Video: 1988 Bridleless Grand Prix Dressage

After seeing this video from 1988 I had to know more. The video is of Andrew Sałacki, a Polish rider, demonstrating Grand Prix dressage on his mare without a bridle. His ride led to numerous demonstrations around the world for more than three years including performing for the Queen.

I translated the following from this website (that I cannot read) and learned the following:

As reported by the service well known and respected in the equestrian environment not only Polish, 58-year-old Andrew Sałacki is one of the greatest riders in the history of Polish dressage.
In his credits include 12 Polish Championship medals in dressage as well as participation in the World Cup Final struggle in this competition.
Undeniably the maturing permanently in the memory of his demonstration rides were GP class Font mares during the “Horse of the Year show,” which took place at London’s famous Wembley Stadium in 1988.
Polish rider sensation show was the fact that the whole program of the competition he performed GP Fonts walking in deprived bridle.
This has led to so much recognition that Andrew Sałacki was invited to present his show in front of Queen Elizabeth II.
No less impressive looks Sałackiego Andrew coaching achievements. Levada successful club players with sufficient Zakrzow are the showcase. In the years 2000 – 2004 he was the coach of the National Team FEI dressage. He also worked as a training consultant in its crown discipline of dressage (formerly practiced equestrian vaulting and eventing) in Germany and the USA.

How interesting! I wondered what inspired him to do this in 1988? Did he ever try again with another horse? Either way it is a video worth watching.


  1. Anna Savelesky on August 22, 2016 at 8:41 pm

    Dressage is after all, natural movements of the horse, perhaps with the exception of single tempis. The French trainer is lovely. Her horse is a good soul. Their partnership is really emotional to see.

  2. Karolina on March 30, 2015 at 11:24 am

    Upsy… wrong video – junior dressage is here

  3. Karolina on March 30, 2015 at 11:18 am

    Czcionka – the mare from video was 50% folblut. One thing worth mentioning she didn’t have a build most ideal for dressage horse, that’s so common now after 30 years of specialized breeding.
    She started as a racing horse. Quickly moved to jumping from which she was excluded due to injury. Firstly Andrzej Sałacki didn’t have high hopes as she was stiff, high-strung, very sensitive. But she was also very intelligent, light and subtle.
    He always said this was a phenomenal horse – the horse of his life, that riding have was like “joining two hearts into one mind”.
    As for inspiration… one day he realized he was riding on long rein and the mare is so sensitive she performs dressage figures.He asked himself what he needs the bridle for? Took it off and that’s how it started…
    Funny story about Andrzej Sałacki and his mare is she didn’t like to be in the spotlight – literally! Once while performing bridle-less the light operator focused spotlight circle on them and the mare started running from it for hole performance 🙂

    Last year the I National bride-less Championship of Poland took place. Lovely event with both amateurs and sportsmen who put real effort to train their horses. It was so refreshing to watch, can’t wait for second edition this April 😀
    Quite uplifting compared to typical competitions.

    Video of a junior with bridle-less stallion
    Some photos:
    My favourite pics have to be the ones from decoration 🙂
    and pony checking out the competition 😉

  4. Julie on March 9, 2015 at 8:59 am

    I love watching bridleless riding in all disciplines. This example is one of the best. You would also like watching Anna Zbitnoff doing a bridleless dressage demonstration,Luis Lucio-Olympic dressage rider, and then there’s jumping! Alycia Burton or David O’Conner jumping a course bridleless! So much inspiration, I could go on (Karen Rohlfe-Dressage Naturally)…I wonder when it will become an Olympic discipline?! Thank you, Stacy, for setting the bar high and achieving such magnificent work year after year-you are the one rider who brings tears to my eyes.

  5. Marie Birkett (@mariebi) on March 9, 2015 at 5:18 am

    Absolutely brilliant

  6. C.C. Wellman on March 9, 2015 at 12:33 am

    It’s bunny play compared to what you and Roxy did! Not even close!

  7. Kailey on March 8, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    That is incredible!! Didn’t realize people were doing bridleless at that level back then! Thanks for sharing!!

  8. Lexi Art on March 8, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    There is a french dressage rider who is doing this kind of thing, she is the best I have ever seen. She rides bareback and bridleless, her name is Alizée Froment.

  9. L Wendelboe on March 8, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    If you are interested, lots of classical trainers can ride Grand Prix movements without bridle and spurs. A few searches on the internet will yield quite a few riding with a neck ring, some doing the movements with better form and technique than that shown in your posted video. Some of the modern FEI competitors are also capable – Isabell Werth riding retired Satchmo bareback in just a halter –

  10. Tracy Johnson on March 8, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    That dressage was one of the best i have ever seen. Every maneuver was properly addressed and not a foot out of place. The horse and rider have a great trusting relationship which is key to the performance i think. I have always seen Dressage as horses doing ballet. Then i saw Charlotte Desjardin and Valegro If you ever get a chance look her up on Google, I love watching Dressage, i want to train my horse to do that. I have been watching a lot of Dressage to take notes and maybe get a successful run with my Whizz. I also love the Natural Horsemanship aspect of tat particular video you have shared. If you have a great bond with your horse the horse would jump through a ring of fire for you. Figuratively speaking of course I wouldn’t ask my horse to do that anyway. Thank you for sharing the video Stacy. I have one question, how do you have the time to find these great video’s.

  11. Evelyn on March 8, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    I have been preaching this all my life, I was thought dressage in the old european Swiis/German way, where aids , movements and efforts were reduced to nothing while building a strong relationship of respect with the horse. I came to hate Reining because of the brutality of it. I support Stacy Westfall and all natural riders because this has to change, understanding the horse and comunicating with it is the secret to success.

  12. Lisa Halbert on March 8, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Wow, really lovely! And his legs are so long most of his cues are just his lower leg, not spurs. I agree with Marla’s comments above. I’ve heard dressage people say that a horse had to be rounded and collected in order to engage its hindquarters. Someone forgot to tell that to Secretariat! ; o I can’t wait to see you at MI Horse Expo! I take piles of notes at your clinics and rewatch your DVDs for pointers I may have missed . Yes I have Road to the Horse with Popcorn too : )

  13. Rachel B on March 8, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing! I love it! Here is another one that was floating around facebook a while ago.

  14. Lynne on March 8, 2015 at 1:40 pm

    I love watching a good performance & this is a GREAT performance! Left a lump in my throat & it was invigorating to watch. I started out as a western pleasure rider, was introduced to dressage in my teens. Thank goodness by a coach who believed that gadgets, if needed, were only to be used when needed until the horse could think about what’s being asked & then start taking off each piece until you were back down to the basics. We molded my high strung QH (ex barrel racer) into an amazing all rounder in both western pleasure, trails, dressage & voltige before his past caught up with him (DJD in both hocks). I enjoyed riding him without tack as well. Mind you those sliding stops without it (tack) used to give my mother heart attacks. 😉 We’re talking 30 years ago.

  15. Darlene Brabant on March 8, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Yes that is the first thing I did noticed also was the carriage of the head, well done

  16. marla2008 on March 8, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    As someone who has come to hate Dressage with a passion because of the dreaded Rollkür and all abuse associatied with it, this video brought tears to my eyes. What a beautiful thing to see. I looooved the fact that the horse carried it’s head and neck in a *natural* and *functionnal* position, and yet was perfectly able to perform all the needed maneuvers properly and timely. What a great demonstration of how aritficial head and neck carriages are a pure waste of time, energy and effort !!

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