Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Lucky's Trekking Tips - Muzzle Blasts November 2023

Heads It Is! 

By Gerry "Lucky" Messmer

Last time we got together around the fire we talked a little (about) horse philosophy. It is hard in a one-page article to get into depth, so I try to hit pertinent things. Remember, you can always contact me with questions at

Today we start at the front of Bubbles. Like any other genre of riding, we use a bridle and halter. One difference between trekking and pleasure riding is control. When pleasure riding typically it is a few hours, tacking and untacking in a controlled environment, most likely a barn or stall. But when horse trekking you will lose that control and will be doing all the work out in the open. That leads me to answering the question I get most often by modern riders. Why is the halter (attached) underneath the bridle?

I get asked because modern riders will almost always remove the halter to put on the bridle. When horse trekking you are out in the wilderness and need to control your horse for those unforeseen circumstances that may spook them. Without a halter and lead rope, if your critter spooks, they are GONE! Additionally, it makes it easy to pull (off) the bridle and hold your horse while they graze on a break.

If you fall off, you need to be able to grab the lead rope that is tucked into your belt as many riders do. I daisy chain mine and let it hang. I have only ever had to intentionally bail off Bubbles once due to what I believe was black bear scent spooking her and my wife’s horse. When I got off, she did not move, but waited for me. That is due to her training, a lot of horses will run off.

The halter pictured I made myself. It isn’t pretty, but it is based on period drawings and fit to her head. The cute braid on the front makes it smoother across her nose but is a real pain to do! Over that is the halter, handmade by my good friend “Black Powder” Jim Branson. He gifted Bubbles to me. Jim is a superb tack maker and people often mistake his hand sewing for machine sewing. He is very meticulous about stitch spacing and quality as a lifelong horseman and tack maker.

The pictures show you Bubbles posing nicely to display the bridle over the halter and how I tie off my lead rope. On long treks and in sketchy areas I too, will tuck the lead rope into my belt; you can never be too sure. The individual pictures will give you an idea of design.

As for what bit to use, people will argue that you must use a period bit. However, I say this, your horse doesn’t know what year it is and it is not reenacting, but working, so you really need to use the bit that your critter is used to, trained on and gives you control. Never sacrifice safety and comfort of the animal over something as trivial as a bit.

I sure hope this helps you out and perhaps our next chat will be around a real fire - well after the snow is gone!

Reprinted with permission from the author.