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Why Bridle-less Riding?

This article highlights what is required for bridle-less riding and the true purpose of it.


Bridle-less riding is a subject of many misconceptions among the general horse population. The idea of riding a horse without a bridle or saddle is synonymous with having a special gift and a special relationship with a horse. This is true, to a certain extent, but many people fail to realise the amount of time and energy that is committed to training a horse, to achieve the goal of bridle-less riding. In many cases hundreds and hundreds of hours of training need to be committed to develop the necessary foundation for bridle-less riding. The quality of your foundation will be exactly proportional to the success of your bridle-less riding experience.

There are no real short cuts to achieving the goal of riding without a bridle, but there are some significant factors to realistically consider before embarking on the journey.


Your level of skill and experience

Your level of skill and experience is a very important contributing factor to consider. If you have no or very little experience with horses and riding, you will need to factor in more time to learn the basics as well as time to develop an understanding of horse behaviour and how to have balance while riding. To put it simply, you also have to develop certain skills that involve coordinating different body parts while maintaining balance in motion.

Riding without a bridle requires that you develop an independent seat. Having an independent seat means, that your balance is solely derived from your seat without hanging on with any part of your body including your legs. Attempting to ride without a bridle when you haven’t properly developed an independent seat can create a very confidence destroying experience.

If you have lots of experience and a good natural balance this will definitely allow you to progress quicker with your horse.



Your horses training experience

Your horses training experience is another really important factor to consider. If you have a young or green horse, which has had very minimal training you will need to allow much more time to develop the basic foundation first. This can be quite time consuming initially, but once your horse has a good foundation it will be much easier to introduce the concepts of bridle-less riding.

If you have a horse which has a good training foundation, then you are already more then half way there. All the principles of bridle-less riding stem from you and your horse having a good knowledge of the basics.


Your horse’s temperament

Your horse’s temperament is another very important thing to take into consideration. All horses have an innate temperament, which can be classified by their innate characteristics. These are aspects about the nature of a horse which will remain inbuilt as a part of the horse’s character. An example of this is how a horse expresses its behaviour when it is calm, playful, scared or seeking comfort.

It is very common to see, that certain character traits and behavioural tendencies in people, affect different horses in different ways. When you are considering whether or not to attempt bridle-less riding, with a horse, take into consideration how well you are suited to your horse temperament wise. Do you compliment each other or do you tend to naturally just rub each other the wrong way.

Having a horse which you naturally have a connection to and get along with easier, is always going to make the goal of learning to ride without a bridle easier to achieve.



Your athletic ability vs your horse’s athletic ability

The natural athletic ability of horses and people can vary dramatically. Having some degree of athleticism and balance does accelerate your journey to bridle-less riding, as it allows you to navigate some of the challenges that your horse may present with more confidence and ease. The aspects of athleticism which I’m referring to are strength, flexibility, balance, agility, physical fitness and coordination. We all tend to have some strong areas and other areas that are weaker.

This can be viewed in a similar way when looking at your horse and its degree of natural athleticism. Some horses have far more natural athleticism then others. Once again, they will have their areas of strength and areas of weakness. If you find that your horse’s natural athleticism far exceeds your ability to work with it, then it is wise to consider if your horse is beyond your level of skill and ability. Creating a safe bridle-less riding experience is always my primary objective, which can mean that some horses and their owners would not be considered as compatible enough to safely attempt bridle-less riding.

Having said that, a horse’s temperament and attitude towards their owner can completely override their athletic tendencies. In these situations, the horse owner can rely on their bond, connection and excellent preparation with their horse, to keep the horse relaxed and focused, which reduces the horse’s tendencies to rely on their flight response.


Time and energy commitment

Being able to commit enough time and energy to developing a foundation for bridle-less riding is probably the most important factor in reaching the goal. I always say to people, that you can’t expect to develop physical fitness if you only work out once a month! And the same can be said for bridle-less riding, if you can’t commit to practicing at least 3 times a week then expect that progress will be pretty slow. It’s also unrealistic to expect your horse to be consistent on a mental, emotional and physical level if you are not putting in a consistent effort.



Why it’s worth the effort

Riding your horse around without a bridle doesn’t make you better and more connected to your horse then people who can’t. If you’re doing it just to boost your ego, then you’ve missed the point. For me, the purpose of bridle-less riding is to challenge and develop my communication skills as a horse trainer. Every horse offers a unique challenge which, when embraced whole-heartedly, can make you better as a human being. The challenge of bridle-less riding is not to show your friends you can ride without a bridle. The challenge is to experience the unity between you and your horse, which allows you to do almost anything, with or without a bridle.


We have a Bridle-less Riding clinic coming up on the 20th & 22nd of February 2016 at Vakarra Park on the Sunshine Coast. If you want to book in    Contact Us

For more information about Bridle-less Riding clinics click here   Bridle-less Riding

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