Saddling up the big guy

One of the most asked questions out there, is how we saddle up Lillen and with what. There is no secret that our equipment looks a bit odd, so I thought I’d introduce you to the how’s and why’s.

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One of the biggest concern Internet has for Lillen and saddles, is that they are way too far back. Now, I’ve explained this several times, but I’ll gladly do it again: You cannot look at the placement of the girth when you look at where his saddle has to sit.

Seeing as he is a gigantic horse with anatomically fitting gigantic shoulder blades, the saddle needs to be further back then we’re used to. On a normal horse, the rule of thumb says you should be able to fit three fingers in-between the saddle and the end of the shoulder-blade. Seeing as Lillen is a gigantic horse, you need equal gigantic fingers for that rule (of thumb) to be accurate. For us normal people with normal fingers, the space required is probably a whole hand or more. That means his saddle will be further back for him to move freely.

This naturally leads to his girth hanging further back than the “normal”. A draft is not built to carry a saddle, so you will see this on a lot of drafts – but the girth simply can’t be right behind the front legs, because that would require you to pull the girth straps on the saddle further forward and “force” it in place, which again will lead to the back of the saddle being pushed down on his back, and lead to pain.

Another rule (not of thumb this time) is that the saddle should never rest behind the last rib, because his loin cannot carry weight. And all that is true, but if Lillen’s saddle slips 30cm backwards because we didn’t tighten the girth enough, we would still sit on his ribcage because his back is so long. Thus not damaging his back, nor putting weight on his kidneys. It’ll just look a little weird. Also keep in mind that Lillen carries no more than about 5% of his weight when we ride him, so even though saddle fitting has to be taken serious, a small mistake won’t destroy him.

Now, looking at the saddles we’ve used for Lillen, they often puzzle people a little because they look very different.

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This is the saddle many wonder about. This saddle is a treeless one; it doesn’t have a brand on it and we bought it secondhand, but we assume it’s from Hรถรถks. Probably an older version of this one. It’s pretty ugly and has surely seen better days, but it works pretty much like a bareback pad. Underneath we usually have a Grandeur pad for better weight distribution, or a reindeer pelt (for the same reason).

The fact that it is treeless also gives ut a little ease on where we can put it. No tree means rubbish weight distribution (which we try to compensate for by adding proper pads), so the saddle wont push down on his back on places where we don’t sit. Now, I apologize for my rubbish english (it’s my second language, I know) and ability to explain, but hear me out:

A normal saddle with a tree (dressage, show jumping, western saddles etc.) will take your weight and even it out on the whole surface of the saddle. Meaning that if the saddle is half a meter long, it will evenly distribute your weight on that half a meter of saddle. A treeless saddle doesn’t do this, and although we attempt to alter it into doing so nevertheless, our weight will never fully reach the end of the saddle. So naturally, if the saddle slips and ends up a bit further back than we planned it to, we will most likely not put weight on his kidneys.

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I even edited in this scapula for you to see what I mean – if the saddle is placed any further forward it will stay on top of his shoulder. Now, if you think that limiting shoulder movement is a totally fair thing to do, sure, slam the saddle on and whip your horse forward! Or maybe accept that this also is an issue when it comes to draft saddle fitting. The girth will be further back, but his shoulder will be free to move.

Also his last rib ends roughly by the calf of the rider, so even though they curve a little, the saddle is not further back than the last rib, ensuring the kidneys are not damaged.

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This is my saddle, and this too is fairly treeless. It’s the Startrekk Espaniola by Deuber und Partner, and have an adjustable gullet (only 1 gullet, but you can adjust it with a screwdriver) and adjustable panels underneath. This saddle sits comfortably on both Lillen and Brego (don’t know if that says more about Brego or Lillen to be honest).

The saddleย features a leather “tree” which makes it very stable. It looks and feels like a normal saddle, so it’s also used as a normal saddle. Often seen with just a saddle pad underneath, or a reindeer peltย for better weight distribution.

You can see it here too – if we put the saddle further forward, it will crash into his wither and shoulder. The girth still puts pressure on the breastbone (remember that his ribcage is huge) and doesn’t cause him pain. We also have a very loose girth when we ride, so he have no issues with this setup.

