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Training to ride without a bridle

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    04-03-2011, 08:58 AM
  #11
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedTree    
good training.
For a halt ask with seat first, so seat deep in the saddle and slow your movement with your horse, say whoa and then pull back on reins, don't yank, your hands should move like 5cm.
Bridle less would take time, do groundwork with your horse, teach it to move away from pressure and then relate that back to when your riding.
It will take time
^This. Real bridleless riding is simply a by-product of good "regular" training. IMVHO, setting out to the arena with the specific goal of teaching the horse to ride without a bridle is training for the result - there will be gaps in training and it will be a lot more work to do that than to simply build a solid "normal" training program on top of a firm foundation.

Start with seeing how little it takes to stop your horse from a walk. Use the progression RedTree outlined - sit deep and exhale, close your legs around the horse, and close your hands. Really think of it as closing your hands, not pulling the reins; pulling is going to distress the horse to some measure, and the horse will resist. When the horse is really really light halting from the walk, and you almost never have to go to the reins to complete the stop, move on to the trot, then canter, etc.

For turning, be sure that you are correctly supporting your horse through the turn with your seat, core, and legs - not just pulling the left rein to go left. Ultimately, the reins should not be there for control, but for refinement. Stephnello is right on the money about the safety aspect of it - don't go straight from riding with a bridle without needing to go to the reins for every transition to dropping the bridle all at once. When you and your horse are ready, start out by just knotting the reins so they stay handy on the horse's neck and see if you still have that control without touching them. They're still there if you discover that you aren't "there" yet. ;)

All of this is part of training any horse who is expected to be light and responsive to the aids, and is doubly important if your ultimate plan is to go bridleless. Just transitioning to a bitless setup probably won't do much for you - it isn't about the gear (or lack of it), it's about the rider.
     
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    04-03-2011, 03:20 PM
  #12
Foal
Your reply reminds me of some remarks I heard about how I ride my horse. People were used to seeing us in a halter (rope halter) and wondered whether Nello was hard to ride with a bit (they thought I had chosen the halter because he was terrible with a bit). So I took him with his former bit (which is quite mild, it could be milder if it was not made of metal but that's it) and we had a typical half an hour of "work" in the arena to show them that. And they said "of course your horse won't resist the bit or pull the reins, you never have them tense or short!" as if it were a flaw. I answered "yes but what's the point in shortening them if he moves as well without them?" I mean, I always start with very long reins, and then as we are "entering" a state favorable to work (both physically and mentally) he offers me the possibility to shorten the reins gradually according to what he feels comfortable and efficient, I accept, but I do not take, I accept what he gives to me. And as I don't want him to need my hands to be balanced (you know, some horses lean on the hand and when there is a flax in the hand, or no more hand, piouf they fall on their shoulders), my reins are, so to say, never tense (I don't know if tense is the right word, hope you understand!), sorry but his mouth is sensitive enough to feel that my fingers are moving on fluid reins! And so riding with a bit or a halter, for us, does not change much since even with a bit I only use it if all the other ways didn't work, that is to say very very rarely. For me the bitless thing was above all for his own comfort, as I never found a bit he really took with pleasure. And it is also a way to force me to be focused and improve my riding... Since I need to get understood quickly and fully!
     
    04-03-2011, 04:49 PM
  #13
Foal
I went riding Red again today, and she was doing a lot better with stopping, as well as I was doing better at stopping her. The first time I stopped her, she did it mostly by my voice and my seat, but then the other times I tried stopping her I had to use a little rein. She even stopped easily for me when she was about to go into a trot when I didn't want her to ( which is usually a difficult task for her, especially considering I had to use her old and very mild bit today since the stronger one was out of order ). But at least I only had to pull like an inch. She is getting much better compared to when I first started riding her ( she was untrained when I first started riding )
When riding her at the very beginning, she would hardly stop, and she would always go the direction she wanted to go, and she would go faster than she was supposed to.
But now after I've been riding her for about 6 months, she now only goes into trot when I ask her to, and if she ever tries to trot without my asking, bringing her back to a walk is much easier. And she switches nicely between a canter and a walk. Also she is responding better to my leg movement and occasionally will turn the right way without me needing to pull on the rein at all. Sometimes her stopping will be a little elaborated, but I havn't seen much of that lately.
Pretty much my only difficulty with her now is that sometimes she will get stubborn and want to walk back toward the direction of the barn and she move difficulty. She has a habit of slowing down whenever we go next to the gait. But I've been improving that.
And today, she bucked a little ( which was the first time she ever did that ) but I think it was because we accidentally had the bit facing the wrong way. So that's when we switched bits and then she rode a little better. But she still wanted to move toward the barn and it's difficult to get her back on track. But then she was riding really nicely at the end and responded well to my legs and I used less rein.
I was also very relaxed at that moment and so was my breathing and I think that helped.
     
    04-04-2011, 07:49 AM
  #14
Foal
My horse sometimes does that, trying to go to the gate and walk out of the arena (but he only wants to go out for a walk, not to go back to his barn). When he tries that I push him to trot and we work kind of harder away from the gate, until he does not look towards it at all, and then when he is focused we have a break. I never get out of the arena if he has tried to "pull" me or take me there without my asking for it. And I always try to be comfortable and pleasant in the arena, offering breaks at the back of it, near the frightening things, and working near the gate and in the not-frightening places, to help him enjoy the moments he spends away from the gate.
     
