‘You don’t know what you don’t know’, this a wonderful expression. Sometimes we do things that hurt others because we simply don’t know. I did things that hurt horses for many years because I didn’t know. I believed what everyone told me, my teachers, my mentors, and felt that if I improved my horse skills enough everything would fall into place. I used bits, spurs and whips, and I loved my horses. I really loved them, and believed I was giving them the best life. I worked ha
I sometimes hear the phrase, ‘It’s amazing that you ride bitless’. Then; your horses must be very quiet, you must be a great rider, you must be an experienced horse trainer and then; how do you stop your horse?, I could never do that my horse is way too hot/forward/fast/naughty, isn’t it dangerous?, I’d love to go bitless but I could never control my horse without a bit and other well-meaning comments. Some people think that to ride a horse without a bit is something only for
Recently while doing a bitless presentation, I discovered that the main thing people wanted to know was how to transition to a bitless bridle. Over the 10 years I’ve been using cross-under bitless bridles, I’ve developed exercises that make the transition from riding with a bit to without a bit seamless. Below I will describe step by step how to do this easily with any horse. Ensure correct fitting. A badly fitting bridle can distract the horse and/or reduce communication. Th
In most articles or books about horsemanship you’ll find a reference to timing. While many people are aware of the idea of effective timing the practise of it can be quite difficult to master. It’s one of those things that set the distance between a beginner and an experienced horse trainer. It can appear to be a small thing in the moment but the progression of effective training is totally dependent on it.
The single most important area where timing is crucial is the releas
I was recently talking with a lady who understood that animals are sentient and should be treated with respect and kindness. But even though she was clear about how animals should be treated she had trouble getting her head around the idea of riding with a bitless bridle. This got me to thinking about the ‘culture of horse riding’.
In this culture it is a known fact that you cannot control a horse without a bit. It is ok to use force and pain to make a horse do want you wan
This is a great game to play with any horse that has a rusty ‘go button’. It develops forwardness in the horse, gets snappy responses to leg aids, builds horse and rider communication/relationship and develops the riders’ seat. Horses that won’t go can seem ‘lazy’ when in fact they’re ‘blocked’, desensitised or don't understand. They don't respond to normal leg pressure. There are a number of reasons why this can be the case. Some horses won’t move forward because their respo
I was very fortunate when I changed all my horses from being ridden with a bit to a bitless bridle. Without exception they all took to the bitless bridle without a problem. At the time I just thought that was normal and everyone’s horses would be the same. Since then I’ve learnt a few things. Sometimes when I meet a new horse and their owner wants to try bitless, the horse doesn’t take to it instantly. So I developed a training program to assist the transition to a bitless br
Everyone’s looking for the happy place. This is where life is beautiful, there are no pressures on us and no stress, this is where we can relax and enjoy what the world has to offer. Horses also look for the happy place. When horses are in the happy place they can relax and unwind their muscles, their minds are open to learning, as there is no stress, and they are much more open to their human.Far too frequently when I’m out and about training horses and their humans, I find
And now we make it to the final discussion on the rider’s body parts. So far the legs, hands, arms and head & neck have been covered. The torso is the part in the middle of all these and so is quite literally the central component of any rider. A well balanced, centred torso is fundamental for the effective use of all the other parts. The easiest way to describe the desirable position for the torso is to divide it into two sections. The upper torso is from the riders centre
This has to be the number one question that people ask me, and it’s a good one. Horses are famous for being able to run fast, very fast, and when we sit on them we want to know we can stop them. Many people who ride horses are afraid and the number one fear they have is that their horse will take off and they won’t be able to stop them. In response to this fear an industry based on control through pain has arisen. The number of torture devices on the market is incredible. In
Softness Posted on July 14, 2016 by happyhorsesbitless This is a word that’s used often in the horse world, soft hands, soft seat, soft horse…. but what is it and how do we get it? To be soft is to not be hard. Soft does not mean wimpy, it means gently and with feeling. When a rider has ‘hard hands’ they are not feeling the horse at all, they yank on the reins suddenly and use large amounts of pressure. When a rider has ‘soft hands’ they are using all the nerve endings in the
My own personal journey with bitless bridles began over ten years ago. Since then I have passed through many and varied learning experiences and perspectives. Now I find I’m returning to a similar place to where I started. Initially I loved the cross-under bitless bridle because it meant I could immediately remove the bit from my horses’ mouths. I’d been riding in halters for years but didn’t feel safe doing that riding alongside the road or at work taking people out riding.