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Now, I don’t actually own this one pad anymore, but from time-to-time I post pictures of it, so I thought I’d let you know. This is the Christ Horsedream Iberica Plus, a bareback pad made of sheep skin. It has no tree nor gullet and is soft and squishy all around. I sold this because I didn’t use it a whole lot, but now I regret that so I’m looking for a new one.

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Also we ride a lot like this. Bareback! Simply because there are no good draft tree-saddles that we can actually afford. That is also the reason why saddles are treeless, it is way more difficult to find and fit a “proper” saddle and saddles like we own tend to be more comfortable for him.

If you see a picture/video of the saddle any further back than pictures in this blog post, know that it is because it has slipped and that we most likely have adjusted it seconds after the pic/vid was taken.

And as far as actually putting the saddle up there, we just lift it up like we would on any other horse. If we don’t feel like stretching up on our tippytoes for that, we get a stool. Nothing special to see there ๐Ÿ˜›

Emma

 

My man Loretto

Loretto was the first horse I bought for my own money. He was old and thin and a little awkward, but I spent all my money on him and before I knew it, he was mine. We were able to stay together for close to four years. He developed PPID (“Cushings” syndrome), and we managed to keep him healthy and fairly sound for a while. Sadly his eyesight became so poor in the end that we chose to let him go.

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I am not a person who is afraid of death. It is just as natural as the birth of something new, except you trade happiness and excitement for sorrow and grief. Being able to allow Loretto to pass on when he no longer could find joy in his everyday life was an honor. Being able to allow him to pass on before it was “too late”, was also an honor. He left us in November 2015, which seems like ‘yesterday’ to me.

It is always bittersweet to say goodbye, yet I know I’d much rather let them go a week “too early”, than realize I’ve waited for too long.

I was able to plan ahead for some time, and booked a session with Anette Augestad (hestefotograf.com). She is on the top 3 list of my favourite equine photographers and I was honored she could make room for us before his passing. It was late November, and if anyone was wondering; yes, the water was very cold. Loretto being as blind as he was, trusted me completely, and did not ask twice about standing beside me in the water. My dress flew in between his legs, I had my barefoot feet right next to his studded hooves, underneath several feet of freezing dark water, and I felt as safe as ever.

Thank you Anette.

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It might just be me, because I knew him so well, but in this picture you can see very clearly how blind he was. That head tilt and those ears gives it away to me.

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I don’t have red hair anymore and I kinda miss it, yet I don’t at all because blond goes so well with everything else! I barely used any red/orange/wine red/dark red/brown clothing because it didn’t match at all. Now I can use anything and still look tidy. Also my fringe is easier to keep; it doesn’t show as well when it decides to curl up and sideways, and that’s actually a bit nice.

Emma

I am a person

Repeat after me: “I am a person! I am a living individual with my own interests, my own thoughts and my own will!” Now, I’ll have you warned, this blog post is a rant. Nothing more, nothing less. And what may I rant about today, you ask? The fact that people forget that I am a person!

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Now, I am very aware that most of those I’ll be ranting at, might not have a very good life. They might not be very happy with themselves, they may be in a difficult situation. They might even just be bad at putting words on things, and end up sounding like complete shitheads. That’s fine.

But I am wholeheartedly surprised (and disgusted) by how much some people care about the amount of followers they have. And wholeheartedly surprised (and equally disgusted) that they reduce me to the name of my account, often in the same sentence.ย The “hello, I am a person” in my account is ripped away, and people stay put with “lillentheshire”. Like my account just somehow exists and uploads pictures, long captions, and respond to messages and comments all by itself. Like some weird form for AI that doesn’t have any emotions or free will.

I’ve always been thrown off by the “F4F?” comments I keep receiving. And being the person I am, I always decline in some polite way, with an explanation for why I don’t do F4F. You see; I care more about what I enjoy seeing, than the amount of followers I have. Shocking, right? So if I enjoy your content, I will follow you – easy as that. If I don’t, I will not.

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But the fun (or shall we call it a tragedy?) starts when people respond with threats, just because I choose for myself what I want to see on Instagram. For instance, someone just concluded that I am selfish and that don’t care about Lillen, simply because I wasn’t insulted by her calling him ugly. And she only called him ugly because I said I didn’t want to follow her back. I personally don’t understand why someone would be interested in following an ugly horse in the first place, but surely, her opinion should be fairly respected. She is allowed to think that he is ugly, right?

