He still stops, still stops dead from a canter/hand gallop. I just want to improve the technique, so I have gone back to the bridle for a while. It's the same as teaching a horse to neck rein... You don't just accept neckreining that isn't exactly what you want, so you may go back to direct reining to help.
Well said. I ride bitless but occasionally I've needed some fine tuning and will go back into the bit for a few sessions.
I did it today on my pony in the round pen. I had never ridden in the round pen with her, only lunged her, so we used a bit to begin with and then I just took the reins off and use them as a rope around her neck :) It was a great success, and wasn't really as hard as I thought. It took her like 10 minutes to understand and then when she got it she was so good, and she's a pretty green horse in a lot of aspects. I was so proud. We did walk trot with walk-halt, walk-trot, trot-halt (not perfect at this one yet), halt-walk, halt-trot transitions and such. We also did quite a bit of figure eights and lots of changes of direction. She was a dreamboat. With canter I just let her stay on the rail, the footing isn't to great and she isn't quite ready for that.
Not saying that either of us are ready to work outside the roundpen yet, but it was not as difficult as I had imagined. Just my personal experience.
But I use a lot of leg cues with the bridle anyway and this pony is super sensitive to your cues, so... -shrug- might be different for some folks.
So you admit it isn't /that/ easy, it takes time, it's nothing your horse can just do in one day. That's all I'm saying.
Was this for me or Wild Spot?
My horse did the basics in one day. But I had spent two solid years of groundwork, then a few months of actual riding training before I rode bridle less. Because he knew my voice, leg, butt commands, he listened and had no problems. When I broke him to ride I broke him in a halter. So he was already responding to bit less when I went bridle less.
I've never done anything fancier than go through the gaits and turn though. Nothing like the stuff that Stacy Westfall does. That probably takes a lot more time to get the horse to do those moves.
But if you've already got a good foundation on the horse, most of them it doesn't really matter if they've got a bridle on their head or a bit in their mouth.
Just like a car, sometimes they need a tune up. It can be really easy depending on the horse or it can take quite a bit of time. Again, just depends on the horse and how much training you've already done.
Ok, I have to correct my earlier posts, I have a slightly different idea of what riding bridleless is, such as what Stacey Westfall or Foxfield drill team is. Have I w/t/c bareback without a bridle, yes, did I train her to do it, I suppose, but I have seen horses who can be ridden without a bridle. I can easily follow the rail and canter around without a bridle, but can I manuever, no, so I thought that was the deffinition of bridleless riding. I was bored a few summers ago so I started just messing around because my mares training was fairly complete so I wanted a challenge. So I think it does take more time than people are giving it credit to train a horse to go bridleless, but to get on without a bridle can be done in a day. I always think of this lady I used to pass on the trail who would ride without a bridle, that was crazy to me, but I'm sure she was fine, I saw her day after day, so that to me, is RIDING bridleless.
I haven't taught any of my horses recently to ride without a bridle. When Denny and I were both a lot younger, I taught him to ride with nothing more than a rope around his neck. He did pretty well but was not as responsive as with the bridle, but I didn't work on it every day either. I just started with a rope around his neck and I would ask him with that, then tell him with the bit or halter (depending on what I was using that day). He is very smart so it didn't take but a few times of telling before he figured it out. I have pictures somewhere, I will have to find them.
Equestriun, you aren't quite getting what we are saying. I never set out to teach my horses to ride with a neck rope or respond off of leg for the sake of riding bridleless, that is how I ride anyway, bridle or not. Being able to take the bridle off is just a byproduct of solid training.
As I said before, the bit is a tool for listening, not for telling. If my horse is heavy on the right rein, then I know the center of balance has shifted to the right and the horse will fall to the right. The rider must use their weight to shift it center, the rein can help, but is secondary to the seat and leg. As far as steering, stopping, etc, that is not by bridle anyway, so why should it matter if it is there or not? If the foundation is solid, then the bridle is not needed. The more impulsion that the horse finds, the harder it is to keep the balance on the hind legs, and the more the rider will need the bridle to assist them in helping the horse to find the comfort in its own balance. That is why, although most of my horses are safe to ride bridleless in the open, down the road, wherever you want to go, I most always still use the bridle, because every moment that I am on that horse, I am training it.
So therefore, I stand by my statement that I have never set out to train a horse to ride bridleless, yet any of my horses that have been in training for any amount of time can ride bridleless without any instances where I don't feel safe. Am I going to run out there and jump on my green 3 yr old without a bridle? No, of course not. But you will never here me say "I want to train her to ride bridleless some day". I will say "I am training her to have a solid foundation and correct travel, where she can effectively use her hind legs and balance herself without relying on the rider. With this she will have a sound mind that will support us in the ring, on the trail, in a cow pasture, or in traffic. Her basic training will be mostly classical dressage to help her physically, and then we will go into cow work, as that is what she is bred for." I can promise you that once I accomplish most of that, I will be able to hop on her bridleless without any problem at all. However, that is not my goal, it is a byproduct of complete training. Is it easy, hell no. Whoever said training a horse well was easy? However, I have never trained a horse to ride without a bridle, I simply just train horses.