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About riding bitless...

This is a discussion on About riding bitless... within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category

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        01-03-2013, 01:14 PM
      #101
    Trained
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Newfie    
    ...The argument from people about going bit less is that they feel that a well trained horse would respond to a halter/sidepull/rope halter ect as well as a bit ,and if they don't respond it is because they don't have adequate training.For me who is learning as I go,something tells me that this should be the case....They feel that a good horseperson will have a responsive horse without the bit and wouldn't need a bit to even get the "finesse" that people talk about on this thread...
    I'd go back to what I posted earlier. Horses are emotional creatures. Some more so than others. If the horse is not very reactive, then he USUALLY will remain calm enough and relaxed enough to listen to most any cue - seat, leg, rein, bit, halter - it doesn't matter a whole lot if the horse is focused on you.

    1 - But some horses, and Mia is a good example, are far more emotional and intense. Mia bring more energy and intensity to a walk in the arena than Trooper brings to a gallop in the open. She is hyper-alert and her mind is constantly involved. That can make her fun to ride. If we go out in the desert solo, I'm NOT alone! There is a constant, stirring, restless, inquisitive 900 lbs of muscle underneath me.

    But it can be exhausting as well, because she IS always present. We don't normally go 50 feet without some interaction. She wants a constant give & take from her rider. And it pays to keep her engaged, because the alternative is for her mind to wander. And when her mind wanders, I need to get it back to me before she finds SOMETHING to distract her and stir up her inner fears.

    After 14 months of training and very regular work, we're getting past most of her valid fears. But during all that time, I needed a bit to keep her engaged. I think I always will. It is, as I said, about COMMUNICATION, not PAIN. If I want Mia obedient, then I need to keep her mind occupied with ME. Not the wind. Not a bush. Not a piece of paper. Not a pink rhinoceros, or whatever else her mind can conjure up. Me. And the bit and reins are an easy way of keeping that constant feedback going between us. A rope halter just doesn't allow the communication she craves.

    2 - Also, she canters fine in an arena, with or without another horse. She seems pretty good about cantering by herself in the desert. But put another horse in the picture, with a trail going out in front of her, and she gets competitive. She starts to focus on beating the other horse, preferably by a big margin. And if I tell her to stay behind the other horse, she gets pissed!

    There may be some safe training technique that I don't know about to train that away from her. But she doesn't show it in the arena, because the arena confines her and she knows it. And she doesn't do it alone, so the only time to see it is on a desert trail - with rocks, gullies, bends, etc - and with another horse. She needs to yield to my mind, not her desires, to stay safe. If I owned a racetrack, I'd love to take her out and let her run against other horses. I'd bet she'd be a blast! But it isn't safe where I live.

    When you are fighting an excited, competitive horse, you need leverage. I have to yank hard with my hands down past my knees, and even then it is a struggle. I can stop her dead with a pulley stop in that situation, but that is a rough solution too!

    But bitless? Forget it! And if that is a training issue, well, where am I going to safely train it out of her? And can I? I suspect there is a reason why some sport horses are used with harsher bits. When their competitive spirit kicks in, they will run harder and faster than they ever would from a whip - but that means they are also more likely to ignore any signal you send thru a bit, let alone a mere halter.

    There are some other solutions I'm trying. We've started back doing arena work, and stopping from a canter while using a simple snaffle. Full stops, to a back up. I'm working on her jigging along the trail too. Yes, she is a work in progress, and I'll use any reasonable suggestion or tool I've got.

    But here is what will never change: she is a lot of horse, and I'm not a lot of rider. But I'm all she has. No one with a lot of experience wants a hot-headed mare who wants to race other horses in the desert. They know better than to buy her! And she wouldn't be safe with anyone less experienced, nor could I count on them to care for her. The trainer who worked with Mia said Mia was lucky to meet me, because she had known a lot of folks who would have dumped her at an auction by now.

    I'm lucky too, because Mia has taught me an incredible amount about horses. She fascinates me. She got me hooked on riding, because she is such an overwhelming presence to ride. She doesn't have a mean bone in her, but she doesn't have any "ATV bones" in her either! But no, she is not safe to ride in a halter, although I've done so many times. I just got tired of trusting to luck to keep me alive...

