Thoughts on Riding Bitless

(Very horsey post.  Non-horsey readers are excused.  You may return to Candy Crush.)

I learned to ride in a riding school in rural Ireland back in the late sixties/early seventies.  I was taught :

to make the horse go, you kick him, if that doesn’t work you hit him with your whip, if that doesn’t work the instructor chases him with a lunge whip.

to turn right, you pull the right rein.

to turn left, you pull the left rein.

to stop, you pull both reins together.

It never, ever dawned on me that there might be another way.  Even when I saw the word ‘collection’ or the phrase ‘on the bit’ in the horsey books and magazines that I devoured, I dismissed these as irrelevant.  Things like ‘shoulder-in’ and ‘half-pass’ dwelled in the realms of the Spanish Riding School and other fantasy worlds, as far as I was concerned.

Fast forward to my early thirties.  I was a reasonably balanced rider who could jump a course of 90cm (approx 3 foot), negotiate a cross country course and (usually) stay on board for a day’s hunting.  Then I began to train for my British Horse Society’s Assistant Instructor’s Exam and I quickly realised that there was more to riding than the pull, kick and slap method I’d been taught (and that I’d been happily teaching).  I began to have dressage lessons.  Suddenly, I realised that I could make a horse work in an outline!  I finally knew what ‘on the bit’ meant!  Or so I thought…

I had some niggling doubts.  Surely schooling a horse on the flat shouldn’t mean that my arms and shoulders should be aching afterwards?  While training for my Stage Three exam, I was given an ex-eventer that had stiff, choppy gaits and had to have its head held rigidly in place for at least twenty minutes of warm-up.  My hands blistered through my gloves after riding that one and I knew this couldn’t be right.  What about stretching and relaxation?  The books I read spoke about ‘lightness’ yet most of the horses I rode felt anything but light.  I was horrified any time I saw a video of myself – I always seemed to be very much tipped forward, with my hands held low and fixed, to hold the horse’s head down, or niggling at the bit to get them to ‘soften’ and ‘relax.’  I struggled with lateral work, too.  Sure, I could ride a leg yield with an iffy outline until the cows came home, but anything more advanced ended up in a tight, frustrated mess.

My Pony Mum years commenced.  I learned a huge amount from watching my kids ride and have lessons.  I learned that it’s better to have four lessons a year with a top class instructor than one lesson a week with an instructor from the ‘slap and kick’ school of motoring.  I learned to doubt the ‘hold the head rigid’ approach I’d been taught for my exams.  I began to identify methods of riding and teaching that I felt would ultimately lead to a lighter, more balanced horse.

My Pony Mum years ended and Flurry arrived on the scene.  Flurry had been trained as a ‘slap and kick’ horse but I dreamed of a light, balanced, responsive horse.  Our early canters were anything but – think Wall of Death and you get the idea!  I worked with a couple of instructors that I really liked and things improved enormously, but I was carrying a lot of baggage. Too easily I would fall back into my old habits of hauling on the reins with grim determination to hold him in an outline.  I’d find myself wiggling my hands about as I asked him to soften and frequently crossing a hand over his withers as I tried to maintain inside bend.  I would end up with both hands practically in my belly button as I pulled back on the reins, trying to regulate his speed.  I KNEW all this was wrong, but I’d been doing it for so long I just couldn’t stop myself.  “Carry your hands” and “Lift your hands” were phrases I heard again and again throughout my lessons.

I inherited Aero, moved to France and started lessons with Alexandrine, who I suppose could be described as French Classical Dressage meets Natural Horsemanship.  I’m sure I drove her crazy with my ingrained habits, but my balance and seat slowly improved as I became fitter.  I still had the same old ‘hand’ issues, though.

I started messing about riding bitless and ended up riding in the rope halter.  I was blown away by how completely different it feels.  Even having rope reins instead of leather reins feels different.  Niggling at the reins has literally no effect – there is no bit and no mouth at the other end of the reins!  All of a sudden, there was nowhere to put all my baggage!

Because it all feels so different, it’s much easier to drop the old habits.  To ask my horse to lower his head, I raise my hands.  To ask him to work rounder, it’s a combination of raising my hands and a slight wiggle of the fingers which asks him to bring his nose in.  Because I’m no longer trying to pull or hold his head down, I’m sitting taller and straighter.   To turn, I have to use my leg and weight aids before I use my rein aids, otherwise the horse just drops the inside shoulder and cuts in rather than turns in.  Sure, there’s the odd moment when I forget, but I quickly realise my mistake, because nothing works  when I do it wrong!  

