When I was a kid and a young adult, I used a curb bit. It was the only bit I had ever been exposed to and I didn't have my own horse so I used the bit and bridle that belonged to whichever horse I was borrowing at the time. The horses were all western trail horses so curb was the bit. I did learn to ride on a loose rein with little to no contact. When I returned to riding much later, after having kids and establishing my career, and
2. Helmet or no helmet?
Brett and I both always, always ride with a helmet. We require that helmets be used by anyone riding our horses as well. I was bucked off of Mr. Mike, when I returned to riding and finally bought a horse of my own, and was fortunately wearing a helmet. I never wore a helmet when I was a kid. No self-respecting kid or trail rider did. But by the time I returned, helmets were the norm for dressage. I came out of that hard fall a bit dazed, with whiplash and a helmet sporting a huge crack. A few years later, Brett fell when trying to mount from a boulder. Strider who was trail solid, scooted away at the last minute and ran for home, -- and Brett got his very own cracked helmet. Horses are prey animals. If they are startled, they head for the hills and ask questions later. Riders don't always stay on for the entire trip to the hills.
3. Favorite horse color
When I was a kid, I was in love with the Black Stallion so a shiny blue black coat was my favorite. I've always been drawn to solid colors and I prefer rich, deep colors so dark bays followed my love of black and then I went through a long period of loving dark antique gold buckskins with silken black manes and tails. When we bought Strider, I fell in love with his shiny copper-penny summer coat. I think chestnut remains my favorite color; although a well muscled elegant mover of any color is eye candy.
4. Least favorite horse color
I don't like cremolas much. And, I have to admit that I prefer solids to patterns (I'm the same way with clothes). That being said, we've had some awesome Paint horses and Winston's appaloosa coloring was fun. I wouldn't reject a horse based on color and I love Jackson's dark eyes against his grey coat, even though grey has never been top of my list. And, like with people, personality becomes the color you see after you've known them for awhile. The rest of it just fades away.