The other was from a friend who had led my horse out to the field the day before. 'How was she?' I asked, 'lovely' replied my friend 'much nicer than leading the other horses'. I was pleased, I have spent a lot of time on groundwork. But why is it important and how does it relate to riding bitless?
The conversation I was reminded of started after I had returned to the yard following a session walking my horse out round the fields. 'Ooh I could never do that with my horse' was the comment. There followed a conversation between three owners which followed along the lines of the Monty Python Yorkshireman sketch, with each owner successively describing a worse behaviour that their horse would exhibit if they tried the same until the last one declared that their horse would barely step a hoof off the yard without rearing and taking off. It wasn't true of course and the conversation would have been amusing if the owners hadn't considered it a badge of honour to have such a difficult horse.
Now I been riding for a long time, have ridden a large number of different horses some of them problematic or very green and I am not a nervous rider but there is something that I will not do and that is to not get on a horse that I could not control from the ground first.
Let just say that again 'I would not get on a horse unless I could control from the ground first' sounds simple? sounds sensible? but how many owners are dragged around by their horses who then happily hop on board and trust that the piece of metal in their horses mouth is going to keep them safe. It isn't, only trust and communication will keep them safe.
Riding bitless is about trust and communication, so if I have a horse who isn't going to listen and communicate in a headcollar or halter then he isn't going to be safe to ride.
Good communication on the ground is the foundation of good communication in the saddle.
I will cover what is good groundwork that is helpful for riding bitless and how to achieve it in later blogs. Happy Bitless Riding.