Bridleless riding and the general horse public

I’ve been a dressage rider for quite a while now, (both modern and classical,) and began fooling around with cordeo (neckrope) work to check if my horses were actually collected for the last couple of years. I’ve worked quite a few horses this way and absolutely love it… even without the dressage angle. Enough for me to actually get a bit further than dabbling into natural horsemanship approaches and discover how soft and easy a horse can be to work with. That and feeling more than a little ashamed at some of the uglier bits I’ve used in the past after riding a horse with nothing at all on his face.

I also have a couple of spots coming open at my barn in a few months. I’d like to train horses for other like-minded riders, or offer lessons to folks on their own horses but I have absolutely no idea how to do this. I have an absolutely tiny barn, I am not by any stretch of the imagination a famous trainer and I don’t have an Australian accent. I also only want to take on one or two for training and keep my private barn a private barn. Any ideas?

Before you get too into the idea, look into what it would cost for insurance. If you are going to be responsible for someone else’s animal (and probably the person as well if you are going to give them lessons) you need to make sure you are covered.

If you’ve looked into the insurance and still want to pursue the idea, the next step is to get yourself out there. None of the current BNTs started as BNTs, they worked their way up. Maybe start with a few lessons a week and work your way up from there.

That’s a really, really good point, TB. We have insurance for our boarders, but I’m not sure how much beefier it might need to be if I am actually training or giving lessons… something to check for sure. As for being a bnt… I’d rather not. I’m mostly trying to figure out how to do this on a small scale. I just don’t know if anyone would want lessons in this stuff or to ride this way. It is kind of specific… not exactly like conventional dressage that is uber-regulated and has set rules and pretty ribbons and stuff. Thank you for the post, though… I’ll be calling our insurance company Monday to see.

If I was closer it’s definitely something that would interest me. Are you familiar with Karen Rohlf and her “Dressage Naturally” training? It sounds similar to what she does.

Ribbons and bows don’t interest me :slight_smile: I like learning to be the best I can be for my horse. Unfortunately Arkansas is just a little too far away. :smiley:

EL- I love her… she uses a LOT of classical elements and I do cordeo stuff a lot like how she does it. I also shamelessly borrow ideas from her and others and then go try them out on my babysitter 10 million year old mare. (I love sprinkles… bless her ancient little heart.) There must be a whole bunch of natural horsemanship folks out your way, though… right? The whole country can’t be as show-driven and fancy-shmancy as the east coast, I hope.

We are definitely not fancy-shmancy at our barn but our BO/Instructor is a silver medalist and she’s “natural” because she’s been riding/training/showing for 50+ years and knows what they’re going to do before they do!

I love her because she cares about the horses, understands them (and people) and has a million different tools in her toolbox to help her students do the best for their horse.

Good luck with your training barn - I hope you’re a huge success and more people discover the joy of horses over the joy of winning. :yes:

If you want to keep your facility private, you can always travel to others’ barns for lessons. Figure out what you’ll need to charge to cover gas, etc.

However, you should also think very carefully about who your potential audience is. Only people who are already hard-core NH? Only people who are willing to follow your path 100%? Or are you interested in adult amateur types who maybe love their discipline but are also interested in exploring other types of riding?

Because if you are interested in the latter, you may want to be careful about statements like this:

The whole country can’t be as show-driven and fancy-shmancy as the east coast, I hope.

You’re setting up an either-or situation, and you’re going to drive away anyone who maybe likes to do some casual showing here and there but is also very open to exploring alternative types of riding.

[QUOTE=Halt Near X;7468025]If you want to keep your facility private, you can always travel to others’ barns for lessons. Figure out what you’ll need to charge to cover gas, etc.

However, you should also think very carefully about who your potential audience is. Only people who are already hard-core NH? Only people who are willing to follow your path 100%? Or are you interested in adult amateur types who maybe love their discipline but are also interested in exploring other types of riding?

Because if you are interested in the latter, you may want to be careful about statements like this:

You’re setting up an either-or situation, and you’re going to drive away anyone who maybe likes to do some casual showing here and there but is also very open to exploring alternative types of riding.[/QUOTE]

That is a good point.
Really good horsemen don’t go putting what others choose to do down, just quietly do what works best for them, while never assuming that is the best or only way to do things, or even just that much better, mostly different.

As with bits, remember it is not the bit you use, but how you use that is a fine tool, or not.

Riding bridle-less is not a goal in itself, as bridle-less horse’s performance tends to deteriorate over time.
Bridle-less is great to do what you say, used occasionally, show you where you and your horse are, or your student is and for demonstrations.
That is some ways I have used and taught it.

I would say, riding bridle-less is one more tool of many only.
As a training tool, it is rather limited, compared with other we use to communicate with horses.

