Baby Hold Together – Molli Montgomery’s Old Fort Days Winning Headgear

Old Fort Days Futurity Champion Molli Montgomery is big on sticking with what works, even it means holding onto her borrowed Loomis forever.
Molli Montgomery
Old Fort Days Futurity Champions Molli Montgomery and TRHeavenIlluminated.

Veteran futurity trainer Molli Montgomery of Purdon, Texas, rode TRHeavensIlluminated (“Cyrus”) to victory at the 2022 Old Fort Days Futurity with a chain-mouth Loomis with a rolled leather noseband tiedown.

[Read: 45th Annual Old Fort Days: A Little Fame in Fort Smith]

She’s had the bridle in her possession for six years, but it doesn’t belong to her. Jennifer Burgess, daughter of 1981 Women’s Professional Rodeo Association World Champion and clinician Lynn McKenzie loaned Montgomery the Loomis for her 2016 futurity standout Feelin The Firewater, a JL Dash Ta Heaven daughter that belongs to Kim Matthews.

Since she has won three futurities on the JL Dash Ta Heaven gelding this year using the bridle, it’s not likely that Burgess is getting it back anytime soon, if ever.

Molli Montgomery’s recipe for Fort Smith magic hinged in no small part on this borrowed Loomis gag. Photograph Courtesy Molli Montgomery

“She’s asked for it back a couple of times and I told her that I was sorry, but she’s never getting it back!” laughed Montgomery. “We laugh about it as a joke between us. I probably need to try to reincarnate it, but for some reason with the Dash Ta Heavens that bridle compliments my hands with how their faces are. They’re so soft.”

Montgomery said the Loomis when paired with a tiedown allows her to help her horses without getting in their way.

“I can direct the rocket better,” she said. “To me, the Loomis is a dull pull. It’s not a lot on their face and they can withstand it. I can drag on them without it being too much for them to handle.”

With the draw on pigging string rope, the release of pressure is fairly instant.

“When you release, it’s all gone,” Montgomery said. “I want it to be instant. I want to be right there when I need it, but I don’t want it to grab them so hard that they don’t have any relief from it.”

Montgomery has made some modifications to headgear. She added electrical tape to the rope a few inches above the bit to stop it from continually sliding upward when she pulls. Montgomery has also attached a parachute cord throat latch with electrical tape to keep the pliant rope from swinging toward Cyrus’ eyes.

TRHeavensIlluminated (“Cyrus”) runs in this Loomis gag that Montgomery has modified with parachute cord and electrical tape for optimal functionality. Photograph Courtesy Molli Montgomery

At home, she’ll ride Cyrus with a Kathy James gag with a variety of mouthpieces to keep him soft, but the gelding knows when the Loomis comes out, it’s time for business.

“That horse wants to play any other time,” said Montgomery. “When I put that bridle on him, there’s no more play. He’s all business. He knows it’s time.”

Montgomery also has one hard and fast rule about her headgear—bridle, tiedown and reins—Do. Not. Change. Anything. After all, leather stretches, nylon stiffens and undoubtedly nothing gets adjusted back to exactly as it was.

“I am crazy about that kind of stuff,” she said. “I’m not superstitious. I’m just very anal about it. Once you win like that, you don’t want to change it. You almost can’t get me to change bridles once I’ve won like that. I just believe that not much has changed since then and if it worked then, it’s going to work now.”

This chain mouth Loomis and tiedown helped Montgomery and Cyrus bank $43,460 for owner Tracy Lambert at the 2022 Old Fort Days Hart Farms Futurity. Photograph Courtesy Molli Montgomery

Watching people make equipment changes at the last minute is way beyond her comfort zone.

“I see people adjusting their reins before they go in and I have an anxiety attack just seeing them do it!”  she laughed. “How do you know that’s where it was the last time!”

When some of her friends made last-minute bridle changes at Fort Smith, she was ready to have a panic attack for them.

“I would die,” she laughed. “I do not trust myself to do that!”

The only problem with changing absolutely nothing is things tend to get worn out fast. Like Cyrus’ tiedown. The original integrity of the old leather is getting a tad suspect.

“I probably need to fix it because it’s that old thin leather,” she said. “It looks shady. I probably need to put a backup on in case it breaks. I changed the tiedown once to a little bit better one, and it must have been a little bit different length. My owner, Tracy Lambert, was like, ‘What did you do different?’ That just proved it to me. Never again will I change anything on him. She was like, ‘Put that old tiedown back on him!’”

Montgomery’s trusty old tiedown is a piece of equipment she says is integral to success for Cyrus. Photograph Courtesy Molli Montgomery

She’s also stuck wearing a lot of purple because she can’t change her tiedown strap.

“I have to coordinate everything around that stupid tiedown strap, and I’m too scared to change it to a black one,” she laughed. “When it gets sweaty the other one might not stretch the same or something. I’m that anal about it!”

She’s picky about her curb chains too when she uses them.

“I despise new curb chains,” she said. “Travis Grimsley saves old curb chains for me. They aren’t broken in and they don’t lay right. I have to have my husband weld the curb chain back together on my Kathy James. I hope it lasts me the rest of my life. It’s worn so thin, but it lays just right.”