still quite strong it is manageable.

My previous TB had a Waterford snaffle, which is a strong bit, but I had the alternative of hauling and hauling at him in a lesser bit, or only needing a light touch with the Waterford - again we only used it on outings.

There are so many choices now, and I think we are seduced by the lure of a quick fix, when usually something else needs fixing first.

Thistledew · 12/07/2012 14:14

I wonder if I should have had one of those for my 12.2 New Forest pony. Some days he would be fine, but other days would be a complete thug, both at home and at competitions. He was completely impossible to hold in hand when he decided to take off. At shows, my 6ft, well, built dad would lead him, always using gloves and a lunge line attached to his bit, but there were more times that I care to remember that he just took off and no-one could hold him then spent half an hour running around the boxes and being a real hazard. At home, when the fancy took him, he would take off, and would jump whatever fence was in his way, even out onto a (fortunately very quiet) road.

As you may have guessed, we did not keep him for very long, but it would have been good to have been a bit safer whilst we were trying to make it work. The reason that we did try to make it work after the first few times that he pulled the stunt was that he had a stupendously scopy jump - I remember having a flat lesson once, which he always found boring, so he took off with me and jumped a grid that had been set up for someone at the yard who was jumping BSJA discovery classes - backwards!

Fennijer · 12/07/2012 17:21

I have a friend with a 16.3hh eventer, when he is eventing fit, she would use a similar type head collar for safety reasons. She is a 5'4 size 8 lady, and would not stand a chance of holding him at an event if he was over excited and wanted to take off (He has actually taken off with her 6'3 husband who is well built!) I agree in the right hands it is a very good piece of kit.

Pixel · 12/07/2012 23:57

Saggy, hope I'm not hijacking your thread, but on the subject of horrible things I've just seen this fugly article on stacked shoes and it's made me feel sick. I mean, I knew about the chains and things and thought that horrendous enough, but to see the full horror... How is this legal? How can these farriers sleep at night?

Loshad · 13/07/2012 00:13

Pixel, it wouldn't be legal in the uk, that's a us site Sad
Used to be an issue with the showing of clydesdales in this country but most farriers seem to abide by code of practice, as do most judges.

Pixel · 13/07/2012 00:42

I know it's a U S site but they are supposed to be a 'modern' country with good education etc. I suppose I expected them to have similar views/laws on animal welfare to ours but obviously they don't. Sad.

horseygeorgie · 13/07/2012 11:04

the whole issue with tennasee walking horses is horrific. It is an appalling area of the horse world, including things like 'soreing' - using caustic chemicals on the skin so when the chains move on the leg it causes horrendous pain thus the horse lifts its legs higher. Then things like the reation test vets perform at shows - vets will feel carefully along the leg and watch very carefully for and sign of pain. Horses will be conditioned to not flinch by applying pain elsewhere in 'training' sessions if they move. To say nothing of the fact they have classes for 2 yr olds doing all this...

It is an interest of mine, mainly because i struggle to get my head around anything so barbaric performed in the public eye.

horseygeorgie · 13/07/2012 11:08

For those who may be interested this is an informative vid..

Not pleasant viewing though.

Of course, i'm sure there are loads of trainers who love their horses and wouldn't do this.
sleeplessinstafford · 16/07/2012 14:29

I would have very happily used one of those headcollars on my old horse, a beautiful 15hh h/w cob who was 99% angel, 1% stubborn nightmare. An experienced grown man could not hold him if he decided to go and sometimes he did, despite all the hours and hours of groundwork we did with him, must have worked through all of Kelly Marks' books about 100 times with him. He knew exactly what to do and worked brilliantly in hand when he wanted to but had a real stubborn streak in him, backed by 500kg of muscle. We used a dually on him but even in that you couldn't hold him without a lunge line if he wanted to go, I once witnessed him dragging a 14 stone man across the yard, down the driveway to the gate and then attempt to barge through (not over or around but through) the gate, when he took exeption to the farrier. We loved him to bits and wouldn't have changed him for the world (well, except maybe his manners) but he was the strongest horse I have ever known and we needed something strong to hold him. We did sometimes use chiffney on him as well, and a bridle, but dually seemed the best option for us. I would like to add that he was only ever handled by experienced people but then he was not a horse for novices.

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