Monday, March 25, 2024

Horse Riding Is Like Peeling Back an Onion

According to the website SymbolismandMetaphor: "Onions are a symbol of positivity and healing". That's great. I like onions. I'll take that.

Photo Credit: pixabay

I was taking my morning walk with my very old dog and the thought came to me about improving my artwork is like peeling back an onion. You know... that ole saying about learning new aspects of something only to find more things to learn at a deeper level.  It's a learning process. 

I had just learned a few new things in art and was reflecting on it. So of course! I always think about how it impacts my lifelong horse life. I decided to google horse riding and peeling an onion and was surprised to find a couple of results! One article referred to the onion peeling in terms of not rushing rehabilitation after surgery. 

  Jim Wofford in Feb/2023 issue of Practical Horseman (title: Lost in Translation) talks about riding horses is like peeling back an onion. Though the article is mainly about using your seat bones for riding, I'm liking his description of learning to ride:

  "Learning to ride is like peeling an onion by hand. You can peel only one thin layer at a time, it will take you a long time to get to the central part .. and there will be a lot of tears in between. But the sensation your get when you peel off one more layer and understand for the first time something new about horses and riding is what keeps horsemen coming back for more. And when you get to the essential core, that's just one horse ... now you must start peeling the layers on a new horse, hoping to get to the centre of him (the horse)_ as well. That means more tears, yes, but more enlightenment as well'.

I don't necessarily agree about the tears (it does happen sometimes I guess) I was wanting to focus on the learning process. Being around a horse and learning to do our best in the horse-human relationship involves a steady commitment and action to better ourselves.

Putting My Spin on Learning & Growing When Riding Horses.


@KISS Reiners.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Intuition Reinforced From a Horse and Red Flags

 I like to do articles where I relate something from non-horse life and how we can apply it to our horse life. This time it's the other way around.

Intuition  (photo credit Pixabay)

How Horses Teach Us to Trust Our Intuition

  Those of us who've been around horses know that we develop our mastery of intuition in many ways thru the horses. According to HorseandRider magazine titled "Horses Use Their Intuition. Learn to Use Yours":

    Horses are clairsentient animals, meaning that they can perceive emotional energy through feeling. As intuitive beings, they feel the energy around them, perceiving when and how to react.

   Humans, like horses, have a strong intuition. When humans start to fall short on following intuition is when we run into limiting beliefs. Humans, unlike horses, also have limiting beliefs that block us from fully following our intuition.

The article is at this link if you want to read the full article. (Feb 10,2023 by Michaela Jaycox).

This leads me into my experience and why I thought of my skill with intuition.  The article also agrees that horses can be our teachers when it comes to intuition and that's what I'm talking about.

No Longer Trusting Some 'Authority' People in Society

The above title my sound like 'woo' but I've had some interesting experiences. I was taught to always trust people and believe that their telling the truth especially so called 'experts'. Well time moves on. We grow up and know that that is not always the case. So what's different?

I have found an increasing number of 'authority' figures not being honest. I was following a few people on youtube for advice about different subjects, one of them being nutrition, and after a year found out that they were BS'ing everyone.  I have a bad gut feeling about this person because the doctor was saying extreme protocol ideas that left me questioning what he said. Up with the 'red' flags. I didn't follow the advice and I'm glad I didn't. That doctor could be messing with people's lives.

I had another case, again on youtube, in the truther community where a lady influencer was starting to act arrogantly and bad mouthing people. Red flags flying again. I was shocked to be honest. Again, a short time later, I find out that she isn't telling the truth and is trying to spread disinformation. We really have to be careful out there.

Thanking my Horse

I was pondering on my discovery of a 'disinformation' agent and was pleased that I followed my gut instinct and waited until I could verify the source. I'm glad I did.  

I was also realizing that my horses over the years have helped me to develop this skill and I'm glad I did.

Putting my Spin on Intuition and How to Use It To Protect Ourselves.


@KISS Reiners

Monday, January 29, 2024

Time Flys When Your Messing Up Your Horse's Steering & Brakes

 Under construction

Intro - riding along as time flys and your horse now has crappy steering and/or no brakes.

How to Fix It?

New Bit or Ground Work or the Smart Way (german martingale)

Picture of Training Bit

Picture of Ground work Flex To a Stop

Picture of german martingale

Links to my other articles

Putting My Spin On Great Steering


@KISS Reiners

Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Man! I'd Wish I'd Known That Decades Ago!

