Liberty Riding *** Rant!!
everyone I know right now is raving over "Liberty" riding! What I see in liberty is people (not everyone, but most) riding bareback and bridleless with NO helmets usually!! Its nice to know they trust their horses but horses have a mind of their own. The other day I read a post where the girl was leading a trail ride filled with inexperienced riders with no tack on. The girls horse bolted back to the barn and she had no way to stop the horse fortunately one of the more experienced guys horse was a cutting horse and the guy knew what he was doing and herded the horse into a pasture where he got the girls horse under control! They day after she posted that she would never ride him without a bridle again. then the next day she posted that she would never ride him with tack again! then she proceeded to sell her bridle! I think that you don't need to use your reins but why not just have the bridle on in case of emergency? does anyone else feel the same about liberty?
The ONLY "Liberty Training" I ascribe to is the precursor to loose lunging, where you trained the horse and yourself to communicate with your body and a whip, as an extension of your arm and body.
I dislike this fad, just like I dislike the bitless bridle. People who do this and fail have NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO idea the countless thousands of hours of training it takes a horse to be rideable without the tack we depend upon to stay on and maintain control.
The only time I ever rode my finished lesson (my riding academy) horses was when I decided to leave my campsite to the trailer in the parking lot. I decided that my older QH, "Ro Go Bar" (1982-2009, RIP) didn't need a bridle for this trip, so I rode him there and back again with just a halter and lead. I had no trouble, but I also didn't think it was the best way to maintain his training, so I never repeated it. I was just proud as punch that he had become that reliable bc when I bought him as a 7yo he was green and spooky. By the time he was a 15yo, you could really trust him, but he had so many hours under saddle in lessons and at events and on family vacations that I lost track. He was truly a finished horse and an excellent babysitter bc he was safe, slow and lazy, AND 15'3hh, big enough for anybody to ride.
I think these people are playing with fire, and don't have ANY IDEA of how their horses can hurt or kill them. =/
I was prepping my BLM mustang so i would be able to show at Mustang Millions doing a "Liberty" routine and I would have been fine doing it had a not pulled from the competition, but I strongly advise against novice horse owners/people from doing this for any reason.
Liberty riding is intense and not only requires a strong understanding and mutual respect of horse/rider, but it requires a handful of specific cues that are taught in addition to your normal cues (like a solid, tackless, emergency stop).
I am not against the idea of liberty riding and I am all for people striving to have that solid ability as a horse/rider team, but I am against people thinking that this is easy to attain or is for everyone.
All of that being said, I really enjoy liberty riding when done right.
I think that people who take pointless stupid risks like the example given by the OP set a bad example for all the people who do ride like this in a controlled safe area
I don't necessarily have a problem with it. If you want to do that with your horse it's your risk, your horse, and your life. To lead a trail ride or be responsible for other people then no I would say use better judgement and at least use a bridle or a halter of some sort. I ride my mare bareback and in a halter and leadrope. Then again, I trust her enough to do so. If I would ever try this 'liberty riding' I would make sure I was in an enclosed area with a helmet on. I'm sorry to take the rainbows and butterflies out of horses but very few people have that special connection to their horse. I do almost everything on my mare bareback with a halter and leadrope (usually because I'm too lazy to go about tacking up and just ride her up from the field) and I don't have a problem, but I'm not naive enough to think that I can take the halter off and expect her to go no problem, that takes years of training for both horse and rider. There's nothing wrong with trying it for giggles or trying it just for fun so long as it's a safe enviornment for your horse and you're not going to directly affect other riders in case of an accident. You can get killed just as easily sitting in a saddle or sitting bareback on a horse; they outweigh us and are going to win any fight they pick. So long as the rider uses good judgement in timing and horse choice I say what the heck, doesn't hurt to switch it up. Personally if I did it (even just for giggles) I would have a halter or something on that I could control my horse with in case of an emergency.
I think liberty riding in an arena is COMPLETELY different than liberty riding on a trail.
Horses are prey animals. If they even THINK something is going to eat them, the majority of them, regardless of miles on them or how well-trained they are, will bolt. Why would you put yourself in the position that you have zero control over your horse if it gets spooked? "But we have such an amazing bond! Pookie would never hurt me!" BS. If "Pookie" thinks whatever is out there is going to eat him, the last thing he's going to be worried about is you.
I've trail ridden with many well-trained, "dead broke" horses. Some of them were older polo ponies, some were career dude string horses, and others were retired ranch horses. All were older (10+). All of them had enough training that most people would figure they'd be rideable on te trail bareback with just a halter. I've also seen these horses have some of the biggest blow-ups I've ever seen while out on the trail with novice riders. I've seen a dead-head, dead broke ranch horse try to bolt through a barbed wire fence on the side of the road because a dump truck drove by. I've also seen a dead broke, lazy polo pony, who was used as a dude string horse in the off-season, freak out when weeds brushed her belly and she swore it was gonna eat her. The point is, even with tack it was difficult for the riders to control these horses that were in "flight" mode. If they had been liberty riding, either the riders would have ended up seriously injured, or they would have ended up dead.
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Its fun to play around with in an area, as a demonstration of how a horse works off leg and seat. End of story.
Its not the mark of a good trainer, or evidence of a great horse. Nor is it in any way evidence of a "bond"
I don't know if this is becoming so popular from the notion many people still cling to about the "magical bond" that has been popularized by the king of the wind, black stallion, etc, or what. Its annoying, misleading to the uneducated and fool hardy.
Horses have bad days. Things scare them. Some how being on a horse bare back and bridle less out on a trail ride when a bear decides to say hello doesn't sound great. Nor would a situation I was in last year, when a familiar trail was unexpectedly colonized by ground dwelling wasps. We rode over them, and my mare ended up with 20-30 stings on her belly. I rode it out, but my horse that never bucks or bolts, bucked and bolted.
I do feel, however, that Liberty Riding is a way for a trainer to showcase the ability of the horse and the horse's response to cues. It is NOT a way to showcase a fairy tale bond between horse an rider but I feel it is a good way to showcase the ability of a horse/rider team in a professional showcase.
That being said, I still think it isn't something for novice riders to do and I do believe it is dangerous to try and attempt it without training experience.
I know. I have absolutely ZILCH tolerance for that faffing around. "Oh its better for the horse... Bridles and saddles are unnatural".
I honestly can't stand it. For me its simple, comfortable tack, with the odd training aid, like the bungee if needed. Apart from that, not much else :P
But none of this: "I'm a rebel, lets ride untrained horses out without bridles and saddles, and lets not have helmets"
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