I even had one lady send me a poorly worded death threat, which I found hilarious. I invited her over for tea and told her when I’m typically home, and that she was free to stop by when she had time to. This is now four months ago, and she still hasn’t shown up. I don’t think that conversation went in the direction she wanted, but surely it is polite to show up when you’re invited home to someone, right?

Other more common threats is that they are going to stop following me. Which I happily advice them to, because if they can’t see me as the person I am, and follow me because THEY want to, I don’t really want them following ME.

What bothers me most, though, isn’t the fact that people enjoy the F4F culture. It is the fact that it reduces me from a person, to the name of my account. Because they are hunting for the “lillentheshire has now started following you”, and care more about that, than me as a person and what I enjoy to look at.

If you’re into this whole F4F-thing; you do you, alright? I know it’s an entire culture on Instagram, and as long as you still see people as humans, I don’t really care. But the amount of people who try to push me to get what they want, is disgustingly grand. If people politely decline, and even bother to send you a message so you know why, just don’t be a shithead back. Alright?

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I am a very picky person. I am on Instagram to see things I like, and that isn’t a whole lot. If your equipment doesn’t fit your horse properly, I will not follow. Because I don’t like seeing that. If you ride in a way that I do not like, I will not follow you, because I find poor treatment of horses disgusting. If your horses look constantly sad og angry, I will not follow you, because I don’t find it interesting. I also find little to no interest in liberty, yoga, vegan diets, clicker training of horses and so on. I might still follow you, because I see the human there and I find the human interesting. Easy like that, right?

And I care more about being inspired, happy, and find interest in things, than pleasing a person with “lillentheshire has now started following you”. I am not a people pleaser, have never been, never will be. I don’t see my account name as a prize. I don’t see my account name as an achievement. Because that is just the name of my account, that I as a person use to look at things I like, and upload a picture a day.

I also don’t like being pushed on, so if you ask me to follow you, I guarantee you that I will not. I will look at the name of your account and think “nope!” and just avoid you. Because I am a person who needs to be left alone. Who needs to be able to explore on my own. Because that is what gives me joy on social media. Because any push in a direction I do not want, will trigger my short temper and it will all be associated with the name of your account. Whops? That backfired quickly.

Yet I do my best to be polite and give a proper reply. Because I don’t want to reduce you to the name of your account, because I believe there is a person there somewhere. And so many people prove me wrong by acting up. I mean, I could just block them, right? Yet I choose to attempt to have a conversation with them.

Also, if anyone comments “F4F?” on any of my posts, I will delete it and mark it as spam. Because it implies that hunting for followers is normal, and I don’t want the younger persons following me to think that that’s completely fine way to see things. Because it’s not. We don’t need to boost the idea that the amount of followers defines you.

Allow me to be a person.

Emma

The Winter Clip 101

I’ve “put myself out there” and publically clipped my horse, and received a lot of different kinds of attention for it. Some get angry, some get curious (which someone handle great, others just get rude), and some openly takes my place in the “debate” and defends me. But what I’ve seen though, is a lack of knowledge about the subject. Let me guide you through the winter clip!

DSC_0091.jpgOne of my ex-horses; the fjord Odin. Rocking his clip!

There are many reasons why you would clip a horse. Many of my followers come from warmer countries (where there are no snow or “proper” winter), and therefore look at clipping as something you do during summer, to help the horse keep a reasonable temperature. To them; clipping the winter fur makes no sense, because the horse will need that fur for the colder temperatures!

Which is true. I 100% agree! The winter fur is great, and without a proper winter fur coat on, your horse can not keep himself warm on his own. He will simply freeze to death if you clip him, put him out on the field, and proceed to give zero fucks about him.

However, I think many forget that we take this whole winter clip-thing very seriously. I have over 15 different rugs, in different thicknesses and shapes, so I can closely monitor and keep his body temperature correct. My horse will not get cold, thanks to my rug wardrobe! He will also not get too warm. I also have extras of everything, in case something gets wet and doesn’t dry properly.

Let me also correct those of you who say “shave”; I know you probably know, but the terminology is a bit important. The horses are not shaved at all, they are clipped. That means that there is in fact fur left behind (you can choose how much by using different blades).