"Man! I'd Wish I'd Known That Decades Ago!" That's a saying I've said to myself a lot this past year.  You know... when you've made a small change in a procedure or your routine and it ends up making a HUGH difference. Tweaking at its finest.

 It surprises you! You think Wow!  Wish I'd Done That Decades Ago. That sort of thing.

OK. I have to interrupt this article for a news flash! Have you seen the Facebook short where someone pours Elmer's Glue All into their vehicle's dirty cup holder + baking soda + a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol to make a pasty ball? And then they use it to clean their console and the surrounding area with this ball? Wow! I've got to try it. Ya never know!

Back to Small Things That Make A BIG Difference

Dust Buster for Quick Pickups

 Often times I find the area of the living room where my chair is gets dirty from my socks. I found I had to vacuum often. So I now keep a cordless dust buster close by and use if often so I don't spread the dog hair and loose hay bits in other places.

Dog Dust Bunnies Everywhere

 What a different it makes with 2 or more dogs in the house. It seemed like I couldn't keep up with all the dog hair. My SIL called them dog dust bunnies.

  Walmart had an introductory sale on these stick vacuums for under $20. I thought that would solve my problem! I bought 6 of them and put them throughout my house.  I also bought extension cords for them so that they overlap on territory.  Best thing I ever did!

Vacuum, Vacuum Everywhere

These small but mighty ideas didn't just stay in the house.

Too Hard to Carry

   Have you noticed as you get older that the grain bags get heavier and heavier. Same thing with the saddle. :)

The Grain Wagon

  I saw this plastic kids wagon and thought it'd be handy for carrying things outside. It ended up doing grain duty. Very easy now to move these heavy grain bags around.

 These were just a few ideas on how a few small changes can make a big difference.  I hope this got you thinking about your own place.

Putting My Spin on Small Things that Make a Big Difference!
@KISS Reiners

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

20 Years Strong

 This was a big year for me. I knew the date was October 19th, 2023. I spent a big part of the day hanging out with my 21 year old mare Jackie. That day was our 20th year anniversary.

 It was the last year Nelson Bilyea had his auction in Woodstock, On. I wasn't looking for a horse that day - just hanging out. Famous last words I know! LOL  But when I heard her sire Whizard Jac being announced over the PA, I was curious. And then when I heard her dam, whom I knew fairly well, I had to go and check her out. As you know, I ended up bringing her home.

 We've done many, many things over the 20 years, in and out of the show ring. I consider her one of my best friends. She's family to me.

Jackie & I  2007 ORHA LNP Derby Champion

 Some of the Ole Sayings Are True

   I remember a saying that goes something like "Cheap is what cheap does."  I don't think they were talking about toilet paper. LOL 

My Ole JD Tractor and Manure Cart

 Twenty years ago when I had moved to a new farm south of Woodstock, On I needed a riding lawn mower.  I had done my research and the John Deere model was the best for that year.  My Dad was shocked because he always drove truck for Massey Ferguson and would ridicule John Deere any chance he could get. "You're not going to go green are you?"

When I had brought the JD riding lawn mower home, WELL! my Dad had to come and try it out. Now 20 years later, my ole JD is still going strong and still doing many jobs. I honestly wouldn't know what I'd do without it.

  In the picture you can see that I bought a dump cart 20 years ago as well and it's still going strong.  It's tough to buy the higher cost initially but it sure doesn't owe my anything now. I'm glad I have both of them.

 New Shiny Trailer

 Twenty years ago in the spring, my old rusty steel trailer didn't do so well over the winter and not being a handy man myself, I knew I had to get another horse trailer.

 So again doing research, I had found a new-ish aluminum trailer and bought it. I figured, as most people know, that aluminum will last a long time.

22 Year Old Horse Trailer

  I'm sure you can see the pattern by now. Sure enough, this trailer is still going strong. It's looking a little used but it's still in great shape. I'm so glad that I decided to spend the extra for the aluminum.

SO the point here is that I had some big 20 year anniversaries to celebrate this year. In a time where WWIII is looming, I'm glad to be able to celebrate some mechanical friends.

And of course, the best for last.... my dear Jackie.  Though she looks old now with her slightly swayed back, she's still going strong and I consider myself so lucky to this day.

