Sunday, September 23, 2018

A trail ride and a DIY Cordeo

I'm taking a break from editing my cross country photos to post this story and DIY guide.

On Saturday I took advantage of the newly arrived fall weather (Happy Equinox!) and loaded Gwyn up for a trip to Wolcott Mill Metropark for a conditioning ride. As I approached the park entrance I started seeing road closure signs, which was worrying. Thankfully the road was closed after the park entrance and I didn't have to try and turn a truck and trailer around.

When I got to Wolcott Mill I realized that their Equine Festival was that day. I didn't have to pay to trail ride, at least, but it was a little funny being there, on a horse, while the festival was going on. There were demonstrations and a couple lectures from local vets.

I did not attend. I wanted to ride! I brought an older bridle with a mullen mouth elevator to see if that helped keep her rateable if we were cantering. I also had double reins, one on the snaffle ring and one on the lowest ring of the gag. My goal was to minimize the gag action during regular riding.

Gwyn was good to both load and get tacked up. I was a little surprised she was calm with all the stuff going on from the festival. Honestly, if I take her places solo she's not herdbound at all. But if I pair up with a buddy when we get to a place, she gets herdbound to them. She didn't want to leave the parking area but once we were down the hill and toward the trail she figured out what we were there for and moved out nicely.

I rode out to the path under the road aaaaand suddenly realized why the road was closed. There was construction equipment everywhere as they were repairing the bridge. The equipment was not an issue, it was the deep tractor tire tracks that she didn't like. Ridiculous mare.

I wanted to get to the river this time since we were cut off by a thunderstorm last time. I made it to the river, after looping back and forth on a short trail having fun over some small logs that were down across the path. Then it was down into the river on an easy sloping bank. Gwyn drank deeply, rubbed her face, and promptly rubbed her bridle right off.

Definitely me

So we're standing in a shin to knee high on me river, my bridle is nearly dragging in the water as I'm trying to hold it up against Gwyn's neck so she won't catch a foot by mistake and I have no idea what to do.

I managed to steer her with my seat out of the water and back onto dry land and then she wouldn't whoa. Just. Wouldn't. Whoa. I was doing everything I could and she was ignoring me. She had ears on me, I swear she heard me, she just didn't care.

Definitely Gwyn
So we're walking for maybe 20ft while I contemplate my options. I have a hard time mounting without some sort of height assistance but at this point I didn't think I could rebridle her from the saddle.

I thanked the gods that I was in Pony Club and emergency dismounted from the walk. Gwyn promptly halted as I kicked my feet out of the stirrups and leaned over to get off.

I got her bridle back on (and tightened the throatlatch like WAY more than before) and since I had forgotten to take off her rope halter and it was just hanging around her neck, I tied that on top of the bridle for good measure. I think maybe the browband on that bridle was too small? Maybe? It's a good excuse to get a blingy browband right?

I walked her back to the trotting logs and found a bigger tree that I could climb on and side pass Gwyn over for easy mounting. She was great for that and very amenable.

Anyway, the rest of the ride was great! We cantered, we did lots of trotting and since I promised Eric I'd only ride for an hour, I got about 4.5 miles of riding in, which is pretty good considering part of that was me on foot trying to find a stump to mount from and part was convincing Gwyn that tire tracks weren't going to eat her. 

Anyway, upon relating this story to my horsey friends on facebook and deciding that this meant that bridless training was in our future since stopping without a bridle would have helped me feel a bit more secure, someone suggested I get a cordeo, or neck rope to train with.

I went to etsy, saw that they were basically being made from paracord and sold for 15-40$. Well... I have paracord. So....

I made my own. It's all done. If I hadn't gotten distracted working on my website last night I would have made it in less than a day.

So here's my DIY instructions for it based on studying pictures on etsy. There was some variation in number of strands to use. I liked the look of the flat braid with 9 strands. I decided on my pattern and colors I was using and set up my strands. The recommendation I saw was you wanted each length to be 1.5 times your final length. This rule seems to have held for this project so it is my advice here. I measured Gwyn's neck and did half a length more.
 I tied one set of ends in simple knot to start the braid. It's literally a simple three strand braid where each strand is three additional strands. You keep it flat as you go and it becomes nice and wide. It feels good in your hands. You could also do a 6 strand simple flat braid where you do pairs. I like to stick a small ring in my knot and I hook that around a toe so I can more easily keep tension in the braid as I build it.

 The braid builds pretty quickly. Most of your time is spent on the extra length management as you move it back and forth.
 Once I reached the end of the paracord I taped up each end. I experimented a bit with a way to either end the braided ends or somehow weave them together, but ultimately decided on turning on my gas stove and heating up a sharp knife. I had my husband assist with this, FYI. I held the braided end down and he cut through it with the hot knife, which melted and fused the nylon well enough to keep the braid together. We repeated for the other end.

Then, I used the flame on the stove to slightly melt the flat of the braid and pressed the ends together to make a full loop. The attachment is reinforced with a King Cobra knotting that makes a nice wide handle.
 So you start with a basic Solomon/Cobra knot. The length rule for this is 1ft of paracord for every INCH of braiding. I thought a bit and did two Amy Lengths (finger tip to finger tip hands outstretched). This works up super quickly.
 I sealed the paracord and went to get the overlay to make it a King Cobra. King Cobra is basically just cobra on top of cobra. For the overlay, I did 3 Amy lengths. You do the knots opposite of the lower cobra and it comes out really neat.
And when you use slightly reflective paracord it really brightens up when you take a photo with flash.

Finished project with a Hazel Helper

It was a super fast project, looks exactly like what I could have bought, and I can't wait to start working with it. I think it will be a good winter project for us. Something to work on bareback in the arena when I don't want to do much. I'm thinking I'll keep a pouch of treats to reward her halt and reinforce it. Gwyn is very food motivated.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you got out of that situation quickly and safely. Eek! Steel shook her bridle right off during an endurance ride once. We were also knee deep in water at the time, and she did it just as her friends took off trotting down the trail away from her! Thankfully, I was able to re-bridle her while she trotted after them, but it was a bit hairy for a minute there. The neck rope is beautiful!!! I'm impressed :)