Tuesday, October 9, 2012


This is a Crow/Plateau style bridle I just finished for a commission.  I am calling it a Crow/Plateau style bridle,  because these bridles were used by both groups of people.  This one though does lean more towards the Crow style:  The keyhole design on the forehead symbolizes a "Bears Eye" and the design down the nose is the back of a horned lizard.   And a quote from Dr. Tim McCleary:

In the Crow language men usually call them axxíabaaloope which means *forehead crescent* I think this is a reference to the *najas* of Colonial Spanish bridles. In turn, women say, isbaapihpée which can be understood as heavy plaited, beaded/fringed fabric that covers the face, I think referring to mosquero predecessors. A similar term in Crow means an oriental carpet, baapihpéealaxaape, heavy plaited/fringed fabric laid flat."

I beaded this one using hand done rawhide, sinew sewn antique beads and paint cookies which I got from Beadmatch.com.  

The reins are made of horsehair, and are wrapped in tradecloth and buckskin thongs and are called  "Firecrackers" 

The bit on this one is one I purchased but was collected off the Umatilla reservation in Oregon.  This type of ring bit was very popular among native equestrians,  although my horse was not quite sure what I had in his mouth for the photos :-)  

Having a well dressed horse was important to the equestrian tribes.  It was and still is a source of pride and status today.  The peoples of the Plateau and the Crow have huge annual events such as Crow Fair where hundreds of horses and riders turn out to parade daily.  



Hanna Pirat said...

The halter is absolutley beautiful, but the bit is one of the worst instruments of torture I have ewer seen! PLEAS don`t use it on any living animal!

Angela Swedberg said...

Thanks for your words Hanna.

I used this bit for photo purposes only. That said, I have extensive knowledge and education in the traditions of Vaquero bits including spade and ring bits. These are often very misunderstood. Firstly, one does not use a bit on a horse like this unless the horse has had years of incremental education from the bosal, two rein and into the finish bridle rein process. All my horses have done this so are very soft and responsive to the bit. But more important than that - its the rider who must be trained and understand how to use these bits. These bits are used only on finished horses and educated hands. If you cause any distress to the horse, you are not using it right.

To fully explain this process is a very lengthy discussion. I had heard criticism before from those who don't understand bits and think them a weapon against the horse. Nothing could be farther from the truth when they are used as intended by giving and educated hands on a trained horse. And I have also seen many a horse tortured by those who don't understand bits and are not educated riders. I have seen horses mouths shredded by snaffle bits and also jaws broken by those who think a mechanical hackamore is more "Humane" because they think because there is no bit in the mouth it is kind to the horse.

But know, to to make accusations of torture is a far reaching comment, especially since I am well known in my area for having well broke horses that I would take anyone to the carpet over if they mistreated or mishandled them.

And....the gear on his head is a bridle. A halter is something entirely different.

Best, Angela

faithbelair627 said...

Nice reply and I would love to have one with a snaffle bit

Angela Swedberg said...

I can happen Faith Belair :-) You can contact me at angelaswedberg@me.com Thank You.