I would say that, if you already have boarders, your insurance should not be much more to give lessons.

Why not try what you want to do and see where it takes you?

X- I could have phrased that better… you’re right. I’m just very used to seeing folks who take it way over the top and do some pretty messed up stuff to get there. I actually am a weekend show rider myself, so that would be more my audience. Thank you for the advice… everything does always sound worse in print.

Bluey- Thanks for the post. I started out in a barn that used some horrible stuff on the horses… not nice friendly snaffles. I have nothing against bits and actually do ride in them as needed, I just don’t like over-bitting. I agree with you somewhat about quality in bridleless work if you do absolutely nothing else. For new stuff, I always teach in a bridle as I think its kind of unfair to try out new things without any clear way to explain it. There is a lot of give and take with bridleless work and I think a lot of it has to do with how well you can spot your horse giving, trying, ect. I’ve had pretty good luck with my horses staying pretty sharp with just cordeo work after they have been trained awhile, but to start I do like to use a rotating method. I’m also not doing extremely difficult stuff with them, (some flexing, bending, a little collection… basic stuff,) so I can call it quits for the day when they lose focus on me.
EL- Good for you! The best part is you appreciate it, too. Thanks for the encouragement!

There are quite a few people on the East Coast, who are interested in progression of themselves and their horses minus the showing.

You should be able to find your clientele. I would like to caution you though, because some people, who seem “open to alternative ways of riding” are, in reality, just too lazy to actually buckle down and study, study, study various theories as well as practical applications (and this includes proper development of their seat, legs, hands, etc.).

Instead, they look for “majikal” connection, from which collection rises “naturally.”

I would also like to say, I did not understand your note about natural horsemanship that showed you how “soft and easy” horses could be. Do you mean, you cannot actually develop nice and soft horse via dressage? Since, traditionally, dressage is meant to do just that.

I admit, I am starting to feel little overdosed on “natural horsemanship” hype and I did dabble into the phenomenon, too!

On the other hand, I don’t think I could ever get enough decent horsemanship.

Are you sure you are equipped to teach other people to do this? I ask because I have ridden and jumped bridleless extensively. Bridleless riding is part of TTouch and we have a certain way of teaching this to people. But they also must be pretty decent riders to begin with. Most people don’t pursue it much but end up using it as a tool to improve things–at least people who understand it and see the value of it.

It also tends to scare most people. Have you done any exhibitions to show it off to the general public? You might gain interest that way.

Really all you can do is put it out there and see if people respond.

David O’Connor had a video out there demonstrating that he CAN ride bridle-less,
but for competition and everyday schooling I’m sure he tacks up completely.

I don’t think the OP is suggesting she goes hardcore no bridle, but as a way to see where she is in her schooling. An interesting dimension - used by even normal, mainstream GP riders.

I think we all probably know the new wave types who refuse to put a bridle on a horse, refuse to put shoes on them, ride treeless, and jump on every bandwagon…
then preach the gospel to everyone who cannot run fast enough!

[QUOTE=LookmaNohands;7468460]Are you sure you are equipped to teach other people to do this? I ask because I have ridden and jumped bridleless extensively. Bridleless riding is part of TTouch and we have a certain way of teaching this to people. But they also must be pretty decent riders to begin with. Most people don’t pursue it much but end up using it as a tool to improve things–at least people who understand it and see the value of it.

It also tends to scare most people. Have you done any exhibitions to show it off to the general public? You might gain interest that way.

Really all you can do is put it out there and see if people respond.[/QUOTE]

Not necessarily not for beginners.
On the longe line beginners start without reins.:yes:

I had a 9 year boy come that a year before had a bad accident, his horse ran off with him and under the clothesline in their yard and that knocked him off.

I had a very good horse at that time to ride without bridle and, starting on a longe line, then with reins, then knotting the reins and with a string and ending up without anything on his hands, the kid guiding the horse with his body, he got over his fear.
Knowledge and skills is power indeed.:slight_smile:

We ended the lesson playing a bit of broom polo.:lol:

I’m skeptical. You are experimenting, and enjoying your own results. That’s great. So why does that mean you are now capable of being a professional trainer? I’m skeptical because the horse world is full of people who got into some little wrinkle, and then hang their sign out under some blanket description of NH or bridleless or holistic or dynamic or relationship training or communication, you name it, as long as it’s different and compelling marketing. All those things denote some kind of expected quality which may or may not exist. The result is a lot of confused amateurs that are into all kinds of specialties, and fantasies, and have never learned basic riding, and handling skills. And if a rider is experienced enough to ride without a bridle, he probably does not need the training. So it’s amateurs teaching amateurs. Not saying that is you. But that is my knee jerk, oh brother what now,not another one, reaction.