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Now, the reasons why we clip the horses are many. A perfectly healthy horse kept outside 24/7, will in 99% of the times, not get clipped. Let me guide you through the 5 main reasons as of why the winter fur is clipped away;

1. The horse has such poor winter fur quality, it doesn’t keep him warm. Putting rugs on top of a long, dysfunctional coat of fur makes it difficult to find the “correct” rug. Clipping away the fur will ease the struggle of finding the perfect rug. This is commonly seen in older horses, sick horses, and horses with PPID (Cushings Syndrome) etc.

2. The horse is stabled. With indoor temperatures, he will break a sweat. Sweating for up to 12 hours straight can (and most likely will) lead to skin conditions, such as eczema and dandruff etc. This can cause great discomfort, in addition to be itchy and bothersome. Being too warm for close to 12 hours might also result in a dehydrated horse, greatly increasing the risk of colic.

3. The horse is trained a lot. Many competition horses are clipped to ensure they’re comfortable even during tough training. A thick winter coat can overheat the horse and result in colic, or a discomfortable and angry horse who starts to look upon training as something bad.

4. The owner simply doesn’t want to spend two months getting the fur off. Yes, many times it can take months to brush all the hair out when winter is replaced with summer! Your entire wardrobe of rugs, saddle pads, bell boots, bandages and bridles (and your own clothes!!) will be drenched in fur and it really is bothersome.

5. The owner is allergic to horses, and clipping them makes it easier to handle them.

DSC_0130Fluffy Brego!

Now, I have no intentions to imprint on you that clipping the winter fur is the only way to go. If the fur is healthy and working properly, it will keep your horse warm even in the worst imaginable temperatures. It will keep him comfortable during basic training, and it will dry him up no-time when he gets sweaty. All he needs is a slight breeze, and swosh! Sweat away!

However, the more unnatural you keep your horses, the more you have to do in order for him to feel great. The winter fur is made to fit the horse’s natural needs, not our unnatural ways of keeping him. If he is put in a stable where the temperature is unnaturally warm, you need to help him. If you train him more than he would naturally exercise himself, you need to help him. No one gains anything positive from an overheated, angry horse, nor a sick horse with colic and skin conditions!

This year is the first time both Lillen and Brego has been clipped, and they both seem a lot more comfortable and energetic. They now don’t have to deal with spending energy on keeping themselves cool, and that is something they both seem to love! When they’re outside they get well fitted and warm rugs on, and they can move freely around. Brego has already gone rogue and runs around like the biggest cold-blooded rebel I’ve ever seen. I thought I had a calm youngster, but I think I need to find myself some extra safety gear next time I saddle up. The ER should be ready for me!

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Odin was very happy about his body temperature after he got his clip!

My preferred clip is to leave the head and the legs, so they have protection against the weather where I can’t supply them with rugs. This works great for my horses! Do you clip your horse, and why?

Emma

Our snowy routine

Many of my followers live in countries with less to no snow and/or ice, and have difficulties imagining a life where your house if half-way buried in snow, and where you have to ride your horses on ice. We have 6 hours of daylight (which you’ll miss out on, because you’re at work/school), and live a life in darkness for 5 months. Let me give you an idea of how we survive!

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The first clue to survive, is having good tyres on your car, so you can get around without dying on the road. Most cars in Norway drive with exccelent winter tyres, and many of these are studded, so you have a great advantage on slippery roads. I just got my own car, and even though it’s a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer (not a brand new car, to say the least, hehe!), I have a badass set of studded tyres. That car has not slipped once so far this winter!

Second clue of survival, is wool.

Yes, I know there are ‘vegan’ and more animal friendly materials to keep you warm, but wool is unbeatable. It is extremely breathable, it helps your body adjust temperature (you’ll rarely get sweaty wearing wool!), and if you do get wet, wool just keeps on warming you up. You can be soaked, and still be warm, even if the outside temperatures makes water freeze.

Also, wool doesn’t shed microplastic into the ocean like fleece do. If you’re concerned with animal welfare, shop wool from a farm with excellent animal care, and knit your own sweaters.

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Our horses usually don’t mind the winter, and if you leave them “as they are”, they will get a thick winter coat to keep them warm, and if they live barefoot, they’ll probably do just fine. Ice might be a challenge for barefoot horses, but they are born with instincs, and usually handle it well. You do not ride a barefoot horse on ice though; he needs to be left on his own, and take the time he needs to safely cross minding his own balance. A horse kept barefoot will usually be equipped with studded boots during a ride.