When I saw the video the LSH made last weekend, I was delighted with how I’m sitting and with how contented Aero looks.  Yes, there are some blips.  For example, at approx 1’10” , I asked him to start a circle – but I forgot to use my seat and legs before using my inside rein – back to my old ‘pull the right rein to turn right’ issue!  As soon as I felt him ducking through the inside shoulder I realised my mistake, and the rest of the circle improved.  Then there was the serpentine near the end… I am confessing here that I didn’t include the worst of that footage!  Changing diagonal on Mr Super-Bouncy Aero is still not easy for me!  Overall, the video really helped me to see what I need to work on – keeping my hands steady through transitions; not twisting and tilting when I ask for lateral work; remembering to let go from time to time…. sigh…

So, why am I trying to do dressage bitless?  Lots of reasons :

First of all, I wanted to see if I could!

It is finally helping me to lose the ‘pull the right rein to turn right, pull the left rein to turn left’ habit of a lifetime.

It’s helping me carry my hands and hold them more forward which in turn opens my collar bones and makes me sit straighter.

have to use my legs, seat and weight to ride turns and circles.  This has made both horses become lighter, more attentive and more responsive.

Most importantly, both horses absolutely love working in the halter.  I really feel that Flurry is now the same bitless as he is with a bridle.  I can walk/trot/canter circles and serpentines fairly accurately and with some class of an inside bend.  I can even ride a 10M circle in trot with him, although I’ll admit they’re sometimes a funny shape!  His outline is a little different with the halter – lower, but I’m going to keep him there for a while.  I have a suspicion his head will come up when he gets a bit stronger through the back.  Aero was more difficult to steer than Flurry initially, but once he realised that there weren’t going to be any signals coming through a bit, he started to pay more attention to what my body was doing.  He’s much happier and more relaxed bitless, so that there are no mouth-open-tension moments, no head-tossing and, strangely, no fighting the reins when I ask him to slow down or turn, even when we’re cantering flat out towards the arena gate!

Am I going to throw away my bridles?

No, I don’t think so.  First of all, I do plan to compete in the local dressage competitions, so I will have to use a bridle for that.  Secondly, I have approximately 45 years of conditioning to overcome before I would be certain of being able to control my horse with a halter, in an open space or a very exciting environment.  I’m just not brave enough to throw away my brakes.  Which leads me to a deep, soul-searching question :

Do I truly believe that the only way I would be able to control my horse in an emergency situation (like our Ride to Remember) is by being able to haul on his mouth i.e. by inflicting pain on him?

I am ashamed to admit that my answer is yes.

 

 

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32 thoughts on “Thoughts on Riding Bitless

  1. Good post. I’ve never used a bitless bridle or halter to ride with. Truth is I feel more comfortable with the traditional bridle and bit. We use very mild bits and I’ve actually re-trained myself to not haul on the reins or rely on the reins for balance etc. I’d say that I mostly use my seat and legs to steer with and it works for me. It’s hard to let go of the bad habits we were taught when we were younger but it’s possible. I think you’re doing a great job with Aero and Flurry and I give you a lot of credit for trying the bitless bridle way of riding. I say whatever works for you is the way to go.

    Excuse me, I have to get back to Candy Crush now and then on to Big Fish Casino!

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    • I’ve always said you never stop learning with horses. This bitless lark is helping me learn a lot about riding effectively off the seat and legs and also about trust. On a very windy day last week, I hesitated about riding Aero bitless. Would he be spooky and silly? He was full off beans – lots of excited snorting as we started off but his behaviour was IMPECCABLE, 100% focussed on me throughout. I’m not sure it would have been so good with a bit!

      Must check out Big Fish Casino!!

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  2. Coming in a bit late to this debate …! … ditto to so many of the comments about being afraid to ditch the “brakes” cross country. I’ve now managed to get Pom so blasé about the school he can happily go bitless (though wish it looked as good as you and Aero!), but he’s still auditioning for the Triple Crown every chance when we’re out and about so it took a long time to downgrade from his Kimblewick-like Goyo bit to a full-cheek snaffle; he more or less ignores the bit but I have to have the one-rein stop up my sleeve for last-ditch security.
    As I wanted to get the feel of a borrowed double bridle, without imposing it on the pony, I used a padded halter with reins and his usual snaffle bridle. Cat’s cradle with the reins to begin with, but in the end he was more responsive to pressure on the halter than the bit! So we’re in transition! But the headgear I choose for him is still very dependent on his mood pre-hack or school. And as I’m unlikely to be entering any dressage competitions, the double bridle is going back to the lender. One pair of reins is enough 🙂 PS have you ever seen Cléménce Faivre and Gotan and their bridleless act? Just saw her at a local show – wonderful !

