How we roll lately
Since I decided that this winter would be the time that I finally, for real, trained Dino to go bridleless, the whole thing has been going shockingly well! Once or twice a week I swing on with just a neck rope, and both Dino and I have really been enjoying this new challenge.

The first few rides were eye-opening to say the least. I naively thought this whole process would be a lot easier than it turned out to be, since Dino's favorite movement is "halt" and I ride him on the buckle in all situations quite a lot. But as I mentioned in my previous post, once I removed even the possibility of a rein aid reinforcement, things got tricky. At times I think I'm being very clear about my "turn" or "stop" aids, and they just aren't going through without the help of a bridle, or Dino chooses to ignore them because it's much, much easier for him to just make a beeline for the arena door instead of to make the circle or serpentine I'm asking for, which caused me to start to contort my body in very unhelpful ways in an attempt to try and get my point across.

And sometimes we get to start our sessions with liberty work! And this new helmet that I LURRRVE.
This prompted me to ditch my saddle pretty early on. Without the saddle to brace against, I'm forced to remain centered on Dino's back and to stay fairly straight in my seat. I can't turn my body into a pretzel as easily, and I can better feel what Dino's body is doing to correct him before he starts bulldozing though my aids and heading towards his buddies in the ring. For the first couple weeks, I also rode with a halter in addition to the neck rope. When my turning aids weren't quite connecting, it was helpful for me to reach up and grab the halter to pull Dino's head to whichever side I needed it to be, and it definitely saved me from a few collisions! It helped clarify things for him, and honestly helped made me feel more secure as I got used to riding with no equipment. But I didn't want to make a habit of leaning forward to grab the halter, so I ditched that, too.

Teaching Dino to go bridleless has involved just a lot of good old-fashioned practice, and it's been beneficial for both of us. My goal is to eventually have him so tuned-in to my seat aids that the neck rope is just a subtle reinforcement, but for now I have to be pretty loud with the rope at times to communicate what I want. We work on really basic things like turning, circles, and riding to specific points in the arena at the walk and trot. It's made me realize that I'm often NOT precise AT ALL about directing Dino to where I want him to go, and it's opened up that gaping hole in my own training! But when you've just got a neck rope, precision gets a lot harder, and it's been fun to step up to the challenge of riding right to the letters, or all the way into a corner, or to any arbitrary point in the ring. The other night we spend a good bit of our ride just working on riding all the way into a corner of the arena (like nose-on-the-mirror all the way in) before turning. While it took several repetitions, Dino figured out what I wanted and we were able to end the ride with that very precise movement.

He really thinks he's very attractive. He isn't wrong. 
The turning aids are fairly confirmed at the walk and trot when I've been consistently practicing twice a week, and less so when I let our bridleless training sessions lapse. They are all but non-existent at the canter, but WE CANTER BAREBACK AND BRIDLELESS and that's accomplishment enough for me right now! I catch myself laughing and grinning more often than not with this work, and that alone is a great reason to keep on plugging away at it.

I hope to get some video and pictures soon so you all can see just how much fun we've been having riding "naked"!


  1. How fun and what a great way to work on improving your riding and communication!

  2. this is so cool, and definitely one of my goals for spicy!

  3. That's awesome! I thought it was kinda neat reading about it with your last few posts, but didn't really have any interest in trying it myself (omg we're going to DIE!) And then I went to a couple of lectures with Dr Angelo Telatin and now totally want to try it! Def not up to cantering naked yet...but that is SO COOL! Go you!

  4. This is SO fun! I wish I could learn how to do this some day!

  5. It's very cool that you and Dino are doing this :)

  6. That's so fun, and what a great way to have fun together while still doing work. I'm not brave enough to ditch my bridle, but maybe someday on the right horse.


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