Horses who are not left “as they are”, will be shoed with studs and special snow soles, to ensure they have excellent grip on all surfaces you might ride across. The studs keep them from slipping; you can in fact ride a dressage session on slippery ice without a single issue. The snow soles keeps snow packs from building up underneath their hooves, and your horse won’t walk around on stilts.

Many horses are clipped too during the winter. Many refer to it as “shaving”, but in technical terms this is not correct; they are not shaved skin close, but they get their fur clipped. They do in fact have quite a lot of fur left. Clipping a horse requires good knowledge about rugs and how to blanket a horse, in addition to a large wardrobe of rugs for various needs and situations.

Clipping a horse ensures he does not overheat during training, and can be a good thing for horses who lives in a stable. Stables often get quite hot during the night, and a thick winter coat may result in a dehydrated horse, risking collic. It can also lead to eczema and other skin conditions, seeing as they will be drenched in their own sweat for close to 12 hours. If the horse is not stabled, he will usually not get a clip. Yes, we do have horses living outside 24/7, even in the harsh Norwegian winter. 90% of horses do this perfectly fine without the aid of rugs! Elderly and sick horses might need some help staying warm, but a healthy horse should have no problems staying outside.

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Our farrier putting on studded shoes with snow soles.

Riding and training outside is also not a problem. Ice is actually concidered a pretty soft surface (it’s quite springy!), and riding on/through snow is a wonderful feeling! As long as it is a powdery snow, and not snow with an ice crust on top, the horse will not bother a whole lot. We do however take the footing and resistance of the surface into thorough consideration; you don’t go showjumping on snow as the first thing after a snowfall. But being childish and galloping around on the arena knee-deep in snow, is not a problem. Showjumping can be saved for later when the arena has been plowed flat. Yes, we jump on snow and ice.

Many think it’s irresponsible to ride on ice and/or snow, but think about this; what should we rather do? The number of accidents is close to zero and with all the precautions we take, an accident is rarely a big one.

Many places in Norway is covered in frost and snowy fluff for close to 6 months of the year. Should the horses stay inside, or only train inside, for 6 months at the time? I think not!

Improvice. Adapt. Overcome!

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“COME AT MEH!!” says Mr. Cat. “Nah I cannot do that untill I’ve greeted you the dog way!” says Mr. Dog. They love playing together in the snow!

Also, the darkness is someting we adapt to. We have eyes that work and headlights in case it’s awfully dark and no moon outside. You’d be surprised about how bright it can become outside, when the moon is out and reflecting on all the snow and ice!

Emma

Riding bitless with a 1200kg horse

As an equestrian who does not check any boxes regarding what I do (or don’t do) with my horses, I often receive a lot of questions about what I actually think about [insert stuff]. So let me tell you about life with a 1200kg (2650lbs) horse and what I think about riding without a bit.

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Seeing as liberty, freedom and bitless bridles is the main equestrian trend on Instagram (along with being vegan, and doing crossfit and yoga *cough, stereotypes, sorry!*), my comment section has since day one been filled with “why don’t you ride Lillen bitless?” and “you are hurting him with a bit like that”.

The first typical comment is a totally fair question to ask, which I am happy to answer! The second typical comment is one of those I really want to answer as sarcastic as I can, because it shows how brainwashed and/or uneducated people are when it comes to the horse’s mouth.

I also get this slightly bad taste in my mouth if I see someone comment “bitless! thank god you’ve seen the light!” on a post where Lillen is pictures with a bitless bridle, because I’m pretty sure my next picture will be of him wearing a snaffle or a pretty massive curb. The only light I have seen is the one who tells me to not close off any options. I know I was going to talk about bitless bridles, but let me just make one thing clear about bits:

A bit cannot hurt a horse.

A human can.

If we go with the “bits hurt horses”-thing, I’m pretty sure we also can claim that spoons make people fat and that cars drive drunk.

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Sure, a bit can create a lot of pain if used without care or by hands who do not know what to do. Just like a gun is the best and probably easiest way to murder anyone. But it won’t do so on its own.

So if you feel uncomfortable walking around with a gun, you probably shouldn’t. Just as you should ditch the bit if you feel uncomfortable with it. I love my bits, and have probably 52 different ones hanging in my stable, so I can hand pick whatever fits the mood of the day and the horse I am riding.

But I love bitless alternatives too.