You are skeptical of this person, but liked the way those Dutch boys broke those horses? Really?? :eek::confused:

Yeah, my concern would be that people want you to teach them to ride bitless when they can’t even ride the regular way.

My trainer kind of specializes in bitless riding, but I don’t know how many of her clients are ready to try it. Certainly I’m not.

Way back when, I used to teach word processing, and everyone wanted to take the advanced classes, but they didn’t have the basics in place. Of course we let them take what they wanted, but they didn’t get much out of it. :frowning:

I’d like to make this very, very clear and I hope no one takes offense to it. I have studied dressage principles for years, even before I tried any bitless/ bridleless, (there is a MASSIVE difference.) What prompted me to try this was the horrific way I’ve seen a few riders at shows mangle their horses mouths with double bridles, holding them way back behind the vertical and then stupidly, blindly wondering why the horse eventually goes sour. I did the competitive circuit for years and saw plenty of this. I’m not trying to be Pat Parelli, I actually don’t even like his method, I’m just tired of heavy-handed, uninspired bullies ruining very talented horses. I don’t mind bits, I just mind how brainlessly we, (and I do mean we, I’ve had bad moments too, folks,) use them. I don’t plan to offer this to beginners, as collection and directing concepts are a bit more advanced. I was hoping to pass the idea along to riders with a pretty good foundation who might want to give it a try. As for being a confused amateur teaching other confused amateurs, I could argue that there are a huge number of “mainstream” trainers who haven’t studied and don’t know their stuff. I’ve seen plenty of “trainers” who can’t ride for a pile training other people to ride and handle just as atrociously as they do. It is everywhere that horses and people are… the best you can do is educate yourself and learn from proven principles and actual horse behavior, not some fat old lady yelling at you. I’m not looking to start a cult, I’m looking to show a few people how to mess around safely with a bloody neckrope. Enough said.

I’m sorry, OP - But there’s something about this that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The trouble is, that this is how things start. The snowball is small until it starts down the hill.

You may be an accomplished horse person, and HERE, in this post, you say you only want to teach people who are more advanced, but the title of your post is: Bridleless riding and the general horse public. I’m not going to critique anything. I’m not qualified to do so, but I CAN speak about people in general and how things can go. The General Horse Public is a big and varied place.

People watch YouTube videos of beautiful horses riding bridleless and (at least I hope) think “Man, that’s great, but I’d never be able to do that!” but when Jane Green hears that there are classes down the road she may want to just hang out and see. She will get part, not have any of the needed the background herself, and think she can try. Or she may think “Dang, it must not be that hard!”

Call me a worry-wort, but I’d hate to see this thing, even once, become “Let’s take our horses bridleless down the side of a highway. He’s fine in the arena, and he loves me so much. He wouldn’t hurt me when the semi drives by!”

Call me anything you want, but I’d hate to see any sort of “safety thought” compromised in riding. I think it’s a good thing that bridleless riding seems, to the general public, as a “pie in the sky-never to be attained” ability.

Does anybody replying actually use dressage? I fail to see how checking if a horse can hold himself in collection in the arena has anything to do with riding willy-nilly down the road with a neckrope. This is exactly why I don’t post videos on youtube and why I don’t want a ton of people to see my riding. Forgive me for the title, I just thought that general public sounded simpler than “riders around second- fourth level looking to try a collection exercise with their horse that they haven’t yet and would rather not ride in rolkur frame.” I am not looking to encourage uneducated idiots to find new and creative ways to hurt themselves. They can do that just fine with a bridle on at another barn. To be honest, I’m starting to regret posting this at all. If I had known a bunch of folks would try and put down my life’s work from behind the safety of their keyboards without the courtesy of looking me in the eye, I wouldn’t have put this up in the first place. I was looking for feedback on how to go about taking on a couple of students at my little tiny barn, not to be told I’m some new-age hippy.

“I fail to see how checking if a horse can hold himself in collection in the arena has anything to do with riding willy-nilly down the road with a neckrope. This is exactly why I don’t post videos on youtube and why I don’t want a ton of people to see my riding.”

That doesn’t really makes sense, so I don’t know what you mean here. But, if you want students, you just put up an ad locally, or in print or internet, like everyone else does. Call yourself a trainer. It is that simple. I don’t know what the problem is.
But as soon as you are public, you will be scrutinized, so get use to it. I don’t understand your reluctance to present “your life’s work” in video. If you are proud of what you do, and feel it has value to others, then put it out there. If you are worried about people putting you down, then you don’t want to go public at all.
What I am saying is there are hundreds, probably thousands of riders just like you trying to get some students or horses in training, because they feel they have something to offer that’s different then main stream, and there are plenty of people who want a non mainstream trainer… Except many times its not that different, and has no real substance to it. But its a free market, unregulated horse world here in the US, so just go for it if that’s what you want to do.