Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bareback, bitless and carefree?

Bodhi and I are well. The rain has kept us from doing a lot of riding and the accompanied blues from all these gray days has kept me from posting. Bodhi and I are still struggling with the canter work. We do best bareback so I have ridden the last two times that way and had some nice canter departs. It is really hard for me to sit back and straight at the canter and my trainer thinks (and I think she is right) that it is causing Bodhi to go on the forehand. I think this issue with my posture is the last major cross road I am hitting from my change over from hunt seat to dressage. I have not found my groove yet at the canter so everything just feels wrong! Ech! I am a dressage rider now but it is so hard to let go of the old comfortable ways of riding. Practice is what it will take of course and I seem to find my balanced place better when I ride bareback so I will stick with that.

Since I have been riding a lot bareback I have been getting Bodhi very light with seat and leg aids and really trying to think "reins for headset only" as my trainer always reminds. That got me to thinking why do I need to stick metal in my horse's mouth to accomplish this and would he not be softer if I tried something like a bitless?
SO I am thinking about Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle

It seems well regarded....Has anyone personally used it?

Although it is expensive and I feel not essential (I already have two nice bit bridles for heaven's sake!) I feel compelled to try it. The website offers a one month trial period so if I do not like it I don't have to buy it. Can't lose right?


  1. I'm actually thinking of getting a Dr. Cook's too - on the recommendation of a blogger who retrains TB ex-racehorses. I'm ordering mine soon so we can compare notes!

  2. Ooh that will be nice! I think i am going to get the beta/synthetic model. What about you?

  3. I'm going for the leather, I think. Also, thank you very much for your thoughtful comment on my blog!

  4. Hi Molly,

    I have enjoyed looking around your site. I have found personally that bareback has been very helpful to position,I once rode for more than 3 months bareback (or sometimes with a saddle blanket and surcingle). I am thoughtful that too much bareback may make the horse's back sore - as the 2 points of our pelvis that make up our seat bones add pressure in 2 very specific places.

    I would query the thought 'reins for headset only'. Reins surely are for the application signals? Almost always (unless conformational problems, or past learned bahaviours need re-training) - when the horse's legs are truely under control,the horse relaxes softly into his bit and the head drops naturally into the 'rounder' position. The horse will go forward to the bit and will 'murmur' on it.

    Bitless bridles definitely have their place, in my view... nice for a change for the horse, to retrain horses with mouth or learned problems, some horses have a preference for them as is shown by how they go. There has been research done on this by members of the ISES (International Society for Equitation Science). Beware some 'research' done by non-independent entities can be biased!

    Be vigilant and thoughtful in introducing an item of tack such as bitless bridle. Some horses 'freak out' with a cross-over design (work them from the ground, and teach them about pressure first before hopping on). I also recommend starting in a safe, confined environment, rather than going straight out to ride as you normally do.

    I look forward to following how you are going.
    Karen ;)