Ok, I have been sad and complaining lately on this blog, so today, I'm here to celebrate!
My birthday is coming up, and my parents decided to give me my presents early. They got me... Clinton Anderson slobber straps and mecate reins! For those of you who may not know what I'm talking about, here is a photo:
Clever readers will note that the horse in this photo looks very unlike the picture of Rocky I have posted on the left side of the blog- which is good! The lovely chestnut in this picture is a random photo I found on the internet, not my horse. I will take a picture of Rocky in his new getup the next time I am at the barn, but for now, this will suffice. Other disclaimer: the slobber straps and mecate reins in the photo are not Clinton Anderson's brand.
Ok, on to the fun stuff! The slobber straps are the leather pieces attached between the bit and the reins. Their function is to provide the horse with a pre-cue that you, the rider, have picked up the reins. It helps get horses lighter in their responses to pressure from the bit/reins. They have a chance to respond to a cue from the rider before pressure is put on the bit, thus, making them lighter to cue.
My reins are awesome. I love them with big, silly pink hearts, like the ones we used to make in elementary school for Valentine's Day, with the lacy trim. Here's why: they are a combination rein/lead rope/lunge line/riding crop that can be adjusted for length. Clinton Anderson's reins are 22 feet long, which means they fit ANY horse for length. I know a woman that had to search carefully for reins that would be long enough for her Cadillac-style horse. These reins are fully adjustable.
I know it looks like there are two reins coming out of the left side of the horse's mouth, but the bottom rope isn't part of the rein- that's where the lead rope/lunge line/riding crop part comes in. While you're riding, that long "extra" bit of rope gets tied off over your saddle horn, looped into your belt (NOT tied to you, just looped through your belt) or tied to your saddle's gullet. From there, you can see a bit of rope in the photo resting against the horse's shoulder. CA's reins are longer than the ones in the photo, and the end is weighed to make it a "popper"- or riding crop.
I used to carry a riding crop, and I would have to hold it in my hand or loop it over the saddle horn. Maybe I'm not the most dextrous person around, but the hand holding my crop couldn't move on the reins as easily as the other hand. If I had it on the saddle horn, sometimes it would poke me in the stomach or start to slide under Rocky's saddle pad. Essentially, it was a useful nuisance. Now I can pick up the end of my mecate rein, use the end to smack Rocky's butt when needed, and then drop it again. No more getting poked in the stomach or losing hand dexterity!
When I'm trail riding, I'll be able to dismount and use that extra long rope to lunge him or do sending exercises if he's scared of something. You can also tie a horse to a post with mecate reins- I haven't learned how to do it yet, but I will! You are never supposed to tie a horse with reins connected to a bit, but you can tie mecate reins in a way that the horse will not be able to pull back and pop themselves in the mouth. Oh, and I found a picture of CA's setup:
See, his reins are longer. These ones are white, but I got black ones. I figured I would get the white ones too dirty too fast. The slobber straps I got are almost the exact shade of brown as my saddle, and have a matching barbwire print. Yay matching!