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    • Pom sounds a lot like evilauthor’s Oz! You guys should get together and form a support group 😉
      Interesting idea about getting the feel for a double bridle. Riding in a double bridle was something I had to do for the Stage III exam. I never felt entirely comfortable with it, I think I just didn’t have the finesse required. Maybe I should try with the halter and a bridle…. but I’d have to fit leather reins as rope reins are too much of a handful on their own…
      On second thoughts, I’ll stick with what I’m doing until I get a bit better at it!

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  3. Lol, I would never cope with a horse like Oz, never mind if he was bitted up to the hilt or not!! He’s all about getting there; my guys are all about enjoying the journey!
    It’s a shame you can’t find an instructor who can help you. I can see that ‘normal’ dressage wouldn’t be any good for you & Oz, maybe someone on the classical side could help? Sylvia Lock has a Facebook page where she interacts quite a bit with her readers. Maybe you could put a ‘can anyone advise me’ plea on there?
    Thanks for nice comment about the video, although I’m surprised no-one has mentioned the GodDamned Fucking Bee that was bothering the LSH at one stage. Hopefully in a couple of months I’ll be posting a better one 🙂

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  4. Great video!
    Can I just say “Me too”? 🙂
    From the Hay-Net posts of mine, you probably know I own an opinionated, flighty Paso, and I’ve been struggling with *his* bit choice. (Not mine.) Tried riding him in a head collar. Oh.My.God. Mr “I must run at all costs” takes no notice of it (or me) I used his Jaquima (leather bosal) and that ended in a wreck. Tried snaffles, tried kimblewicks, you name it, I’ve tried it. He throws his head around, shakes the bit and chews with his mouth wide open, clearly telling me “I don’t like it!!!”. This is on the ground, not in the saddle. He hated every single bit I tried, except his Paso spoon bit.
    I’m sure a better rider than me (hello kick and pull school of riding) could get him to do stuff I wouldn’t dream of doing. He has never been properly trained, which makes it harder for me to know if I’m doing it right. I’d love to go bitless, and I frequently use an English hackamore with him, but when he gets a bee in his bonnet, he starts to ignore it and pulls like a freight train to get his way. (Which is probably me, doing it wrong.)
    I don’t want to use the reins to do anything, but feel there’s no choice with him — and I feel awful about it.
    Training would be good, but alas, it’s bloody tricky to find anyone in the UK who understands a gaited horse, and can work with his gaits — rather than insisting I trot and canter.
    I had a lesson with a Dressage trainer. Yeah. Let’s not go there. I don’t need comments like “What a weird little horse.”, but it kinda warmed my heart that he gave her soooo much trouble, she looked as incompetent as I felt lol. I bet she was glad to see the back of us. 🙂
    I’m afraid it was a case of:
    Her: “Put your leg on.”
    Me: “Uh, no. I don’t want to go to Kent in under 3 seconds.”
    Her: “You need your leg on for the leg aids.”
    Me: (Puts legs on, resulting in a severely pissed off Paso who runs in a sharp trot to get away from that leg pressure, I take the leg off, and can practically feel the sigh of relief) “See?”
    Her: “Weird horse.”
    She tried to ride him. You have never seen so much tail swishing and his ears practically merged with his poll, they were so far back with annoyance. “Weird horse” indeed. I ride without constant pressure. Don’t need it, he’s sharp as hell. But alas, that enthusiasm translates to an extremely forward horse who needs to be “reined in” all the time.
    (I can’t ride “on the buckle” or we really will be in Kent in 3 seconds flat) I’m happy just to get a nice walk out of him — and it has taken 2 years to get him to just *walk* (he had no concept such a gait exists)
    Baby steps. 🙂

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  5. My introduction to riding was much the same as yours, but I was introduced to Mary Wanless and Sally Swift (through books) in the 80’s and read my way into more knowledge. I loved the idea of controlling through seat and legs, and got great results from more sensitive horses though I didn’t try bitless then. Nowadays I don’t ride much as you know but I love short pottering sessions in the field bareback and bitless and playing with weight aids. Niggles I have had in the past melt away when riding bitless, making me realise that while I have attempted to ride more from the seat and legs there must still be quite a heavy influence from the hand. It’s a great way to find out what one is doing wrong! But I will ALWAYS hack out with a bit I’m afraid – riding a horse who must weigh nearly a ton requires effective brakes!

