Thanks so much for your comments. It's good to know somebody recognizes and understands. Dusty spent two years in a true jaquima (cowboy = hack-a-more), then several months just carrying the custom made spade bit while riding on the jaquima, then about a year with reins on both jaquima and bit. When things were going well I rode on the bit. If I had to take him up short it was on the jaquima. Eventually I no longer needed the jaquima and only the slightest touch on a rein. It doesn't happen in 90 days when done right.
Yes Julie, For over 50 years I have used the traditional old California jaquima. The photo below is of my second "rescue" horse. He's been in the jaquima now about 6 months, is light years ahead of most horses, but still has two or three years to go before he will meet my standards for a finished bridle horse. The spade bit is a highly sophisticated, beautifully engineered peice of gear meant to be used on only a highly trained horse by a highly experienced rider.
Nothing at all wrong with training and riding in a halter. I ride mine around the paddock with nothing at all on their heads. The more sophisticated the equipment the higher the level of precision you can achieve with less obvious action on the part of the rider. Bridle bits are sort of like high performance equipment on automobiles. No, you don't need them to get from point "A" to point "B" but if you know how to properly use them the results can be pretty spectacular.
Both my horses are T-breds ... and royally bred at that. Dusty, my finished horse, is a Grandson of Slew of Gold (by Seattle Slew) on Mothers side and a Great Grandson of Native Dancer on his sires' side. Concho, in the jaquima, is a maternal Granson of Mr. Prospector (T-bred horse of the year 3 years in a row) and a Paternal Grandson of Damascus. However, both are geldings that sustained some career ending injury. To the racing industry they were little more than 12 or 14 hundred pounds of Alpo. As to Dustys' knees ... no ... they have never been a bother or caused any trouble. He was noticably "over at the knees" when I first got him. I put him on pretty heavy glucosemine, of course, and more miles of gentle walking than you would believe. He stands almost normal now. He still has the "runnun' bumps", of course, and they will never go away. Between his personality and his performance most people never even notice his knees.
Concho was in a bad wreck with another horse in a race here in Phoenix at Turf Paradise track. The next day he could hardly move he was so sore. The trainer said, "He's 7 years old. it'll take too long for him to heal and get back in shape. Get rid of him." I took him and after a full year of doing absolutely nothing except eating and sleeping he fully recovered. He's absolutely sound and doesn't even have a wind-puff. He took to working cattle like he'd done it all his life.
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