Welcome to my blog. I hope to introduce you to different bitless bridles and how they work, share some transitioning and training tips as well as other useful points. I will also introduce you some of my musings on aspects of horsemanship and share my journey with my beautiful horse Ember, without whom none of this would have been possible.
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
How did it all start?
So first up, a little bit of background. I first went bitless back in 1992, yes 23 years ago. Back then I came across a book called Riding - the true techniques, by Lucy Rees. It is an understatement to say this book changed the relationship I had with my horse, it was an inspiration to me.
In the book there is a picture of a pony being ridden in a noseband with reins attached, the caption said 'some sensitive ponies don't need a bit'. Well in a dashing gung ho teenage way, I thought, I have a sensitive pony, I have a noseband with rings I can attach reins to, let's try it out.
The very next day with noseband and reins I set off for a ride, everything seemed perfectly normal and then 5 minutes into the ride my pony stopped and let out the largest sigh I have ever felt. He suddenly felt all relaxed and soft. But, I cried I didn't even know he was tense, after all he didn't have any tagible problems with the bit, not of the behaviours we are used to seeing. But he must have been carrying a lot of tension anyway. Bitless bridles were not really available back then, except the English Hackamore, remember when there was no internet, when we were not connected to the four corners of the world and all the knowledge it contains? So unless it was in my local tack shop, in a mail order catalogue or a magazine I could not buy it.
So I started making my own bridles, which were really just webbing nosebands I covered with fleece and attached to my bridle. I took pony to local shows, dressage, jumping and gymkhanas and I am happy to say that most of the time it went without comment. Except for once at a local riding club, one week when I arrived for the meet one of the instructors looked at my pony and asked 'where is your bit?' In true teenager cheekiness I looked at my pony, clapped my hands to my face in mock horror and exclaimed 'Oh No, it must have fallen out on the way here!' That earn't me an exasperated look and a sending to the back of the line, oh well, I know my pony was better off without a bit, is yours?