Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Ontario, Canada
• Horses: 0
Being able to ride your horse tackless one day is an admirable goal. Many people were inspired a few years ago by the video of Stacey Westfahl riding her reining mare without tack. Stacey has said that it took about 1600 hours of training time to reach that point. If she had worked with her mare 1 hour a day 365 days a year, it would have taken her over 4 years. And Stacey is a professional horse trainer with years of training experience.
The most important thing for any horse - whether or not you aspire to ride without tack - is that the horse is given a good, solid foundation in the basics so that he is able to comfortably and willingly work with his human partner.
Be consistent with his training and go at his learning curve rather than your own deadlines. Always use your aids in this order - seat first, then leg, reins last. Never steer from your reins - use them only as boundaries that tell your horse where not to go. Use your seat and leg to steer his hips and shoulders and control his bend. This way, you are teaching your horse to respond to your seat and leg cues - those work with or without a saddle.
As his responses improve AND he is able to maintain a correct frame without the reins, you can ride with less contact on the reins. While keeping the bridle on as back up, ride him with a neck rope. Every stage progresses in baby steps, with your horse's and your own safety the number one priority. Always train in a safe environment and with the help of an experienced coach/trainer.
Good luck. Have fun. And always, enjoy the journey. You'll become a better horseperson through the process.