May you have many strong friends that you can feel proud of and hold close to your heart.

Putting My Spin on Strong Solid Friends


@KISS Reiners

Friday, September 1, 2023

Tips to Improve Your Learning


In Whatever Field of Study

I've seen people who have spent a fortune and those who have not and the process is still the same. It's like the ole saying: "you get out of it what you put into it".

Here are some suggestions to improve your learning in whatever aspect of life it suits. 
Photo Source Pixabay

1. Get good equipment ie. a good experienced horse.  I remember other riders talking about getting so well trained of a horse that 'any monkey could ride it.'.  Then you are pretty much guaranteed to win.  I used to think so too. But I've experienced it differently.

Yes, you do get a lot of wins riding that well trained horse. Yes, a good horse makes a good rider. But you also have to be willing to put in the time and practice to learn how to get the best out of that horse. 

My main goal for competing was always to see how well I was progressing from the last show. 

2. Get the best Mentor (ie. Trainer) you can find.  
When I was first learning how to rein (for the 2nd time in the '90s) and eventually train my own, I found the best coach in Ontario at that time. So I spent almost every weekend at the coach's place during the spring to fall time frame. I always called it 'Reiner Immersion'.

 I have some of my best memories from that time.  I remember a funny story about me that I want to share. A bunch of us were training and practising in the arena as usual and I had just completed my turn. I stood atop my horse resting in the corner. The next thing I knew, I had woken up on a couch! Apparently, I have fallen asleep on my horse and had fallen off while still asleep! Ah, those were the days!

3. It takes Time to Learn the Necessary Skills.
Photo Source: Pixabay

  One of the best pieces of advice I got from a few people was to learn the whole process or program first from someone before incorporating other people's processes into your own. It took time. It was great advice. Once, I learned a complete program from my coach, I then knew 'the whole picture' so to speak. I could then learn how to improve and customize the program or process to suit me.

One big example for me, is that I'm not very tall. I have short legs. Most teenagers are taller than me. So I had to learn to use spurs well in order to really communicate to my horse.

4. Learn from Other Professional Sources.  
  When I was developing my reining skills, I would attend as many clinics as I could. I also bought as many VHS tapes as I could. They were from greats like Shawn Flarida, Bob Avila, Tim McQuay etc. 

This tip wouldn't be complete without mentioning the fact that today when I'm researching and learning from professionals or experienced people, I binge watch a ton of youtube channels.  I consider youtube to be like a university.

5. Developing Skills Through Experience.
 Showing is both an art and a science. I remember those first shows. Thanks to the Ontario Reining Horse Association, I was able to show 'in my own back yard'. They only had the 1 beginner class in those days - not like today with so many choices for new people. It was just the ticket! I was able to get the show experience and confidence I needed before trying other shows in the states.

6. Assist the Experts(ie. Judges). One of the opportunities I have is to volunteer for my reining club.  Our judges require an assistant or 'scribe' as we call them to record the scores as the judge is scoring each maneuver for the contestant's run. I started to scribe over 20 years ago to not only help the club but also to keep on top of the changes in the rules. It also allowed me to see first hand who the judges were scoring our runs so that I would know best as well. Perhaps that is possible for your too.

7. Upward and Onward.  For me, the last tip is one of moving up. As our skills progress, we need to better our tools if we want to progress even  more. I just joined a prestigious art business school that I hope will be beneficial in the future.

Good luck in your advancement of learning.  

Putting my spin on improve your learning.
@KISS Reiners

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone

 Why do we do this to ourselves?

Photo Credit Pixabay

Remember that first day of high school or college?  Nervous. Excited. Anxious. Hopeful that you'll fit in. 

Phew! Got over that one.

Here we go again. Remember that first day on the job. That new job that you spent tons of time and worry that you nailed the interview and celebrated when you got the job offer.  I remember that. Nervous. Excited. Anxious. Hopeful that this will be a long successful career.

Time goes on and you're good with that one.

But that's not enough. We do it again. Over and over (for most of us anyway).

Remember that first day at the first horse show you've ever been to. Newness. Feeling like a 'grade 9ner' all over again. Nervous. Excited. etc. You get the picture. But can you feel that feeling in your stomach as you recall your experiences?