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    • “while I have attempted to ride more from the seat and legs there must still be quite a heavy influence from the hand.” Yes! It’s gratifying to hear that you have had issues here as well despite having found Mary Wanless and Sally Swift about 30 years before me!
      It’s like a knee jerk reaction from my hands at times. If a hand can be said to have a knee jerk reaction, of course.

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  6. We hack out bitless all the time. Never used to get comments in France, but we sure do here…..usually along the lines of “have you got any brakes?” (yes)
    BTW, If you want to try some bitless dressage, check out http://www.interdressage.com and do the Baroque classes, I did last month’s in a rope headcollar and got 77%!

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    • I remember reading your tale of bits re Gandalf and it astounds me how well he goes in the bitless for you. I certainly can’t argue that he’s been conditioned to bitless all his life, unlike Sky…
      Still, I’m just not brave enough. I guess it’s the control freak in me.

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    • I remember a hack in France when my friend’s mare took exception to a terrifying small hairy white pony and took off. So did the other horses on the ride and they didn’t stop for over a km. The mare who started it all had a Myler long shank combination bit and was not for stopping despite my friend hauling on the reins for all she was worth. The mare even fell into the ditch at one point and got up and carried on running. So I guess if they really want to go, no bit and no amount of pulling will stop them. I was on Chester, BTW, (bitless) and he pulled up after a few strides…….

      You definitely need to have a go at the Baroque Interdressage classes, you may recognise the judge’s name, she gives excellent feedback 🙂

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  7. Dancing, ( I hesitate to call you Donkey!!!!) have you considered giving Tessa that pacifier AND still ride in a bitless bridle???
    A good friend of mine, Stef, trained her KWPN mare, Marquee, all the way to Grand Prix. Marquee, from her long yearling days to a now 22 ‘dowager’ has always been high strung, highly talented mare. She was constantly grinding her teeth when being worked. Finally Stef hit on the pacifier idea and put a bit (not sure which) in her mouth, one with a cricket. Marquee would work that cricket to death…you’d hear it, gritch gritch gritch, but as long as she had SOMETHING to mess with, Marquee was then able to focus on her job. Your analogy to a pacifier is right on the money.

    I wonder if you were to give Tessa a bit to play with, with no reins attached. Still ride her in a bitless bridle with a bit and no contact with it.

    I never rode/ride a horse without a bit to show off. I’ve said it before-whenever I’ve shown my ass, karma has never failed to kick it for me. SO now I don’t show off. I ride a horse bitless when HE seems to need it.

    Magreenlee, I agree with you. My first leased horse, Trooper, was in a sidepull and he ignored it completely. Putting him in a bit made no difference whatsoever. He was going to avoid the bit/sidepull no matter how politely one asked for contact, and I never, ever could get him to ‘collect’.
    Fortunately, he and I communicated via seat and legs, but still……….he was an Arab. I love the breed, but I feel they aren’t really Arabian unless they have one spook a day. I rode out every one of his spooks but still, there were those few moments when one wonders, okay, how long will I fly before I land???

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    • A coupe of people here have suggested I trail ride with both bit and halter. I don’t see the point. Really and truly, I ride off the buckle end of the reins 99.9% of the time I’m out on the trail. the other 0.1% of the time I’m probably trying to stop my horse from going up the ass of the confirmed kicker that’s out in front of me (MC and I usually head and tail rides when we’re out in a group because Quieto and Flurry are great safety horses to have at the front and the back, but this usually means I’m behind the green horse in the group)
      Interesting that you feel the same as me about the sidepull… a lot of people seem to really like them.

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    • Actually, I have tried using both, a “pacifier” and a halter. I really think the bit is more comfortable for her. She has a very long, fine-boned face and she hates pressure on it, no matter how light. Even a flat, padded halter just makes her grind her teeth and toss her head. Give her the bit back and she’s happy. I’ve had her teeth checked and everything else you can think of, she is fine. She just likes it better and is very clear about it.