    I'm sure there are folks on HF who could do wonders with Mia. But I'm all that Mia has. I use an Aussie-style saddle because it improves my odds of survival. I use a bit with Mia for the same reason. And I ride because I just darn well enjoy her company!
         
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        01-03-2013, 01:17 PM
      #102
    Banned
    Horsesdontlie...that makes complete sense to me! Nice story .Wow! I can certainly see how a bit would get a horses attention quicker, particularly with difficult horses.
         
        01-03-2013, 01:27 PM
      #103
    Banned
    Bdsm..I think I am beginning to "get" the bit issue.That is also quite a tale.I seemed to have had a mental block.Probably because I have too very easy going horses.Not difficult at all.When you and horsesdontlie described the more difficult horses I began to make the connection.You see, my only frame of reference is my 2 geldings.I have not handled any "fiery" steeds.So with that said ,I can see where a bit would be preferencial.Thank you.I also got the feeling that if it were possible to rise Mia without the bit,you would in fact prefer to do that.However,because of her personality,you eed the bit to get her attention!.Love the pictures you posted on the previous post!
         
        01-03-2013, 01:32 PM
      #104
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Newfie    
    Horsesdontlie...that makes complete sense to me! Nice story .Wow! I can certainly see how a bit would get a horses attention quicker, particularly with difficult horses.
    Thank you, we have had one crazy story together. I am very glad I went through with it in the end. I can tell you, our first canter tackless was an amazing experience as most of the time keeping him calm at a canter with direct bit contact is hard enough as is. But its all so situational. The bit even with the slightest movements gets his attention, can keep him from rearing up, running into another horse or person on the ground, or stepping off the ledge into ravine. A halter he responds to 70% of the time, but he is so much of an tune out when the slightest thing is off that he is able to brace against the halter very very easy. He just locks his neck. Its more of the idea of mechanics. But this makes Jake sound worse than he is to some extent, most of the time he is just rushed, he hasn't reared in a long time or even thought about it. We haven't had much of any problems past prancing for a long time. So this is more of a reference when we were working past his bad times. I just like the bit for the just in case, who knows what would send him over the edge again? I have no delusions in believing that once they change they never go back. Some random thing could happen, who knows? I would like to be prepared.

    I was told this once to explain the difference between a halter and a bit. When you pull back on the side of a halter or sidepull it pulls backwards more than to the side, because honestly you're dealing with the sides of the horses face. While the bit point of contact is much lower on the horses face, it makes it so much easier to turn side to side. Its like holding a rope in your hand across where your thumb meets your palm then pulling back. Then put the rope between your finger tips (thumb and index). Even a very slight pull would turn your hand sideways, while the other not as much. They still give the same cue without pain, but one is more effective.
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        01-03-2013, 01:41 PM
      #105
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Newfie    
    Bdsm..I think I am beginning to "get" the bit issue.That is also quite a tale.I seemed to have had a mental block.Probably because I have too very easy going horses.Not difficult at all.When you and horsesdontlie described the more difficult horses I began to make the connection.You see, my only frame of reference is my 2 geldings.I have not handled any "fiery" steeds.So with that said ,I can see where a bit would be preferencial.Thank you.I also got the feeling that if it were possible to rise Mia without the bit,you would in fact prefer to do that.However,because of her personality,you eed the bit to get her attention!.Love the pictures you posted on the previous post!
    Its hard to understand sometimes past your own experience. Just one thing I've learned is that horses are just as unique as we are. One thing may work perfect for another horse, may set another horse off the deep end. The main thing we as owners/riders need to learn is to be flexible. Also to understand that you do not know other horses and riders and what they have gone through.

    That is great that you can ride your two bitless. The more comfortable for them, and it works, why change it? What works is what works.

    Not only is it for firey steeds though. They are refining tools, the same amount of attention grabbing and fine tuning that I described with Jake is needed for showing and asking for exact cues. We want to make it look effortless, a bit can give such subtle cues that it can make it look like the rider never even moves its hands. Look at the reining videos. Good reiners never even have contact that you can tell.
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        01-03-2013, 01:42 PM
      #106
    Banned
    I agree completely.I would not take the chance with him bitless either.If he behved that way before,something could trigger that behavior again.That makes complete sense.I think with me,my frame is reference is very small and so I had a vision of all horses being similar to mine.I know how dumb this may soound but I guess I never gave it much thought.Love the picture of you and Jake by the way.He is lucky to have you.
    bsms likes this.
         
