For ground training, I use a rope halter and several lengths of rope – a 12’ line, 22’ line, and a 45’ line. The 12’ and 22’ lines are different than regular lead ropes or longe lines. They are made of yachting rope and provide a more balanced, comfortable feel to the horse and human.
The 45’ line is made of lariat rope. I use it mainly when doing more advanced maneuvers on the ground and teaching a horse to respond to my communication from further away.
The rope halter discourages a horse from leaning or pushing into pressure, unlike a nylon or leather halter which actually feels comfortable for a horse to push in to.
I also use a fiberglass stick with a string attached made from a thinner version of the yachting rope as an extension of my arm to communicate to the horse. The fiberglass stick has better feel, is more balanced, and is easier to control than a regular lunge whip because it is not flexible.
For riding I generally use a loose ring snaffle bit, either single or double jointed (similar to a French link snaffle). My reins are made of the same yachting rope as my lead ropes are. You are welcome to use whatever reins and bit you like in lessons, as long as the bit is comfortable for the horse and allows you to communicate with each rein separately (such as a different style of snaffle or a Myler bit). I do not recommend riding in a curb bit or double bridle for lessons or training. These are best saved for a finished horse who has completed advanced training.
I also use a Parelli Theraflex Saddle Pad when I ride. This pad uses a combination of air and foam to conform to the horses back as it moves to prevent pinching or pressure points. Lesson students are welcome to try riding with my Theraflex pad or bridles or to use my ropes, halters, and fiberglass stick for ground training.
I do not use, or advocate the use of other training equipment such as tie-downs, martingales, draw reins, or even nosebands that are fastened tightly for the purpose of tying a horse’s mouth shut. Horses that toss their heads, have a high head carriage, or open their mouths when being ridden are giving you feedback about the quality of your riding – whether you’re aids are not clear, your hands are too heavy, or you haven’t warmed them up properly to get them connected and thinking with you. If you tie a horse’s head down or tie their mouth shut you take away that ability to give you that feedback and your riding will never improve. There are some great techniques and exercises you can do both on the ground and while riding to fix all of the above issues!