Bridle-less riding reveals the level of understanding.

Twenty years ago, I competed bridle-less for the first time.
Ten years before that, I made my first attempt at it.

Both times, I failed.
Failed to communicate clearly.
Failed to prepare properly.
And failed to achieve what I had set out to do.
As a teen, this resulted in riding a flat out run away at top speed.
Ten years later, it resulted in going off pattern in my class.

Still, despite the failures, I was still fascinated with the idea of bridle-less riding.
For years, I credited this bridleless desire to the imagery of Walter Farley’s, The Black Stallion, books and movie.
But thirty years, and hundreds of bridleless rides later, I know what it really is.

Bridle-less riding reveals the level of understanding.
The horses understanding.
The riders understanding.
And the understanding between the two.

I remember the first time I was able to put this into words.
I was riding at a horse expo, with hundreds of people watching. 
I began the demo, showing the cues I teach using with the bridle on.
I explained the process I used…and then I leaned forward and pulled the bridle off.

The shift in the air was palpable.

People sat up straighter, leaned in closer, and watched more intently.

And that is when I realized…taking off the bridle changed THEIR perception of what was happening.

But here is the reality.

NOTHING CHANGED for my horse.

Pulling the bridle off revealed to those who were watching, what my horse and I already knew. We understood each other.

The understanding had been built, layer upon layer, and the moment I removed the bridle…changed nothing for us.

But it changed everything for those watching.

This year marks twenty years since my first bridleless freestyle.

I learned a lot before that point to get me there.
And I’ve learned even more from that point until now.

This week, I’ll be sharing some of that knowledge with you.

Bridle-less riding represents a high level of communication between horse and rider.
That communication is built through consistency and understanding.

These are the things that will improve your communication with your horse, regardless of what tools you choose to use.

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