To answer the question ‘why don’t you ride Lillen bitless?’, it’s all very simple:

You don’t get one his size.

For real; we can’t even find a fitting halter. How on earth should we find a well made bitless bridle?

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Trotting bitless in the snow…

Baby Lillen had a gigantic hackamore which we barely managed to squeeze around his nose. He outgrew that after a few months. And then we were back to “uhm, and where do we find something bigger?”, and the regular bridle with a bit.

His halter has never been secure enough to ride in, as he is a strong horse and a halter will act wobbly. We do not have a death wish. We also believe that wobblyness is no good way to communicate (hence why I don’t like most gag bits).

And in all honesty, we have never had enough money to get one custom made. That price doubles once the horse is the size of an elephant, and you know; we’d rather have gas for our car, or food to fill Lillen’s stomach.

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A fat baby Lillen with his poorly fitted barely-fitting hackamore.

So one of the first things I made when I started crafting my own equipment, was a sidepull for Lillen.

All my horses have had a bitless bridle, so that we can choose whatever communciation tool we want to, and whatever fits the best for whatever we’re doing. Brego was started in a sidepull and just recently advanced to the bit, and all my other horses have been “forced” into the bitless alternatives because I think it is important. Lillen enjoyed his hackamore, but doesn’t mind bits.

Now he enjoys his sidepull, and still doesn’t mind bits.

Riding a large horse bitless is no different from riding them with a bit, unless you choose to canter on the way back to the stable after a long hack. With a bit you can stop him if you needed to. With a sidepull, you just have to grab his mane and hang on and hope his stamina runs out before you meet something.

Lillen is a very sensitive horse who care about his rider. If we say something, he usually says “okay”. It’s also worth taking into consideration that we communicate mostly with our seat and legs, so what the reins are attached to is less important for the horse. This applies to all the horses we’ve ridden bitless, and seeing as Lillen is “just another” horse (alright, he is a tad special, but still a horse), he acts no different. If you want to try your horse bitless, start safe inside the arena and with someone keeping an eye out for you. I’m not saying you are going to die just becasue you are trying something new, but to many horses the messages they recieve through a bitless bridle is unknown to them and you might find yourself with less control than usual.

We do however ride bitless mainly inside the riding arena with Lillen, due to his strength. If a smaller horse bolts bitless whilst hacking, you will have a saying because your strength as a rider can pull the horse out of balance, turn him around or apply enough force to make him stop/slow down. If Lillen bolts, we will NOT be able to get the same message across bitless. If he bolts, he bolts, and sadly that might be the end of him (and maybe us) and whatever he runs into.

With a curb we are able to stop an emergency from happening. With a sidepull, we have no chance. And sure; we trust him to not bolt, and he doesn’t usually bolt. But that is not a risk we’re willing to take. We trust him to be kind and responsive, but we also trust him to be a horse. Horses can spook, and horses can bolt.

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DSC_0072.jpgThrowing in a little picture of baby Brego too!

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I don’t think riding with a bit makes you a bad person, nor do I believe you are morally superior by choosing bitless only. One of my previous trainers permanently damaged my 6 y/o horse with a sidepull, and if you saw her riding you’d never have thought the outcome would be what it was. It wasn’t ugly to look at, yet her nose was swollen and sore when we came back into the stable. The problem will always be the rider and his/her hands, and the lack of proper guidence and education of the horse.

I choose to do a bit of all; bitless in different shapes and sizes, bits, both snaffles and curbs, and a bitless/bit-combination. I think that having many tools in your toolbox and the ability to adapt, is a strength a rider can have and something that will benefit the horse ๐Ÿ™‚ Lillen seems happy with that choice, and so do my other horses!

Emma

Questions and Answers

The deal is simple; you ask, I answer!

Yesterday I posted the news about my new blog on Lillens Instagram Account, and asked you for questions. I recieve a whole lot of questions on a day-to-day basis, but boy I had NOT expected the amout of questions I would recieve once I asked for them! You guys rock! Many of them was sent by DM, but some also appeared in my post. Let’s gooo!

Where did you get Lillen? question from @marlee.sip (IG), @audreywalke (IG) andย @madi_275 (IG)
I found Lillen’s ad on the Swedish site hastnet.se – a place to sell and buy horses and equipment. There aren’t many Shire Horses in Scandinavia, and I frequenty searched all the pages I could find for a good looking and handsome Shire. I sent Lillens ad to my mother, who fell head over heels for his slighly ugly (yet very charming) looks. Not very long after he was bought and on his way to Norway.

