"I'm riding bitless right now...Horsie stops just with the whoa when he is listening… I don't even have to touch the reins...or maybe he doesn't think he should listen…
So will Mia. Mia can also be ridden bitless, when she feels like it.
There was a Little Girl
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
However, an important part of riding is riding when the "Little Girl" is horrid. That is why bits were invented. Frankly, if I rode Mia bitless into the desert, all hell would probably break loose. She would assume she was responsible for our safety. If anything made her nervous, she would totally forget I was there. When she bolted while riding bitless - and we did a LOT of those - the best way to stop her was to softly call her name.
Leading a horse in a strange environment helps...but in my experience, only 50% carries over to in the saddle. And 50% control is not good enough. A horse in an arena can get its 'safety' from the comforting presence of the walls or rails. With an open horizon ahead, it is a wholly different game. A calm horse won't care. A calm horse will stay calm. Mia is not a calm horse. She will care!
If I run Mia in an arena, she thinks, "Why are we running in circles? Are you lost? Let's stop!
When I let her go outside an arena, she thinks, "I'm fast! I'm strong! I am INVINCIBLE!
" But she isn't, and the last time I rode her fast on a trail in a snaffle, I had to use this method of stopping to keep her from killing us both:
I am trying to work Mia back down to a snaffle because I think snaffles are very easy to work bending and turns, and she needs that work. The snaffle I'm using is about one step up from bitless: I'd move your horse into a bit.
From the pictures, he knows how to respond. My horses would not do well bitless in the open - not even our calmest horse (Trooper). That does not make them bad horses, just excitable ones.
It also does not mean that some horses don't ride well in the open bitless. It depends on their personality and training.