That's the feeling of steeping out of your comfort zone for what we hope will be a successful result.  And experience has shown that sometimes it works our well and sometimes it doesn't. But that's life.

I just started a big adventure. I'll talk about it later if it works out. :) But right now I'm nervous. Excited. Anxious and yes a bit queasy in the stomach.

I've won many horse showing awards in my day and yet I still get that feeling when I start a new big - out of my comfort zone - projects or adventures. Sure keeps us going!

Hope you have many successful adventures in and our of the show pen!

Putting my spin on Out of Our Comfort Zone


@KISS Reiners

Wednesday, July 5, 2023


in-ge-nu-i-ty:  def'n

  noun   the quality of being clever, original, and inventive.

              Ex. "considerable ingenuity can be used to solve problems like training horses and moving mats".

Ingenuity Using a Tractor

Ingenuity Allowed Me to Get The Job Done:

  I was selling some heavy stall mats on facebook marketplace and I wanted to take them outside and power wash them.  The problem was that I couldn't get them outside on my own. At 62, I tried to drag them outside but it wasn't going to be pretty. I've avoided doing this for years as they were just too heavy to move.

 So I figured out that if I wrapped my tow strap around the mat and twist the ends, I could pull the mat outside with my lawn tractor. Gosh, I've used that tractor for so many things like this.  My friend Eleanor uses clamps to attach to the mat and pull it around.

Ingenuity with Horses:

  Ingenuity can be used in the horse world for so many things like training.


Ingenious bit for training.

Once I had removed the mats from the barn floor, I noticed my Myler 3-ring combo bit that I've used for training, trail riding, colt starting, and ease.  Sometimes I just want to put a good bit in my horse's mouth and focus on other things.

Ingenuity will give you a competitive edge:

Have you got a bit that you know is ingenious and will cut your learning time substantially? What other things can you do will help? Why not?

I did a quick search on the internet and there are tons of articles where trainers have used ingenious ways to train horses. It's everywhere.

The great thing about learning and practicing this skill outside of the horse ring will also help inside the horse ring. Enjoy!

It sure has helped me! So I hope you're encouraged to do the same.

Have a great summer!

Putting my spin on in-ge-nu-i-ty.


@KISS Reiners

Friday, June 2, 2023

Decluttering Bits - The Rider's Side

 Let's talk  about decluttering bits. If you're like most riders, you have a proverbial bucket of unused bits.  I spent a month decluttering my house, garage, barn, horse trailer and now bits. I kid you not! I was binge watching these 3 ladies with their decluttering youtube channels and it brought my decluttering 'game' to a whole new level! 

Clutterbug from Toronto

Here is what my wall of bits looks like after a declutter.

Note the # of empty pegs.

In a previous article: "Bits Do Help If You Let Them" (Foundation Reining Training Centre: Bits Do Help If You Let Them ( I talk about some bit considerations for riders. When decluttering, the experts talk about just keeping your favorites.

Myler Lynn McKenzie 3-Ring Combo
With Tie-Down

This is a Myler 3-Ring Combo bit (highly recommended) in the Lynn McKenzie series - popular for barrel racers.  I have this bit for sale on Facebook Marketplace. A great place to sell decluttered items (if you've not heard of it yet :).

From my Bits Help You article:

"A lot of riders just use whatever bit their fellow riders of their sport use. It's easier that way. I would agree that it's a good place to start. I know I did. I got the reining bit for showing that reiners used back in the 80's and still use today.

 Nothing wrong with that, if it works. That's the key... if it works. But what if it doesn't - what then?  You can ask the local tack shop owner or someone else but the problem is that misinformation is taught to everyone including trainers. Usually without their knowledge. Whether its pride or ignorance that people don't want to know technically about bits, I can't say. I'm not going there but I have studied that too - to know the source of why riders are hesitant to 'go down the bit route'."

Once you're figured out your best bits to keep and you've done your decluttering - 'kicked the (bits) bucket!' and got rid of the ones you don't want, it's so easy now  to pick up that bit you want to use!

Putting my Spin on Decluttering and More on Bits!


@KISS Reiners

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Do You Have Horseman Syndrome? It's Not What You Think

Have you heard of 'Horseman Syndrome'? It's actually a thing. My first thought was are they talking about a cowboy being bow-legged? LOL

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Scientific American released an article in Mar/23 talking about a handful of skeletons found in Bulgaria that have this characteristic 'tell' of horseback riders. I didn't know that was a 'thing' either. Apparently, we've been riding horses for over 5,000 years. Cool.

