Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Unsung Tack Heroes, part 1

I want to talk a bit about some pieces of tack and equipment that are, in my opinion, pretty darn awesome, but for some reason are not widely known or used.  Today's subject is

The Kineton Noseband

This is something you rarely see and many people have no idea what it is for.  So what is it?  A kineton is a very simple noseband.  An adjustable strap goes behind the ears.  At each end the strap connects to one side of a metal U.  The other side of the U connects to another leather strap which goes over the nose and connects the two metal Us.  The mouthpiece of the bit sits in the bottom of the U.

So what does it do/how does it work?  First, how does a bit generally work?  When you put pressure on the reins, it pulls the bit and puts pressure on the bars and tongue.  The more pressure on the reins, the more pressure on the horse's mouth.  Add a kineton, and what happens?  Some of the pressure on the horse's mouth is transferred to the kineton, so instead of pressure on the bars and tongue there is pressure on the horse's nose.

Here, I illustrated the above picture:
 The red arrow is rein pressure, the dark purple is the bit ring, the green is the U, the pink is the noseband, light purple is where the bit is being held.
Pull on red --> pull on dark purple --> pull on green --> pull on pink --> pressure on nose.  The end.

Okay, nose pressure, so what?  There are two reasons that's good:

1.  If the horse's mouth hurts or is very sensitive or for whatever reason the horse doesn't like much pressure on his mouth, the kineton helps protect the mouth by limiting how much pressure can be put on the mouth.  This doesn't mean it's okay to yank at the bit, but it does mean it's easier to maintain less contact with the mouth, which is important if the horse is afraid of the bit.  If the horse stumbles or something and you accidentally catch the horse in the mouth, there's some protection.

2.  "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."  If mouth pressure isn't yielding the response you want, even with different mouthpieces, then try something else, like nose pressure.  Some horses respond very well to it.  English horses don't generally use nose pressure, so it's something that can change things up a lot.

The kineton passes The Mare Test, which is pretty much the highest recommendation I can give.  The Mare is a stereotypical chestnut Thoroughbred mare.  Hot, sensitive, and opinionated.  She doesn't tolerate any attempts to control her.  If she accepts a piece of tack, then it's gentle and inoffensive.  We were able to go from a hand gallop to a super bouncy, uphill, controlled canter.  (Before this, I had heard of a "bouncy canter" and understood the idea, but I'd never really felt it.... to feel it on The Mare is just shy of a miracle!)  At first, she tried opening her mouth to avoid the bit, but when she realized that wasn't going to work, she settled right down and was great.  No tantrums, no attitude.

I don't use it often.  At this point, I pretty much only pull it out if I haven't ridden the old guy (in the pictures) in a while and I think I might need a little bit extra.  I've never used it on Princess and have no plans to at this point, because I don't think it would do him any good.

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