I really, really like using the KK Ultra with the Western headstall, dropped noseband and latigo reins. The headstall is sturdier leather (also latigo leather) and of a better quality than the English headstall, and the latigo leather splits make me keep my hands upright rather than sneak into puppy dog paws or twist them around or whatever the heck else I keep wanting to do instead of keeping them in a correct snaffle rein position. Interestingly, too, I feel like I was getting a better quality of schooling today in the Western saddle than I have in snaffle work of late in the English saddle. Just easier to sit more upright and sink my heels down hard.
I suppose that means if I ever get another English saddle I should be looking at dressage saddles instead, or a medium tree rather than a wide tree. As it were, I found myself using my core more effectively and doing more without that bracing feeling we had the last time I did snaffle, in English. Lots more half-halts. Lots more support from the saddle itself. The Crates does have that little sweet spot that you can lock into which is similar but not quite the same as a dressage saddle thigh block.
And we won’t talk about how much more effective it is to go two-handed in a snaffle rather than a curb. Oh hey, I guess we are. Even with a correction curb, it’s not the same, and I’m always backing off because, well, hey, it’s a curb. But there’s not that same feel that I had in the single-jointed snaffle, either. With the KK I can pick her up a little bit more effectively and she’s not getting pissy about the joint bumping her in the mouth, either.
I have this sneaking hunch that the Collegiate was grabbing her in the shoulders whenever I started half-halting/working from my core/lower back, especially at the trot and canter, because now her reaction is totally different from when I was doing this in the Collegiate and the KK. Instead of getting pissy or backing off, she’s rounding up, taking herself forward–and the withers are coming up. I’m getting a stronger, more elevated trot and a rounder collected canter without the fits and starts and stalling out.
Plus much more effective two-track work at the trot.
So interesting work. We’ll see where it goes from here.