I have been amazed at how many of you have met horses with split tongues like my Mort. Typical me, I spent a lot of time dwelling on the where's, when's and why's. It's how I while away the hours when I'm cleaning my stalls.
How old were you when you learned to not tie your horse with the reins? I can't tell you when I learned that one for sure, but I was pretty old.
The stable I learned to ride at kept all of their dudes bridled and tied with knotted split reins.
I did the same. So did everybody I knew. We were backed by the Cartwrights and John Wayne.
We had a tie rail in front of the house my parents moved to while I was in college. I would ride all morning, give Mort a drink, and leave him tied to the rail while I went in for lunch. He would spend all day in that bit.
I made sure it was a bridle with a brow band and throat latch, because he was an escape artist.
Is that how all those tongues got lacerated?
Watch a horse suck back, tied with a broken mouth piece, long shanked, heavily chained bit, and good quality leather reins. How do you think that story is going to play out?
I shudder at the stupid things we did, and still our horses and us survived.
You don't see those tortured tongues so much anymore because people have learned to only tie with a halter.
Could I be on to something?
My boss and I were talking about the Where Are All The Good Horses post. We came up with a few thoughts on that one. We both realized the horses we had as kids didn't know a damn thing. They couldn't take a lead off a cue if their life depended on it. They barely neck reined, they didn't back, I mean they knew nothing.
Except every single one of them would head down the road.
They were partners in our ignorance. They would walk, trot and lope. That was about it.
I think the priorities of what constituted a horse that was ready to sell were vastly different than they are today.
A horse needed to be tolerant. Remember sacking out? Rough maybe, but I never got tossed putting on my jacket by a horse that had been properly sacked out.
A horse needed to be willing to travel. Nobody I knew had an indoor arena. Hell, I had to ride a long ways to get to any kind of arena. Horse trailers were a luxury. Even the people that had them only put a horse in them if their destination was more than five miles away.
How many of you old folks (me included, ahem) remember how many people rode to the Friday Night Gymkhana?
There were lots.
They rode bareback, in poorly fitted saddles, saddle blankets optional, in halters, curbs, snaffles, whatever was available.
All of this was thrown at a horse before they ever thought of a roll back or a lead change.
We showed them all day at our local clubs, in every class, before we had even heard of a roll back.
We didn't play the 7 games, or waste space with a round pen. Clinics were where you went to get doctored after your horse pile drove you into the dirt.
We rode them first. Then we trained them.
I'm not nostalgic for the days bygone. I love the level I'm at with my riding ability. I want my tack to fit, and my horse to be safe. I can't imagine being responsible for one of those horrible split tongues. I'm aware of how lucky I am that I never seriously hurt myself, or my horse.
I like riding inside. A lot.
I love good dirt. So do my horses.
But somehow we've gotten off track. The whole point is to ride them, isn't it? I don't know about you, but I'm embarrassed when my yellow mare refuses to get mud on her feet. Don't get me started on crossing water.
She is a big, fat, arena baby sissy. I am about over it. I think we are doing thing backwards.
She should have spent the first few years of her riding life learning to go for a ride. Not getting ready for her big moment in the show pen. She is six now, and I'm just getting around to teaching her how to be broke. She's real well trained though.
I'm just saying.