        01-03-2013, 01:53 PM
      #107
    Banned
    Well,all I can add to this is that everyday is a learning experience.I began this horse journey at 39 yrs of age.That was 7 yrs ago.I had zero horse experience before that time.There is not a day that goes by where I don't learn something new.Horses are definitely unique beings! I will continue to work with my boys bitless because they are easy going and I don't need any refinement or finesse of show horses.As long as people keep the horse safe and comfortable while looking after personal safety,whether bitted or bitless...its all good!! Thank you for your polite respectable responses.I think we all,at times need to keep an open mind about...well everything!
         
        01-03-2013, 01:57 PM
      #108
    Yearling
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Newfie    
    I agree completely.I would not take the chance with him bitless either.If he behved that way before,something could trigger that behavior again.That makes complete sense.I think with me,my frame is reference is very small and so I had a vision of all horses being similar to mine.I know how dumb this may soound but I guess I never gave it much thought.Love the picture of you and Jake by the way.He is lucky to have you.
    You are growing then, just that realization alone makes you a better horseman. I'm sure all of us have to go through that at some point so don't feel stupid. I had little help working with Jake, so I probably tried every wrong way before I found the right one. I spent years and years trying to train him like everyone else trained their horses. I have come to realize I made him so much worse for a while. I've even been told by a horse behaviorist that doesn't really act like a horse either which makes him that much harder to train. (He isn't afraid of anything, has no inclination for self preservation, he doesn't conserve energy...ever, and doesn't have a mean bone in his body) Nothing added up to make sense to her.

    It took me probably 5 years after getting him to realize that he wasn't like the school horses I was used to riding, he wasn't like my friends calm natured horse. Even then after that it took years of trial and error before I started to really figure him out. Then sadly after everything started to click he developed ringbone and I had to retire him. I always wish I had learned what I know now earlier. He could have been amazing, but I was too closed minded.

    Thank you! =) It is one of my favorites because it is something that no one ever thought we would be able to do. A possibly small accomplishment for some, was an amazing milestone for us.
    Newfie likes this.
         
        01-03-2013, 05:26 PM
      #109
    Banned
    Horsesdontlie ,I undestand what you mean.It is not a small accomplishment at all.I know for certain that me riding horses at all is a large accomplishment.
         
        01-03-2013, 06:31 PM
      #110
    Yearling
    I am neither here nor there in pro or con whatever when it comes to bitted, bitless, or bridleless horses.

    I consider myself one of those backyard riders who simply enjoy riding for what it is with a couple of competitions at a local renaissance festival. And I can certainly say while it is rewarding to be able to do those things, I definitely get burnt out on the need to practice, and just want a nice, relaxing ride.

    This is where I go bitless. There are only two horses I ride who I can even dream about riding bitless. One is Brown, a mexican mustang with a nasty, grumbly personality who listens under saddle until he gets frustrated or bored and decides to argue. Ironically with him, I trust him 100% bitless because he is predictable, and I have ridden him enough times with a bit and saddle to go to the next level and go bitless and bareback. Because of his predictability and that I have worked with him a year and a half prior before attempting bitless, I felt confident that he would be a safe option, and I was correct.

    The other horse I ride bitless is Shooter, a menagerie of different breeds who I trust 75% of the time bareback AND bitless. He is a babysitter. A complete bombproof horse suitable for all riding levels. He "tests" riders often, however and at the higher gaits, tends to ignore leg pressure to do his own thing because he's simply been patterned to do it for over half of his life (he's twenty). So he's more of a challenge for me and only when I truly feel up to it and want to "work" on my skills rather than relaxingly ride. He also checks for any pressure by lowering his head. He also does this when bitted and has slack reign. Smart cookie on that front. But because he doesn't have a bit, he is constantly checking.

    The other horses I wouldn't dare. Dill needs a chin strap otherwise its bye bye brakes. Chance is too highstrung and spooky for me and I have hard enough time simply trying to keep him walking when he so terribly much loves to run. Until more work is put into him, there are a lot of things I don't trust him with.
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