What's The Worst That Could Happen?
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Well, the worst that could happen is that he a.) trots away with me at full speed, and b.) realizes I can't pull his head up, and just plants his feet and starts stuffing his face.
Don't try and ride your highly-intelligent pony bridleless for the first time in an unfenced area full of tasty, tasty grass, kids.
But this year we have an indoor arena and one pony who is already SUPER SICK OF IT, so that calls for some creative training ideas. Enter Alli's Legit Bridleless Training Program, For Real This Time, which starts with just taking off the bridle and throwing a stirrup leather around my pony's neck and seeing how it goes. Because really, what's the worst that could happen? We're inside, the footing isn't edible, and it's a short fall to the ground when your steed is only 14.1.
Turns out that when you do this in an appropriate environment, the worst that can happen is losing brakes or steering for a few moments at a time, and that's about it.
Fortunately for us, another fellow border who happens to have had actually trained her horse to go bridleless was also riding at the same time, and she helped us out a ton and even let me use her vastly-superior neck rope! With some friendly guidance, Dino and I were able to make several circles, turns, and changes of direction at the walk, worked on halting off the seat (treats helped), and trotted a little bit. It was good to engage both our brains in a little bit of a different way, and I only got cranky ears from Dino a few times instead of for 75% of the ride. Success!!
It was interesting to me that things that I assumed that Dino knew how to do primarily off the seat (turning, stopping) posed difficulty when there were no rein aids to back them up. Once I took even the possibility of a rein aid out of the equation, it was as if Dino wasn't entirely sure what I meant. He spent a lot of time flicking his ears back and forth, trying to figure out what I was asking. I think working on bridleless training is going to help me a lot with being very precise about the full release of my aids, as well as get Dino super tuned in to my seat and leg.
This is going to be fun!