Here is a link to the article:,000-years-ago-new-evidence-suggests/.

Horseman Syndrome as early as 3,500B.C.E. in Western Russia

Note the position of the legs to denote a horse rider.

   Many of the skeleton remains belong to the Yamnaya people, a nomadic tribe from the Ukrainian steppe, who have been long associated with horses by archaeologists. These horsemen swept across much of Eurasia from modern-day western Russia.  These same people also influenced the Indo-European languages spoken today. Ex. English, Celtic, Germanic, Spanish, Hindi, Russian and Persian.

So in 2015, some DNA was sequenced of these human bones to around 3,500 BCE which archaeologists set the date for horse domestication.

Oh, My Aching Bones

   "Bones are living tissue in living creatures" where you can read life histories from bones. I knew that bone doctors like Temperance "Bones" Brennan (from the TV series Bones) could read the bones for all kinds of forensic evidence.

     So Horseman Syndrome is detected by a pattern of marks on the skeleton that show an adaption to riding a horse - biomechanical stress caused by repeated movements. According to the article: "Horseman syndrome involves changes to the thigh bones, pelvis and lower spine." "You use muscle groups in a way you usually don't do in everyday locomotion". Don't we know it! Back to the bow-legged cowboy again. Lol

    The article doesn't suggest any cure or care for the still live horse riders but it's interesting to know what our skeletons will show.

    Putting My Spin on a Sore Back and Legs from Repetitive Riding


 @KISS Reiners

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Let's Start At The Beginning (of The 2023 Year) With Foundation Training


Body Control, Foundation Training, Safety Training

Putting basic training on a horse has been around forever. A smart somebody was thinking!  (Though not all horses receive it. :() The ability as a rider to be able to move any of the horse's body parts around through cues. It's not only important for the horse but it's very important for the rider including safety. It's communication. It's your car's emergency brake, first aid kits, engine tune up, brand new tires, etc.. You have a sense of calm in the pit of your stomach knowing you've got everything covered should a blow out happen.  Our horses are a joy - a stress relief. Who wants to screw that up but not having a well trained horse? Oh gosh, the things I've seen...

Its what my horse training business was all about. I used to have students come for lessons on safety. To be able to ride their horse (primarily on the trail) knowing that they had some skills they could use in case things went awry. Not only that, its also such a JOY to ride a horse that you assuredly know you could communicate to and take control in case a bear or scary ATV showed up.

According to Bob Avila, 2 time World's Greatest Horseman Champion, multiple Hall of Fame inductee (and too many other wonderful accolades to mention) but certainly one of my mentors:  "No matter what your training goal, inside or outside the show ring, body control isn't a big thing. It's everything. When you can isolate and control all the individual parts of your horse's body, you have a horse that's really, really broke." --Bob Avila ."

Being in the show pen doesn't need the rider to have basic foundation skills on their horse for safety. (I hope not. The horse should be well trained by then. That's another story). But they do need the foundation training in conjunction with those advanced training skills to expertly perform whatever it is they're demonstrating in the show pen.

A Rose by any Other Name Would Smell Just as Sweet

Another common names: 
1. Putting A 'handle' on a horse
 2.  'the basics'  
 3.  basic horse training 
  4. foundation training
  5. body control,
  6. And I'm going to say basic safety training.

My Definition of Body Control 
Foundation training is the term used to describe the type of basic training that is put on a horse after the horse has been started under saddle and before the horse is then finished in a specialty.

Body control is a more elaborate and detailed version of this foundation training where the horse is taught to move all their body parts via cues. The training goes into a lot more detail, with a lot more exercises to get a horse really trained in the basics.

Western performance horses development is a term that maybe used for this type of body control foundation training. And of course, it exists in the other horse disciplines as well though I can't speak on their behalf as I have no knowledge in that area.

A Quick Check:
Is the pit of your stomach telling you that things are good, that you have an emergency plan OR does the pit of your stomach feel like it's tied in knots, a little 'oogy' then I'd be checking your basic training or looking into that car engine light if I were you. 

