The lovely new black headstall that I got for Red, to match his black saddle, doesn't fit him very well. It's supposedly a normal horse size, and it's from Tucker, a pretty mainstream manufacturer. Red isn't particularly large - he's 15 hands and normally wears a headstall only one hole larger in the cheekpieces and throat latch than Dawn, who is a fairly feminine 15.1 thoroughbred mare. Red's head is nowhere near as large as Pie's - Pie uses a 5.5 inch bit and has to have a one-ear bridle because I've been unable to find him a headstall where the browband and throat latch aren't way too short - even his side pull had to have an extra extender strap added to the noseband and he can only wear a halter with an adjustable noseband. But Red does have a very masculine head, with a well-defined jaw and forehead.
Anyway, the new bridle is a bit too tight in the brow band, and also just barely adequate in the throat latch on the last hole. And it's a bit delicate for Red's face, although the tooling is beautiful. What's up with this sizing issue? Are Quarter Horses only being produced in petite these days?
So, Dawn's getting a new bridle and will be very pretty in it. I haven't tried it on her yet, but expect it will fit her perfectly, and it'll go very nicely with her black dressage saddle and saddle pad. Red is keeping the new Mylar bit and reins, which he's happy with, and will be using his old (natural) headstall - it's very nice but doesn't match his saddle. But then I have lots of tack that doesn't match - I use Western saddles with English bridles (without nosebands) or vice versa and I'm happy with that. Pie didn't get any new tack, but he doesn't care as long as there's enough hay . . .
The horses got their first full day of turnout today since the latest cold snap, so this afternoon, finally, I rode. Red and Pie both had 7 days off, and although it was in the 20s and windy - banging arena door and howling wind and buzzing roof - I just got on and rode like I always do and they were both just about perfect. So long as I put the feel of the transition into my body before asking Red to do it - feeling as if I were moving from walk to trot or back again - and keep my contact soft, there was no problem. If I failed to do that, there was only occasional bracing. Red kept all of the learning we'd gained in our last three days of work despite the long layoff. I'd say he's at about 70 to 80% now with perfect transitions.
Pie was also wonderful. We were in a very crowded ring, but he just motored around in a lovely, soft, forward trot, and so long as I kept my position neutral and eyes up, his corners were wonderful, deep and round.
It was such a delight to ride again - I usually ride at least one horse, and usually two or three, every day except Sunday, and it had been too long. May spring come soon . . .