A few weeks ago I decided to fancy up Cello’s browband on a whim. I bought some beads & some silver jewelry wire and went to town. Not the best photo, but you get the idea.
I put smaller beads on the outside of the large beads, strung the wire, measured the browband and centered the beads… then with a painters nail and hammer I made two holes, then twisted the wires together on the back. Took a piece from my old leather couch and glued it over the wire for comfort! Turned out looking nice, I was pretty happy with it. That browband went on the bridle I’ve been using most for Cello, since he came home nice and soft from Justins. Here’s a few pictures of the converted English sidepull:
So, what exactly is going on here? A few different things. When I disassembled and reassembled the bridle I ran into a few issues fixed through trial and error to get to this stage. Step one was obvious: remove the bit from the headstall, and remove the reins from the bit!! Goodbye bits! Step two was to was to attach the loose headstall ends (where the bit lived) to the noseband. Make sure you put the headstall BEHIND the noseband’s strap, not in front- otherwise the headstall will be too close to the horse’s eye. Step three was to attach the reins to the noseband and headstall straps, so that the two straps are encircled by the reins and the reins sit just on top of the noseband. This step took some haggling- I almost couldn’t get the reins to fit around such a wide, flat surface but it did happen eventually. Lots of tugging. Step Four was the zip ties. I know, I know- zip ties, not classy. At least I went with black! And I will be replacing them with the leather thong strings you can buy in the craft section. The zip ties are a little tricky- they go INBETWEEN the noseband strap and the headstall, behind the noseband (facing the horse) and come up around the outside of the rein to zip together. Their purpose is to prevent the reins from riding UP towards the horse’s eye. I found this out on a trail ride! The reins seemed secure at the bottom but rode up the headstall- I had to keep flexing Cello to fix them. They don’t bear much weight, they just provide minimal resistance to keep the reins from sliding. Most of the pressure on the reins goes low and back, so leather ties will work just as well as zip ties. No one has even noticed the zip ties until I point them out- I’ve had a lot of people come up to me and ask about the conversion!
When Cello was at Justin’s I couldn’t test out my English conversion (he was 3 hours away!) and, sure enough, it took some rides to dial the convert in. In the meantime I ordered this hemp sidepull attachment piece from the Etsy store mentioned in the beginning of this post. I LOVE it! The headstall attaches to the large loop, and the reins to the smaller loop, and voila- a sidepull is born, this one a bit more hefty. If Cello hadn’t come home so soft and responsive from Justin, I would need more brakes than the soft English leather would have applied. Justin starts in rawhide sidepulls, which can have a little “bite” if the horse really isn’t listening. The hemp is the same way. A few people voiced concerns about rubbing and roughness, but really the design is pretty smooth. Also, sidepulls are not meant to be tight on the horse’s face. This piece isn’t floppy but doesn’t fit snugly either. Sidepulls are not hackamores- there is no pressure on the poll or the chin, and your hands are not multiplied by leverage. Google the difference for more solid explanations on that, but the point is the hemp never TIGHTENS on his face. It is super strong as well- the lead rope was weight tested to 180lbs of pressure, still didn’t break, and she doubled the strength on the custom attachment I ordered (I own a mustang who has busted multiple halters, so I’m a little paranoid!)
These riggings aside, I am waiting for Justin Dunn’s sidepull to come out from Buckaroo Leather. I can’t wait to see how it’s finalized. They will be custom to your mustang, with their individual brand on the headstall, and their mane/tail hair braided into the noseband. I told you I’m having tack obsession problems!
I’ll leave you with a picture of Cello enjoying a carrot.
Cello & Dani