I’ll bet most people believe that you must ride a horse with a bridle. I’m also sure that many people have seen horses on the internet, in movies or in the circus being ridden with no bridle. Well the truth is it easier than you think. That is of course if you really know how to train a horse properly. You may to invest a few years of hard study and practice training a horse before you may be ready to ride a horse bridleless. It is not something that I would try if I couldn’t I didn’t have the confidence to relinquish the feeling of total control. Riding bridleless for the first time is a strange feeling and you have trust yourself and the horse.
Let me ask you if you can control your horse without using your reins and bit? Can you get your horse to stop, turn, back, trot, walk, disengage his hindquarters or move his front end? Oh you say that you are having trouble doing those tasks with a bit in his mouth. First thing you need to concentrate on is figuring how to communicate to your horse to do a task without relying on your reins. How would you that? Horsemanship skills that’s how. Do you really know what spurs are used for? Do you know how to use your body to tell the horse what you want? Have you ever rode your horse using a neck rope?
Riding a horse bridleless well is equivalent your horse having a Bachelors Degree in horseology. It’s takes skill and practice. When you can ride your horse well and your horse responds willing when ridden with a bit then it is time to think about ridding him bridleless. The test would be dropping the reins over the saddle horn and playing the how long can you ride your horse without touching the reins. You need to have the reins so that you can quickly gain control of the horse if things start to go bad. I like to use a neck rope made from a horseman’s string. I loop the string around the horse’s neck and I use that before I grab the reins.
This to be teaches the horse many things. Number one I don’t need a bit to control him and two this helps change that horse’s psychology that I can control him in any situation. Remember you are always being a leader. A leader has to always maintain his or her leadership and use good opportunities to demonstrate it.
A neck rope also takes some practice to learn and to teach. But the neck rope is a back up to enforcing what you want the horse to do. Your body language and body cues are the thing you want to teach your horse in order to ride bridleless. What is your body cue to turn left or right? The body cue to stop or back? How about the body cue to disengage the hindquarters?
There are three things that you must have in order to ride a horse bridleless. You must have TLC. Yes TLC equals, Trust, Leadership & Communication. If you have all of them developed equally in your horse then riding your horse bridleless will be easy.
Problems and frustration occurs when you don’t. I will say there is probably nothing more rewarding than riding a horse with no saddle and no bridle but the horse does everything you want. I think the goal of every true horseman or horsewoman is to ride their horse bridleless. When you can ride your bridleless then you know your horse is really trained.