Gosh, I really miss putting that foundation body control training on horses. You can see from the photo, that the last time I did that was 2 years ago when I was 60. And I'm glad now that in my 60's, I'm still riding my good ole mare Jackie, who had the foundation training in 2003 - 20 years ago!

I'll be doing more articles on this as the year progresses. The Year of the Rabbit. The Year of the Basic Horse Skills.
My 15th year writing for TheRider Magazine. Thanks Barry Finn.

Questions and comments are always welcome.
Putting my spin on Body Control Foundation training or western performance horse development. 
Reinersue - Celebrating 15 years writing for magazine.  Thanks Barry!
©Copyright KISS Reiners 2023

Thursday, December 1, 2022

Christmas Time in The Country 2022

 Christmas in The Country

It will be a new year soon. By habit, we set new goals. Rethink things over, perhaps determined to make some positive changes in our life which is good. Horse people do it too. But should we? I find myself thinking more about holding tight and getting through this crazy time in the world with this war.  What about you? I will leave that one up to you.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Motivational Goal Setting Just Got a Whole Lot Easier

 When setting a goal, a way that can backfire is to set really large goals and a tight deadline. We've all heard this before. We don't realize the time it takes to train that new horse or get a new skill established before that non-moveable deadline sets in - like a horse show or a scheduled trail ride with freinds. The horse show committee isn't going to move the date for you so, What to do - What to do?

 There's new research to explain this and what to do about it.  I think this is very fitting in the horse world. We're always settings goals and wanting to achieve them.


  You're ready for change, you've set a goal, and you get this euphoric feeling of 'Let's Do This! Yeah! Let's go". 

  You're excited and motivated. It feels so good to start a new goal. You decide to pile on the goal and make it bigger. The goal expands. We want to get lots done.

According to Dr. Caroline Leaf, ( a cognitive neuroscientist, that rush of feelings is due to a rush of endorphins or feel-good hormones. Not a bad thing.

Dr. Caroline Leaf YouTube:

What's Next: Naturally, the Hormone High Doesn't Last

 This is where careful planning and understanding of the human body comes in. We will not be able to sustain the feel-good feeling indefinitely (at least not by natural means). It's inevitable. So how do we keep going when the hormone motivation fizzles out - return the tack? lol

First, we have to understand that it's not our plan or goal that has gone wrong, or that something is wrong with us. It's simply the way our body works.  We don't want to ever get into the destructive habit of self-doubt, or self- criticism, or worse yet, blame the horse.

 Adjust the Plan:

 One easy and quick thing to do is to change or adjust the plan and goal. Perhaps by analyzing, you've found out that the plan got too grandiose or noticeably too large to complete in the time. Why not try less classes or go into a beginner class instead.  Try a 1-day trail ride instead of a camp over. Things like that.

 The big take-away I'm trying to say here is to be ready to make some simple yet effective changes to your plan and/or goal when your motivation naturally fizzles out and have a good realistic plan going forward. It will carry you to your goal! Good luck.

That's one of the beauties of the horse world, to learn how to set and meet non-movable dates. A great skill to have!

Putting My Spin On Goal Setting


@KISS reiners.

Friday, September 9, 2022

You Just Can't Rush Things

 I took on a project this summer to restore all my hardwood floors in my house. It's an exercise in patience and waiting long periods of time. The photo shows how I've had to push some of my furniture onto one side so that I can work on 1/2 the floor at a time.  At the time of this photo, I'm waiting for the floor gloss to cure for 24hrs before I can move my furniture back. 

What to do? What to do? I think I'll go riding in my back bush. The leaves are just starting to turn this fall and I have all those autumn landscape scenes.  Times are a changin'.

Timing Your Horse Cues

I was watching some exhibitors at a reining show and over the course of the weekend I saw many things, but one thing I always see are a few exhibitors or horses start their stopping maneuver too soon. They rush their rundown - charge off like a bullet too quickly and miss their marker. They start their stop (:?) too quickly.

 This sounds like it should be an easy thing to do - to know when to cue your horse for the rundown. Famous last words isn't it!  'If you been there - you know.' The timing seems to work in practise but when you're actually in the show pen, it's easy to get anxious to start to increase speed on the straight away. I haven't shown in years but I still remember how important it is to time the cue to have your horse increase their speed going to the sliding stop.

As many of the famous trainers like Bob Avila say: "Timing is Everything."

