Rio Rondo Enterprises Etchings Tests
December 2017

Ideas and Testing continues....
Halter Parts Bijoux 12/17 One-Ear Plates Weymouth Hack Bit Cowhorse Bit

December 24, 2017:
We were able to sneak in a secondary set of tests in early December, and got them just in time to close out the year... and see what we got.

Squee Alert!

Halter Rings

You know you want it.

Because, I sure do!

We've been working on putting together some new designs and parts for halter sets. People have been requesting the little "moon" things for awhile but development timeframes are pretty glacial when it comes to speed, but finally here's something to show for it.

I'll stuff in another picture, and then a somewhat smaller variant (discussion below).

Halter Rings

Halter Rings

It was hard to decide what size these rings should actually be, so tests were made in 3 sizes (a smaller one is on the bottom). There's a bit of variance on size of these parts with the live horse versions, so there's room to play a bit.

Personally I love how the detail came out on the larger ones. The smaller ones didn't have as much room for deco. But if we only adjusted the inner diameter of the ring, to the small size, leaving everything else the same widths, the nicer deco could be fit in to get all the "punch" of the deco, without being maybe a little too large.

But you can be the judge and let me know, because I'm really divided on how large that ring (and moon) should be.

So here's what they look like before they are attached. The larger ring has the same inner diameter as a JR6 jump ring.

Halter Rings

You can separate them if you want... but this way, the two pieces are always perfectly aligned, and the leather covers up the connectors (which can be trimmed to however little you want them to be).

Halter Rings

The little shim of leather behind there was achieved by skiving a piece of lace really thin, then cutting little triangle "darts" out of it on one side. Using super-glue gel, I was able to easily position and bend the lace to line up with the curve. I did this, before attaching the other straps, so it is "sandwiched" in between the layers.

While this was done on the smaller ring, and the smaller ring just barely fits 3 straps of 1/8" lace. in most cases this type of ring is outfitted with a narrower strap for chin adjustments. Here I used a 3/32" strap for that, so things aren't cramped. They are also less cramped if the straps are well-skived. The cheek ring (shown in the first photo above) is another test... a simple decorated ring with a celtic knot design. Unfortunately the border didn't work out and needs help, but sometimes you just have to try it and see what happens.

Celtic halter ring

That's what those look like... the smaller one was used on the halter. The concept of a celtic knot as a halter plate design would likely work a bit better than this did on the rings. The design is there, but it is very tough to see with the naked eye.


Here's a bit more of this particular halter plate design. There was a full buckle set, but we only had 2 keepers: I broke one and Gary inadvertently sacrificed one to the gods of the shop floor, but the buckle is lovely! Still needs a little tweaking and you can see how the hole lost its shape on the smaller buckle. But this is why we do tests. The large buckle fits 3/32" and the smaller one would be 1/16".

Of course this reminds me about how fragile those keepers are. When they work they are great and when they don't... you have to glue the deco portion on a leather keeper. Keepers (and tips) are less expensive to produce without the tabs, to the point of being able to include a few extras in case of loss.... which is harder to do with the tabbed ones. I have not received much feedback on which method people prefer. (Let me know, if you have a preference).

Square Rings

Thinking I was brilliant, I made some square rings, using the "Jewel-cut" design. They're really cute, and I thought they could be used under the chin. However, at least with these "lunar" halter plates, the halter will be more easily fitted to a model if there's a round ring under the chin... far more freedom to adjust the straps for the best look on any particular horse. The square rings would force the leather straps to be perpendicular (possibly more useful with a standard 3-slotted ring). So yes, we can make square rings, but I have no specific idea of what they might be used for.

1/8" and 3/32" shown in the pic.

And now for the last item:


Some people want a concho they can set a jewel in, and Gary fiddled a bit to get some that were etched through. Essentially they make a ring, and you can glue a jewel or whatever in the middle. They'll set in a little deeper instead of riding on top.

The purple jewel came with a "fingernail art" set... that's probably 2mm. I found some nail art "nail heads", one silver and one gold, which were about 1.5mm on the bottom row. The yellow ring is an optical illusion... the gold color of the "nail head" seems like it leaked out over the concho.

This is mostly a concept test, so if you're interested in anything like this, you'll have to talk to Gary about it. (And while you're at it, you can tell him what you think of his great close-up photography!)

December 10, 2017:
In case you missed it, we have a good selection of "Bijoux" (small-scale) items in stock. The best place to see what is available now, is to check out the page:

Bijoux Hardware Page

To see the discussion on additional Bijoux test items in progress:

Bijoux Etchings

Trad-Scale One-Ear Bridle Plates
We tested some ideas for one-ear plates, and I do believe these are a success!


Here we have the flat plates. Squeezed into the corner is a lone test of a trad-scale etched half-cheek bit.


...and here it is, in action! What worked best for attachment, was to make 2 leather loops for "sliders" with a little tab sticking out. The ends of the plate were super-glued to the tabs. I did not have any luck gluing a plate to a straight strap of leather, although a specially-cut curved piece of leather (perhaps skiver) likely would work.

This shape works well, because you can put a slight bend in the center portion, and then adjust how much curvature you need. You can also cut off the ends to make it shorter (and fit snugger). It does allow you to create a bridle that can be specially fitted to models with ears of different sizes and positions. We also tested this for the "Bijoux" scale, and they work exactly the same (except harder to hold on to!).

This plate is 1/16" wide.


I tried two of the different designs here. The one on the horse's left side (rope) I assembled by "sandwiching" the end of the plate between a folded over piece of lace for the loop. Unfortunately, here's where I found that super-glue doesn't seem to work very well on the flesh side of leather. I didn't have time to try a different glue, but your mileage may vary.

I like how nicely the plates lay against the head, and "hug" the ears, and you can really fine-tune the curvature as you desire.

Weymouth/SaddleSeat Hack Bit
One of our customers asked us why we didn't have a longer-shanked Weymouth bit (sometimes also known as a "saddleseat hack" bit, or similar) for breeds that compete with them. The answer was, because nobody asked or indicated they needed one.

So, we went to the drawing board, and added a test for a new "twist" so to speak, and here's what we came up with:


This is the bit in its "unassembled" form. We thought we could make a little "tab" where we could attach a loose ring.


And this is how that worked out. I LIKE it! Testing this gives us more potential options with future bits. The ring used here is a JR3 size.


Here's what it looks like on a horse: this is Jenn Scott's "Covergirl" model.

Now the question is: do you need this bit?

Junior Cowhorse Bit
Another of our customers asked us if we could make a bit sometimes called a "Junior Cowhorse Bit". It's actually a very mild "gag" type bit (the mouthpiece is supposed to slide a little) , that has become popular in some circles.

So, Gary went to work on the idea, and cobbled this up:


So, what do you think? Should we add it to the line of other western bits?

We do rely on customer feedback, and requests. Not that we don't come up with our own ideas, but a lot of the time, we can only guess what people might want, or need, and don't always get it right. Not every idea we have or suggestion we get can be made to work, but we do what we can.

At the present time, we are working on refining and finishing out the "Bijoux" items. But there's quite a few side projects in the works. It just takes time, and the development costs are steeper than we'd like.

Nevertheless, we've got all kinds of new things in the works, and over time we're hoping to get as many of them out there as we can.