      As for it being a matter of conditioning, she was started in a halter and moved to a bit because she hated the halter. However, Tessa is a bit unique. I agree that for MOST horses, it probably is a matter of conditioning. I am sure I could condition Tessa to go in a halter, she will do it, grudgingly. She has has communicated her wishes quite clearly and making her go in a halter because I think she would be happier isn’t what I want to do.

      My one gripe about the NH movement is just that, it is a “movement”, a “thing” right now. There are a lot of people who believe in NH, but don’t really understand horses. They get too caught up in having just the right rope halter and going bitless and forget to listen to the horse. That is true of every training method though. They all have their disciples and converts to the cause. We are all guilty of it at one point or another:)

      I’m not a real fan of sidepulls either. too many of them keep pressure on the horses nose even when no one is touching it. The horse never get a real release and all he learns is to ignore it. i had the same trouble with the Dr. Cooks, the release is way to slow. I know there are some horses who go well in them, but I haven’t found them.

      Interesting conversation here, thanks for all the input:)

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  8. I’ve been back and forth on this subject and the only conclusion I’ve ever reached is that it depends on what the horse likes and responds to best. I’ve tried riding Tessa in a variety of snaffles and bitless. I’ve used, halters hackamores, Dr. Cook’s (super overrated on every horse I’ve ever had it on) and in the end, we always come back to a French link, shanked bit. I wanted to get away from it, but she likes it. She hates all the bitless options i have tried. She grinds her teeth when nervous even when she is completely naked out in the field. Under saddle, she plays with the bit shank when nervous instead. Taking it away from her is like taking a pacifier away from a baby. I used to fight with her about it, now I just try to identify why she is doing it and attempt to address the issue. It has been far more successful and she rarely feels the need to grind her teeth or chew the shank anymore. She really tries hard to communicate, I just don’t always hear what she is saying.

    I ride her mostly off my legs and seat and could probably ride bridleless, but I would never do it out in the open. Horses are big, powerful flight animals. Even if you barely use it most of the time, there has to be a way to control them when needed. It is one thing to ride around bridleless in an empty arena, but downright irresponsible in most situations. I have seen a couple of really awful wrecks caused by people showing off with their bridleless horses.

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    • It seems like a lot of us have been back and forth on this!
      It’s interesting watching Alexandrine working with young horses. Quite a few of them are broken just to the halter – the owners are very much into NH and want to ride bitless, and they don’t want to compete in jumping or dressage competitions for which they would need a bit. With these horses, I come back to the conditioning notion. If a horse has been conditioned all its life to respond a certain way to a tug on the halter, then why should be any different to a horse that’s been conditioned to respond a certain way to a tug on the bit?
      I don’t have the answers, just the questions!!
      As for showing off, I’ve always said that horses being you down to earth very quickly if you start to get above yourself. They’re great that way.

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  9. Excellent post, really enjoyed reading it. Sadly there’s still riding schools out there teaching the basics incorrectly. We witnessed it recently when a riding school took their kids out for their lesson in the woods while I was walking the dog: “now, we’re going to turn around so pull your left rein to turn the ponies”. It was obviously their usual spot for turning because most turned before a single rein was pulled!! My daughter was taught along these lines too (four out of five schools she attended), and then, when she shared a pony, the owner, a competitive dressage rider and teacher, started to show her the correct way to ride. I think we’re always learning, from our horses, teachers and from watching videos of ourselves – we strive to improve and to ensure our horses enjoy the ride as much as we do.

    Going bitless has been something we’ve been wanted to try for so long – so far we haven’t the nerve to try … we’ll get there! Katie (my daughter, who is the rider) is currently using elastic rein inserts – the first step, in my opinion, to going bitless as it helps to lift any unwanted pressure on the mouth. So far, excellent results and a horse that’s far more in control.

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    • I totally agree that we’re always learning! Every ride has something to teach us, or at the very least, every ride will remind us of something we should remember.
      For me, going bitless was a huge leap of faith. That’s why I tried it on Flurry first – even though he can be naughty, he’s easier to ride than Aero and I figured that if he tanked off with me in the arena, I’d manage to stay on board. I was disappointed with the ‘sidepull’ configuration of the Micklem bridle though. It seemed that both horses tuned it out after 2 or three rides and I didn’t want to progress to the next level, which is similar to a Dr Cook.
      Really and truly, the rope halter was a revelation to me. If you can find an NH instructor near you, I’d advise taking Katie for a few lessons. It took a while for the horses to understand what I wanted when I lifted my hands and it was great to have Alexandrine there to advise me.
      The elastic rein inserts sound interesting… I wonder could you use them in a dressage test…

