Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Windy, Cool, Bareback, First Time In Bitless Bridle - Why Not?

It's a beautiful morning, although very windy - a steady wind of about 20 mph with higher gusts - cool and sunny. Dawn and I went for a brief ride this morning - the winds are supposed to get even higher this afternoon. I rode bareback, and in order to prevent my hurting her mouth if she spooked by using the reins for balance (a big no-no in my book), I used my Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle. This would be the first time I'd ridden her in it, and I briefly considered putting my regular snaffle bridle on over it with the reins tied up - not for stopping power but in case she spooked/bolted and didn't understand the turn cue well enough with the Dr. Cook's - I've found with some horses the steering can be a a bit "mushy" with the Dr. Cook's. Before I got on, I asked for gives to the side and some backing with the bitless bridle - she responded very well. The full cheeks on the snaffle were a little too close to the rings on the bitless bridle's reins for my comfort - I didn't want any risk of them getting caught, so I took off the snaffle bridle.

I had set out four cones in a large square in the arena. I got on bareback from the large mounting block outside the arena and we went inside and started working. We did a modified barrel pattern, with 4 instead of 3 cones, looping around each cone - sometimes a 360 degree turn, sometimes just partway around, and then proceeding to the next cone and looping it in one direction or the other. This is a great focus exercise that I like to use. Dawn was completely relaxed and focused and turned very well in the bitless - and her neck reining was if anything a bit better. We also threw in some halts and backing for good measure. I'd say her responsiveness and softness were at least as good as they have been in the snaffle, although I wasn't asking for her to carry herself to the usual degree - I didn't want to stress the still-healing cuts on her neck. Since we were doing so well, we added some trot work. We did the same sorts of patterns, but trotting any time we were between cones and walking as we went around cones - more work on focus and precision. She was fabulous! Soft, relaxed trot, very good transitions and responsiveness, and my sitting trot was just fine bareback. I felt completely natural and relaxed bareback, and it was wonderful to feel exactly how her body was moving under me without the "dampening" effect of a saddle.

We stopped after a bit of trot work and I took her out to graze. I told her many times what an excellent horse she was. Bitless, bareback and windy! What amazing fun that was! I think there's more of this (with luck, without the wind) in our future!

20 comments:

  1. Isn't it funny what new things we can discover when something (Dawn's injury, in this case) forces us to do something in a new way! Glad it went so well.

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  2. Funny how fate led you to bareback and bitless with her, and it seems like just the right thing. An inspiration to me, too.

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  3. Dawn sounds like a great horse, you may never go back to regular tack she is doing so well

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  4. Sounds like a great ride... I've been meaning to get my hands on a bitless bridle to try, but I don't feel like spending the $$ right now...

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  5. I will have to ride Beamer bareback for a while until I get the saddle fit issue sorted out. Glad your lovely mare worked well for you and that she's healing up well.

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  6. Sounds like a lot of fun. I am a horrible bareback rider, i just fall off. I should practice more adn maybe Id get better.

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  7. I'm glad everything worked out so well for both of you. It does sound like you got a lot accomplished and had fun too. It's always fun to try different things. Bitless, bareback and windy, who would have thought she would be such a superstar. That's great!

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  8. I finally worked up the nerve to try bareback and bitless with my mare, for her first ride in two months. Granted she's coming into rehab and we only walked for five minutes, but she was really more responsive than I expected. Maybe the Resperine helped ;-) We just used a halter and two lead ropes though.

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  9. Sounds like a wonderful ride Kate!

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  10. Great ride. I used to ride bareback all the time. Tried a few months back and I felt too insecure. Of course it didn't help that the horse I was on wasn't steering very well. *lol*

    Tried a bitless bridle too and my boy did not like it. He was very fussy with his head. Again, I used to ride bitless all the time. Wonder what the differences are now?

    My old age....

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  11. Sounds like fun!!! One of my favorite pastimes is Riding Missy bareback in just a halter and lead rope or clip-on reins. I always feel more intuned to her without a saddle...

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  12. You two seem to have great harmony. I tried a Dr Cook's on Ben and he hated it, I think it was from the pressure on the poll. I would like to tray a different kind of bitless bridle however.

    Your header photo is lovely.

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  13. Oh, Kate, sounds like a great ride and Dawn likes the bitless! I have a Dr. Cook and a bitless noseband that I can change headstalls on, I like it and so does Gilly. He is OK with the Dr. Cook but seems to prefer the noseband that just puts a little pressure on his chin. It has a very soft woven nylon chin strap. When I get the bridle out he will actually put his nose right in. Same headstall with bit you were fighting with him to get his head down to try and get the bit in his mouth. So we don't do bits anymore and he does fine. I have never had a wreck with a bitless on, it has only happened with a bit. (hope i didn't jinks my self!)

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  14. jane - what is the noseband/chin strap bitless you have? I might be interested in that - I'm a little worried that the straps under the chin will chafe.

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  15. Jane I am interested in the noseband/chin strap bitless that you refer to as well. I also have a Dr. Cook's and I think it is fine for those rides when a lot of precision isn't required. Kate put it well that the steering can get a little "mushy" and sometimes I didn't feel like the release was quite instantaneous enough.

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  16. Yes, I have always wanted to try a bitless bridle. I have tried so many buts, but you never know what one will be better than another until you try. I like to think I never pull on my horse's mouth when I use a tom thumb bit. I mean, that's a bit you really must be careful with. But i like it. To see how my horse really feels about it though, we'd have to ask her.

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  17. Have you tried this bitless?

    http://www.nurturalhorse.com/

    It's the one Sydney recommends.

    I thought I'd try it.

    I'd like to get more bareback riding in, but I'm kind of nervous. We did ride bareback in the lake - that was fun!

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  18. Kate, sent you a private email with the info for the noseband.

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  19. We most often go bitless but in our world that's just a bosal and macate. A horse naturaly carries his head different with one on, more balanced. I'd ride bareback too if I could but where would I dally my rope with out that honkin big horn on my Wade saddle. All put together, bitless, saddleless, and windy, I'm impressed.

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  20. Sounds like a great ride on Dawn. Bitless and bareback - you know these are my two favorite ways to ride. I bet Dawn liked it too!

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