How long have you had Lillen? question from @audreywalke (IG) and @x.mia.and.roo.x (IG)
Lillen came to us in May 2012. So about 5 years and 4 months or something.

544968_10150869075271681_2066592149_n.jpgLillen, two days after his arrival in Norway. Look at that babyface! His bum is so much larger than anything else! He has no neck! Aww, adorable!

How old is Lillen? question from @audreywalke (IG)
Lillen is 10 years old.

How much did you pay for Lillen? question from @thehappynouille (IG)
Asking how much someone paid for their horse is quite the personal question, in which I feel a bit uncomfortable to answer. I also didn’t pay for him (he is officially my mother’s horse), so I have no exact number ๐Ÿ˜› His previous owner asked quite little for him, as he was a bit behind on his education, as well as having some issues in his body. However; take into consideration what we had to pay at the border to get him in to Norway + transport, and he was no cheap horse at all! We fixed him up and have taught him a lot of things, and now he is probably worth double as much as what we paid for him five years ago.

How do you plan things around the horses once the darkness of winter comes around the corner? question from @tinyastroide (IG)
There is not a whole lot of planning to do, actually. The horses stay outside until it gets late (we pick them in around eight in the evening), and are very used to everything being dark. Our riding arena is equipped with huge lights, and mucking the field after work is no problem with a good headlamp. Riding out in the forest is also easy once you get a good headlamp to put on your helmet (just take your time to make the horse familiar with being half blind, as you will shine light into his eyes every now and then).

During the “worst” periods, it’s daylight for maybe 6 hours a day. If you go to school, or have a dayjob, you will miss those 6 hours! But that’s no problem for us norwegians, we just put on some hi-viz clothing and some good headlamps, and life proceed as normal.

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I’d like to know how you have time and energy to reply to everyone’s comments individually to make them feel special! wondered by @czarneckigirl (IG)
Haha, well, first of all; thank you!

I talk A LOT. I read quickly, write quickly, and spend a lot of time online. Replying to people on IG gives me energy, actually! ๐Ÿ™‚ I also wholeheartedly live by the belief that if someone take their time to write to me, the least I can do is to write back. It’s not that I feel like I owe it to anyone, but I feel some sort of weird responsibility to be kind and loving to everyone. You guys are not just any followers, you guys are MY followers! I’ll always do my best to make you feel special. Unless you’re an asshole. Because I’m good at being mean and sassy whenever needed x)

Jumping or Dressage? question from @aizha134
Dressage! Forever and always!

Why do you get so mean when someone ask F4F, ‘self-advertize’ (as you call it) in your comment section or tag you in their pictures? questioner wanted to stay anonymous (which I will respect).
Good question! However; saying that I am ‘mean’ is pulling it a bit far, I think. I mark the comment as spam (which will delete it), and I send a short and fairly neutral explaination of why I did it to whoever posted it. Because I think they deserve to know why, as they are persons just like me. And why, you ask? Because I don’t believe the amount of followers define you and your content. I also believe that going around and openly seeking attention is a negative thing, and will have negative input on people around you. I don’t want all the young girls following me to see that craving for followers is a completely normal thing to do. Because it is not. And I refuse to pretend it is.

As far as tagging me in random pictures just to have me see it (i.e. a post with no correlation to me whatsoever), I get annoyed because IG alerts me of a comment or that I’ve been tagged in something, and I immediately go and check it out so I can give a response. Given the amount of time and effort I put into replying to EVERYONE who says someting to me, being spammed with random shit (sorry, not sorry) is very bothersome. It takes away my ability to see those who actually try to get in touch with me. Those who spend their time and energy in writing a comment or DM, only do have it drown in attention seeking people’s posts.

And YES, I get that you probably want me to see you and that you want to share your content with me. Because you are proud of something. And that is nice. And I do appreciate those of you who want to share your content with me, because you think I will enjoy it. I wholeheartedly feel honoured that people think of me apart from when I’m spamming you with pictures of Lillen.

But A LOT of the stuff I’m tagged in is purely “hey look at me, give me attention”, with ย 15-20 other super huge accounts tagged too. And THAT is attention-seeking, annoying, and feels like spam.