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    • The whole issue fascinates me, to be honest. It’s just a matter of conditioning, isn’t it? I’m conditioned to believe that, in a runaway situation, I need strength and a bit in my horse’s mouth. The horses are conditioned to to understand that the pain in their mouth will stop when they stop. I wish it was different but, for me, this is the way it is. I envy MC’s confidence that Quieto will stop the same in a halter as he would in a bridle.
      PS. I do agree that in a true bolting situation, nothing will work. That’s when you get down to hauling on one rein to try pull the horse around in a circle. Not nice either, especially when you end up fighting your self-made centrifugal force in order to stay on board.

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  10. Interesting read since we ride our OTTB’s all bitless (Dr. Cook’s). I honestly haven’t gone back to the bitted bridle with Harley in a long time, since he grinds his teeth when he’s anxious. I think he goes better bitless, although I will admit to having no breaks when he decides to be naughty! I’ve notice just squeezing the reins is enough for a response when asking him to turn and stop (except when he’s being silly, of course). But I haven’t done much ring work with the bitless bridle. I’ll have to give it a whirl and see how things go!

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    • Does he ever grind his teeth when he’s bitless? Just wondering.
      I’ve read about a few of your ‘no brakes’ incidents – no thanks!! I’ll keep my nasty bit in for trekking, thank you.
      I observed an interesting thing with Aero today. He’s always rubbed his face off his leg quite hard after a ride. I took this to be that the bit had been bugging him, but today he rubbed his face for a few minutes after our ride. He was wearing a light, loose rope halter – surely there was nothing there that could have been bothering him?
      Teehee – maybe soon I’ll be writing about my bitless and halter-less escapades…

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  11. Your Candy Crush comment made me smile. Everyone and their mother is playing that game, except me. No loss there. Great thoughts! I can see the happiness in your video ride. IMHO there is no shame in doing whatever reasonable thing you have to do to stay safe.

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    • Lol, the Candy Crush comment was directed at a particular non-horsey friend but I figured it would be appropriate with a few others, too 😀
      Thanks for the validation. I have always said that human’s safety comes first. If that means a bit, so be it.

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  12. I have always been one of ‘those’ people who thinks that no bit is better than any bit. Every horse I’ve ever ridden in a bitless bridle-be it a hackamore or like you, a rope halter-seems to truly appreciate it. Taking ME out of the equation, meaning me hanging onto the reins for dear life-has turned me into a far better rider.
    They DO appreciate it. Of course, being horses, some will take advantage of the fact that you might not be the rider without a bit that you are with one. In that case, it doesn’t hurt to put a bit back in his mouth to remind him that this is a team, pal.
    WIth most horses, as you realize, being in a wide open environment (i.e. on a trail ride) is a far different enviroment than that found in the arena, and I would certainly have a bit in his mouth then…although with my grey Arab, Jordan, I didn’t need it. Each horse is different. Honestly, when I ride outside the arena, i.e. trail riding, I’m not so much concerned about the bit as I am about the saddle. I ride in a western saddle in those situations, (although I prefer bareback, and if I have to ride in a saddle, prefer my dressage saddle). I ride in that western saddle solely because it has a nice horn to hold onto when the horse gets into a “wahooooo!” frame of mind.
    Congratulations on your epiphany.

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    • Hmm I didn’t realise it was an epiphany when I was having it, but yes. It was. I’m glad at least one person agrees with me on the question of using a bit when out in the open. Alexandrine and her mum MC both trail ride in their rope halters. MC tells me it’s just the same for stopping, but she is great, she doesn’t pressure me to change.
      I’ve never ridden in a Western saddle. Their sheer weight puts me off. I don’t think I could lift one up onto a horse’s back!

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  13. What a great post! I feel that Shy enjoys being ridden in her halter and lead, she seems much more relaxed, but just like you, I have no brakes. It’s fun in an enclosed area (I even did it in a field once, but she got too quick and wasn’t listening so I hopped off(bareback, too so it was easy)) but I am far from confident and Shy can be to spooky to do it otherwise. Eventually!
    Good work with your horses, I love reading about your progress, reflections, and thoughts with them 🙂

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    • Lol, I don’t know that I have no brakes out in the open with no bit. I just don’t believe that I will have any!! And I don’t want to prove it to myself, either!

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