About Timing
Missing a marker is a 2 point penalty and in reining that usually makes a difference between being 'in the money' or not. "Gotta hate when that happens." It's always about timing and feel isn't it?

When I was watching this, I was reminded of a saying I used to tell my students. I would mention it when students got too quick with their hands. This would often rattle the horse causing a failure on what the horse/rider combo were doing. And the rider would get frustrated. I developed a saying to explain on how to time their cues better.

"A Little Sooner, Not Quicker"

 If a rider were to plan their cues a little earlier and start cueing a little earlier then what they had previously been doing then the results were what they were looking for. There's also the problem of the horse deciding to take it upon themselves to increase the speed when they think it's the right time. That involves having to 'check' your horse with the reins if need be.

I believe learning how to time cues in the show pen or while riding in general helps with other areas of our life and visa versa.
Have a great fall everyone!

Putting My Spin on Timing.
@KISS Reiner

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Effective Bits Example #2: My Name is Tom Thumb


This is one of my favorites. Back by popular demand... Meet 'ole Tom Thumb. I like to pick on this Tom! :)  When I was a kid back in the '60's in Essex County Ontario, almost every rider was using this bit. I remember my Dad having this bit.  Before I get started on why this is NOT an effective bit, I want to point out to you an article I did on my website on the history of bits to refresh your memory on why we use bits. History of Bits. (

Bottom line is: It's about communication.  I've been fascinated about bits for decades. If you want my take on busting myths and disinfo on bits, I would highly recommend you search for the numerous articles I've written on my website for more information. 

Will The Real Tom Thumb Please Stand Up

A lot of people still use this type of bit - at least in my area here. It's generally called a transition bit - transitioning a horse from a snaffle bit to their first curb (or leverage) bit. I would call it a 'stuck at this level' bit. Is it a 'training snaffle' - even though it's not a snaffle at all!? It's technically in the category of a 'combo' type of bit. I will do a separate series on combo bits soon. I really like combo bits.

I remember doing a bit evaluation many years ago for a local lady rider and her father showed me a tom thumb training snaffle - similar to the one shown at the end of this article (only not with the copper roller in the middle). I told him jokingly how I use those types of bits for wind chimes and/or toilet paper holder decorations! :) I kid you not! He had a really shocked look on his face but it got him thinking!

a Little Bit Better

The original Tom Thumb bit is not effective because of the jointed mouthpiece (any bit with a jointed mouthpiece) will have the now famous 'nut cracker' effect. I really hate this. It causes pain. This bit was made a little bit better with the addition of a copper barrel in the mouthpiece to prevent the bit from having the nutcracker effect and with the shanks being slightly curved back. 

So if you're going to stay loyal to Tom, I would suggest getting the version that has the copper roller in the mouthpiece, the curbed back shanks, the 1/2 rings on the shank (to make it a combo bit). And of course the curb chain (not shown).

Good luck in your relationship with Tom.

Putting My Spin On Curbs Bits Who Want to Be Snaffle Bits


@KISS Reiners

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Is Tracing a Horse Allowed?

 There is a very heated, ancient debate in the art world about whether tracing an image onto your art surface is ok. It's a testy subject. Crazy, if you ask me.

 Countless centuries have been spent arguing over this. The traditionalists say it's taboo to trace - literally. Sacrilege.  That you must go through the painstaking process of hand drawing the image. Like an initiation or earning your dues, so to speak. Some people say it's cheating. Yet, the masters like Michael Angelo and his kind did forms of tracing. That's not widely known for some reason.

Still, others, mostly modern artists have found a very beneficial reason for tracing and highly encourage it! Such a huge difference of opinion like we see today about vaccines. I'd like to explain. Do I trace? Sure for extreme accuracy and I like hyper-realism in my art work. And over the years from tracing, I now trace the proportions for accuracy and free hand the images I'm familiar with. I'm going to describe how this applies to horses in a minute.

Why Trace?

  Tracing your image onto an art surface helps you build muscle memory when you do that. So I highly recommend that you practise tracing and encourage your kids to do so if you want to learn how to draw - especially horses :). More importantly, it gives you accurate muscle memory. If you don't have assistance when you're learning to draw free hand, you could run into the problem of developing muscle memory that's inaccurate. Yet, it really feels accurate because it feels so familiar. That's why tracing helps to learn how to draw correctly. It's speeds up the learning process and you can start to freehand images that you're very familiar with in the future.

