Rodney’s preference, a simple hackamore. He reacts poorly to leather [Life in the Slow Lane, Here We Stand], hence the homemade nylon crownpiece and nylon race reins [Bridle Colors: photos]. We had no choice about the leather nosepiece [New equipment: photo] as our non-leather version was too bulky.
My preference. As above with bit and second set of reins. I like having the option of positive control. Unfortunately, if I touch the bit reins, Rodney curls up like a salted slug. Yup, he backs off from a Happy Mouth plain mullen loose ring snaffle [New Equipment: photo], possibly the mildest bit on the planet. Even having it on with slack reins seems to cause tension.
For now, we are doing it his way. Will his increased comfort level compensate for my decreased one? The jury is still out.
The Possible Compromise
In order to go cross-country, one must get through dressage. In order to get through dressage, one must wear a bit. In the future, I may use the hackamore with stand-alone bit as an interim step. Note the lack of rein to the bit. He has to wear it but does not have to respond to it. A friend of mine rode this way to help a horse work through bit issues.
Since the reins are not leather, I installed a breakaway at the buckle. A toss-up between them coming apart while I ride versus Rodney getting tangled up if his ground tie fails and he goes galloping across the field. Ask me how I know about this possibility.
In all the tack switching, the browband appears to have gone walkabout.