    04-04-2011, 08:05 AM
  #15
Showing
When I was at the demo by Stacy Westfall (who is a great trainer competing reining bridless) she said she put 1000+ hours on horse WITH the bridle before she switched to bridless. And on top of it she said that she never ride bridless outside the arena. So may be teach your horse to be responsive to the most subtle cue from your legs and seat first and then look into riding bridless. And you may look into lessons to advance with the 1st step as it's not all that easy (unless you are very experienced rider).
     
    04-04-2011, 08:24 AM
  #16
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoutrider    
^This. Real bridleless riding is simply a by-product of good "regular" training. IMVHO, setting out to the arena with the specific goal of teaching the horse to ride without a bridle is training for the result - there will be gaps in training and it will be a lot more work to do that than to simply build a solid "normal" training program on top of a firm foundation.

Start with seeing how little it takes to stop your horse from a walk. Use the progression RedTree outlined - sit deep and exhale, close your legs around the horse, and close your hands. Really think of it as closing your hands, not pulling the reins; pulling is going to distress the horse to some measure, and the horse will resist. When the horse is really really light halting from the walk, and you almost never have to go to the reins to complete the stop, move on to the trot, then canter, etc.

For turning, be sure that you are correctly supporting your horse through the turn with your seat, core, and legs - not just pulling the left rein to go left. Ultimately, the reins should not be there for control, but for refinement. Stephnello is right on the money about the safety aspect of it - don't go straight from riding with a bridle without needing to go to the reins for every transition to dropping the bridle all at once. When you and your horse are ready, start out by just knotting the reins so they stay handy on the horse's neck and see if you still have that control without touching them. They're still there if you discover that you aren't "there" yet. ;)

All of this is part of training any horse who is expected to be light and responsive to the aids, and is doubly important if your ultimate plan is to go bridleless. Just transitioning to a bitless setup probably won't do much for you - it isn't about the gear (or lack of it), it's about the rider.
Love how you wrote it I can never think of the right words
     
    04-04-2011, 08:25 AM
  #17
Trained
I am currently working on not using my reins at all, which is the same as bridleless. I ride in just a halter and lead, and lay down the reins. They are there if I HAVE to have them, but that is it. Everyone is right. It takes HOURS of riding to teach, and starts with good training with a bit. In the beginning,it takes real concentration to make sure you are consistent, and starting with the lightest cue you ultimately want your horse to respond to. For example, when I want to turn right, I just use the slightest pressure from my right heel, TURN AND LOOK (which is key!) where you want to go. If the horse doesn't repond, increase the pressure gradually-tapping with your right heel, then eventually if needed pick up the rein and use it to turn. Use the same progression every single time. It takes lots of time in the arena all alone practicing. You have to be very tuned in to your horse and them to you, so yes, lots of NH type groundwork helps.

To stop-exhale and sit deep. Only use the reins if you have to.

I am only using these techniques to make my guy super soft and responsive. I will go back to a bit when I am working on more engagement for sure.
     
    05-23-2011, 01:10 PM
  #18
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scoutrider    
^This. Real bridleless riding is simply a by-product of good "regular" training. IMVHO, setting out to the arena with the specific goal of teaching the horse to ride without a bridle is training for the result - there will be gaps in training and it will be a lot more work to do that than to simply build a solid "normal" training program on top of a firm foundation.

Start with seeing how little it takes to stop your horse from a walk. Use the progression RedTree outlined - sit deep and exhale, close your legs around the horse, and close your hands. Really think of it as closing your hands, not pulling the reins; pulling is going to distress the horse to some measure, and the horse will resist. When the horse is really really light halting from the walk, and you almost never have to go to the reins to complete the stop, move on to the trot, then canter, etc.

For turning, be sure that you are correctly supporting your horse through the turn with your seat, core, and legs - not just pulling the left rein to go left. Ultimately, the reins should not be there for control, but for refinement. Stephnello is right on the money about the safety aspect of it - don't go straight from riding with a bridle without needing to go to the reins for every transition to dropping the bridle all at once. When you and your horse are ready, start out by just knotting the reins so they stay handy on the horse's neck and see if you still have that control without touching them. They're still there if you discover that you aren't "there" yet. ;)

All of this is part of training any horse who is expected to be light and responsive to the aids, and is doubly important if your ultimate plan is to go bridleless. Just transitioning to a bitless setup probably won't do much for you - it isn't about the gear (or lack of it), it's about the rider.

What do you mean by "closing your hands"?
     
    05-23-2011, 06:49 PM
  #19
Foal
Hi!

I show bridleless and the key to teaching a horse to ride without a bridle is making them spur stop. When you go to half halt or lower your horses head down first squeeze your legs them half halt. Then your horse will figure that when you squeeze your legs soon after you will half halt and they will do it. It takes pure dedication but I have taught all my horses to ride bridless within one week. Let me know if you want more info on riding/training a horse bridleless! I would be happy to help!
     
    05-23-2011, 08:16 PM
  #20
Trained
^ A spur stop is a subject of great debate, and most will say DO NOT DO IT!!!

My horse I just sold would ride bridless. We could do a working pattern out in a paddock - So gallop, haunch turns, rollbacks, lead changes, stops. All just because of good training - I only ever took the bridle off when I wanted to do something, I never actually 'trained' without the bridle. And NO spur stop - Just seat, weight, and voice.
     

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