Bridleless Riding and Training

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Bridleless Riding and Training

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    12-23-2009, 10:37 AM
Bridleless Riding and Training

I trianed my 7yo mare to be ridden bridleless when she was 5. I rode her occasionally without a bridle and when I rode with a bridle, I used a lot of leg. I sold her in february to a little girl who used no leg whatsoever. She had been ridden like this by the girl for a few months until the owners stopped showing up in October. I rode her in a few weeks ago because I have bought her back. She absolutely ignored my leg and seat. I could've leaned so far back that my head was on her rump and she still wouldn't have stopped. I've been riding her every day since then and she's gotten better, but still almost completely ignores my leg cues.

What are some good tips on bridleless training and riding? I like to ride without any tack on her so she can feel my leg and seat better, but its not working the way it used to. I've worked on her from the ground on moving away from pressure where my legs would be, and its helping. I was thinking about just getting on her without anything on her and try and refresh her memory.
Since I've been working with her again, I've gotten her to remember my seat, and I can stop her nicely. She'll turn slightly with my leg and seat but will ultimately decide where she wants to go; if she loses focus or doesn't wanna go to the rail etc.

Before, I could do dressage tests and jump courses bridleless easily. I even went out into her field once, hopped on, went through the gait and up to the barn and into the arena bridless, without getting a halter or anything.

My reasons for wanting to do this, are:
1. If she listens to my seat and leg well enough without needing the aid of a bridle, then when I ride with a bridle, she'll be a million times better
2. In case I drop the reins on accident
3. It has her listening and focusing on me better

Any help is greatly appreciated! ;)
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    12-24-2009, 12:31 AM
Get her responding to your leg in the saddle with the bridle on and refine it just like you did the first time. Ride her consistently and expect her to respond to your leg and soon she will. Untill she responds tacked up forget about riding her untacked. It's amazing how quickly someone can ruin a perfectly good horse.
    12-25-2009, 01:25 PM
I would highly recommend Stacy Westfalls training videos for this. She has a very common sense approach at teaching your horse from the ground up to riding bridleless. She's amazing and her methods are very easy to understand. She is starting to put free videos on YouTube now as well, she amazing! I use her methods alot.
    12-25-2009, 01:29 PM
I agree that Stacys videos are very good. They are different then a lot of videos on the market.

As for training bridleless. It is more of a progression of training and not something you TRAIN for. If you can not do it with a bridle you can not do it with out one either. Also if you can not drop your reins and get your horse to do it then again they will not do it bridleless.
    12-25-2009, 06:09 PM
^ I agree - I have never 'trained for' bridleless - But as a result of the fine-tuning we have been doing WITH a bridle, I am confident that I could get on sans bridle and ride any of the movments I do with a bridle.
    12-25-2009, 06:30 PM
Like all have said before me, I never trained to ride bridle-less. One day I just said to myself, "how often do I even USE these reins?" and took the bridle off. He didn't act any differently. Didn't matter if I rode bareback or with a saddle, on the trail, in the pasture or in an arena.

Of course, he did realize he could grab a quick bite of the tall grass outside of the arena and I couldn't quite check his face, I could only push him further into a walk, what a piggy! ;)

Good luck! I imagine since you've done it before, it won't take as long to get there this time. But you'll just have to refresh her memory. :)
    12-25-2009, 10:55 PM
Thanks everyone!! I rode her recently, and she's starting to remember everything. She's so much better! I had her doing figure eights and serpentines without the aid of the bridle (yet with the bridle still on). She can also neck rein, so before I ride her completely tackless, I'll use a neck rope for backup.

Merry Christmas BTW!!
    12-26-2009, 12:53 AM
Originally Posted by kevinshorses    
Get her responding to your leg in the saddle with the bridle on and refine it just like you did the first time. Ride her consistently and expect her to respond to your leg and soon she will. Untill she responds tacked up forget about riding her untacked. It's amazing how quickly someone can ruin a perfectly good horse.

I totally second this advice; she needs to be 'retrained' to respond to your legs and seat again...don't just think you can hop on her bareback\bridleless and have her respond, when she's already proven that she needs ALOT of refresher to get to that point. Take it slow, be consistent, and one day she may just 'click' again in her brain, and you will be able to do what you did before, but until you feel that light go on, you need to just keep going the way you are, and just work back up to where you were.
    12-26-2009, 01:31 PM
Good advice that everyone is giving you. To me it just sounds like your horse was allowed to have her way with the people you sold her to. They basically "Taught" her that she did not have to listen to them. She learned to like having it her way and now she is testing you to see if she can STILL have it her way. Continue working with her like you would any other horse, WITH the bridle. Regain the respect you once had. Don't let her get away with anything. She needs to listen to you. Eventually she will remember that you are the boss and from there things will naturally progress and you should be able to ride her bridle less again.

Best of luck to you,


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