And that is the very long answer to why I do not like self-advertizing and delete it from my account ๐Ÿ˜›

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Do you have a personal account? question from @anneliewallin21p (IG)
No ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t have time for that! I think…

Why do you ride without stirrups? question from @anneliewallin21p (IG)
Well, this is also something that might take me some time to answer ๐Ÿ˜›

Because I ride without stirrups more or less only whilst riding Lillen. When riding Brego (unless we’re bareback) and Diego, there are always a good pair of stirrups involved (Sprenger 4 System; I love you).

There are mainly two reasons for why we ride without stirrups on Lillen though; 1) His “saddle” and 2) Our leg length. Let me demonstrate:

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With a stirrup on, you need a certain angle in your knee before the stirrup can offer any actual support and be helpful. The more defined angle in your knee; the “shorter” your leg will appear. And be. With stirrups on, there is no way for us to offer him any actual support – nor will we be able to use the leg aid in the desired position. We have to communicate with his tummy mucles, not poke ribs! ๐Ÿ˜› (Yes I know one pic is bareback and one with the saddle, but you get the idea. And we can talk about the spurs another time ;P)

The other reasen as of why we don’t use stirrups all that often, is because of his “saddle”. He has out-grown his dressage saddle, and now all we’re left with is a cheap, brand-less treeless saddlethingy. With no actual tree, the weight distribution is poor, and we don’t want unneccesary preassure points on his back.

Besides, we don’t need stirrups when riding Lillen. When he spooks, it is in slow motion (surely, it’s a large spook to sit through, but slow? yes) ๐Ÿ˜› And any rider should in my opinion have the strength, balance and flexibility to ride without stirrups on a regular basis.

Fun Fact; I can’t get Diego to do leg yields when I have stirrups on, they ruin everything.
Fun Fact 2; If Diego spooks and I don’t have stirrups on, I’ll die.

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How much money goes into a huge ass horse? question from @my.pony_star (IG)
Haha! Well! Even if he is a large horse, he doesn’t eat that much food. Think of him like a (huge) fat coldblooded pony. They get thick just from looking at grass ๐Ÿ˜› And yes, it takes a bit of hay to feed him, but he eats about the same amount as Diego to be honest.

Now, food is one thing. The only farrier in the area who is willing to shoe Lillen want’s about 4500kr (about $570) for the job, and due to his weight he need new shoes every 4th week. Now THAT is expencive. And of course we will not pay that much ๐Ÿ˜› So we trim him ourselves. Equipment is a pain to find within the norwegian border, so whenever he need something like a rug, we need to pay the prize of the rug + quite a lot to get it through customs. If he need to go anywhere, we need to book him a full size lorry, he need twice as much medicine then an ordinary horse, he break things about ten times as easily as an ordinary horse… etc.

I have no exact numbers on how much he costs us a week, but he is in no way a cheap horse to have around ๐Ÿ˜›

What is your favourite breed? question from @my.pony_star (IG)
I don’t have a favourite breed, I am more of a personality and potential-kind of person. Any horse with a good temper and a nice body is good looking to me; wheter it is a Shire Horse, a slimmer sport horse, a chunkier and smaller draft, an iberian etc. The only horses I “don’t like” are extremely fragile-looking horses, such as arabians, thin thoroughbreds, slim ponies etc. I like them heavy!

Would you get another Shire after Lillen? question from @my.pony_star (IG)
I probaby would! But I would not be in a hurry. I take my time to find the”perfect” horse, and if no perfect shire is around whenever Lillen decides to ‘move on’, I’ll just have to wait.

Is there anything you would like to change about him? question from @my.pony_star (IG)
He could use a little more mane and tail!

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If you could invent one horse/stable thing, what would it be? (Either tack, props, machines ect) question from @my.pony_star (IG)
There’s a lot of things I’d like to have, but I think most of it is invented already. But automatic water buckets for the horses would be nice, with heated pipes so they don’t freeze and break during winter! I HATE carrying water all over the place…

And whew!!

I think I’ll draw the line there, seeing as I’ve already written a small novel about myself here. I’ve warned you, guys; I talk wayyyy too much! ๐Ÿ˜›

Hope you learnt something new, and that I answered what you wondered! Many asked the same questions, but I tried to get you all in here ๐Ÿ™‚ And if there’s anything else you want to ask me about; reach out!

Emma