The Art of Natural Dressage

Working with the Horse's Initiative
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 5:17 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 17, 2007 8:18 pm
Posts: 4941
Location: Alberta
but also shows that playing silly "games" is great for Haute Ecole

After you've poked around here a bit, I think you'll find that we advocate this exact thing. Have fun! :D

"Ride reverently, as if each step is the axis on which the earth revolves"

PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:45 pm 

Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:03 am
Posts: 760
Just wanted to quickly give my input on the bit/no bit question. I've been here for over a year and had stopped riding my horse in a bit a few months before I joined. I did not know all the reasons not to use bits at the time, I just thought at the time, even though I never rode with contact any more, that my seat and my hands were not good enough in all riding situations to never pull on the reins accidentely. I also wanted to prevent a situation where I dropped the reins and my horse would step on them, possibly severely injuring her mouth. This can happen to riders at any level.
I think I still don't understand all the reasons not to use bits and don't have enough scientific knowledge to always sort through what is opinion and what is fact. So I decided to err on the side of caution. As long as I don't see any good reason to use a bit again I won't use one. My horse is getting lighter and softer the longer I ride with a halter-type bitless bridle and the better I get. Connection happens through using my seat, through riding with intent and through positive reinforcement.
I know from personal experience dental fillings, that metal in the mouth can have severe consequences because some of that metal will get into the bloodstream.
When I rode with a bit without contact, draped rein, my horse showed no negative reaction. She eagerly took the bit because it had become a cue for her that she would get to go for a trail ride and enjoy lush grass as part of that. She never swished her tail or tensed up that I noticed when I rode her with a bit either but of course I could have missed it. Either way, I have not seen a reason for using a bit after about 18 months of not using one, quite the opposite, the gentler the tools that I have used the more softness and lightness my horse has offered to me. I hope to get to the point where I can ride bridle less like some people here do. To me what I do with my horse is basically just having fun together, riding and non-riding.
It sounds like you found a very open-minded instructor who will allow you to explore a relationship with horses, not just teach you how to ride. :)


PostPosted: Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:59 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:44 pm
Posts: 215
Location: South Africa
Hi Dignity!

I have to add my input and welcome as well :D

I have always rode traditional. Never n a competitive setting. I worked for hack stables and all the horses had bits. I always tried to ride on the loosest rein possible for the particular horse.

When I moved to South Africa 11 months ago to come live with Glen and learn more in-depth about AND and seeing it first hand I will admit I was a little intimidated thinking about riding her big warmblood with no bit in his mouth. At the end of July, I finally got my own horse :cheers:

She was traditionally trained, ex-racehorse, ex-polo pony, ex-brood mare. My first few times riding her, She had a bit in her mouth. The lightest snaffle bit we could find. As well as a running martingale as we weren't sure what she would do outside of a fenced area with a rider. So we took all precautions. Not the least of which was that if she took off on me, so would Freckles with Glen. Within 5 rides on her, the Martingale came off as well as the bit and I put her into a simple LG side pull bitless. She hasn't seen a bit since. From her first ride in the bitless she felt better, more confident and the cues were much clearer to her. I even use the bitless headstall if we are doing ground work to be clear to her that I want her attention. if I use nothing then she gets to choose what we do for that day. We are now working on cordeo cues and as she knows neck reining, it is coming easy. We haven't ridden outside of a fenced area yet with a cordeo but one day we will.

I made the decision to try a bitless and see if it would work for me and my horse. I agree with Karen, when you do lease or buy your own horse, you can make that decision for you and your horse together with your horse. Your trainer sounds great, I would keep talking with her and see where that road takes you. It is great you have a trainer that is open minded enough to understand you wanting to try kinder methods.

The best views can be seen from the back of a horse.

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