How Does This Apply to Horses?

 It does apply to horses.  Taking learning to ride for example. If you choose to go the DIY method of learning to ride where you are at home alone using the method of learning by trail and error, without having someone watch you to make sure you're learning how to ride accurately, you could end up learning the wrong thing.

Back in the day, I saw students swear they knew how to ride correctly but they didn't. They hadn't had any formal lessons and they inadvertently developed bad habits or wrong ways to ride. They were so convinced that they were riding properly, that some didn't come back after a few lessons. Blessings to them anyway. We are all here on different paths of learning.

So I highly recommend that a rider learn by a method where someone can give them feedback. What would be equivalent to tracing? I guess the closest thing would be videoing yourself learning to ride and have someone else view the video and give feedback.  

The main take-away here that I'm trying to convey is to make sure that by whatever method you use for anything, horse related in this case, is have a method to get feedback so that you develop accurate muscle memory and not learn the wrong thing.

Putting my spin on Tracing for accuracy.


@KISS Reiners

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Effective Bits Example#1: A Useless Curb Chain

 I was thinking about a good article topic for June, when horse shows are well under way, that I thought it would be good information to remind people. So I had the thought to go on Pixabay ( a free reference photo site that I use all the time for my art, to see if I could get an interesting photo of a curb bit and this is what I came up with. 

Can You Spot The Problem?

It's a good example. I'll share my thoughts on why this bit setup is useless - yes useless. The great thing about this photo is that it's anonymous. I just picked it from the website so I'm not offending any one as I don't know them. I wouldn't do that anyway. It's about the bit setup - not the person. We all learn. If you don't know, you don't know.

We all want to know about the bit we're using especially when it's not working. It's one of the most important questions to ask yourself as a rider and especially a trainer. We want to use one that will communicate the best to our horse and yet, not turn the horse off to using one. Or worse, turn our horse into a bad behaviour horse. eek!

Before I describe the bit to you, I want to make a point about all bits....

The bottom line is: If the bit is effective, then it's the right bit to use.

That's it. Just remember that and you will do fine! 

Not Effective Curb Chain

In the case with the above example, this bit is not effective.  The curb chain is so loose that it cannot work as the fulcrum in a curb bit. Curb bits work on the principle of a fulcrum for leverage. I encourage you to research it for yourself especially if you're having problems.

Doesn't matter how many parts, whether it's an english pelhum or a Tom Thumb, is the mouthpiece broken, jointed, solid, brass, copper, bla, bla, bla.  Is it effective? Is it effective for you and your horse.

In this case, the horse will just ignore this bit and quickly too. Depending on the mouthpiece, the horse will feel discomfort in at least the corners of his/her mouth. The rider will inadvertently have to pull harder and harder over time to get the response they want and that's not something we as riders want to learn. We want to have quiet hands. That's a topic for another day. Please see my website for information on quiet hands. There is a great search function if you need it.

Formula for the Right Bit

Part of the formula of the right bit is to have the curb chain situated to act properly as the fulcrum of the curb bit. That's why curb bit's are often mentioned with a ratio to describe the relationship of the rider's pressure to the pressure felt in the horse's mouth. If it's a 2:1 ratio, then if the rider exerts 10lbs of pressure through the reins to the bit and the curb chain is working properly, the horse will feel 20lbs pressure through the mouthpiece. The point is for the rider to have/maintain soft hands.

In the above example, that would not work. It would be a 1:1 radio and work like a snaffle bit (which is a 'direct pull' bit and not a leverage bit. Notice I don't mention anything about the mouthpiece. It's not about the mouthpiece.) Sadly, the horse would learn to pull against this bit, get heavy handed in other words and would not have any 'brakes'.

What to do? What to do?

Ok. This is an easy fix. Simply tighten up that curb chain so that it sits comfortably in the chin groove of the horse. The tighter fit to that chin groove, the quicker the horse will feel the pressure of the bit against several parts of their mouth including the tongue. And that is a good thing IF the rider's hands are soft. Talk about a horse whisperer! :)

I hope you enjoyed this. I did. Reminds me of my passion for an understanding of bits and their function. I think I will do more of these. If someone wants a bit evaluation, please contact me.

Putting my spin on effective bits. 
Reinersue - Myler Bit Technical Certified
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