Bridleless Progress

Bridleless Progress

About a year ago, I started riding Simon bridleless. By started, I mean we had gotten far enough in our training that I could canter around the ring without a bridle. I know this isn’t exactly horse voodoo magic, but it’s something I had never accomplished with any other equine partner before.

Photo by Heather F

The reason I like riding without a bridle is that it forces me to identify my weaknesses. When I get tired, I like to lean on the reins but guess what — you can’t lean on reins that aren’t there! It really makes me use my core throughout my entire ride instead of depending on lazy habits.

Photo by Heather F

If I’m not preparing for a show, I drop my bridle about once a week. Sometimes I ride with just my bareback pad although this is a work in progress, because I need to strengthen my core a lot before I can do more than a tiny amount of canter. Other times I’ll keep the saddle and see how much real work we can get done sans bridle.

Photo by Heather F

Last weekend I was in the mood for a fun lesson before my big trip. I asked my trainer if she was okay with me doing a lesson with my neck rope, and she said that was fine.

Photo by Heather F

GUYS! SO MUCH FUN!

Photo by Heather F

Even though I’ve jumped around small courses without my bridle before, I wasn’t sure how Simon would react in a group lesson where he’s usually a little bit more super charged… but he was perfect. Baby angel perfect.

Photo by Heather F

Warming up, his flatting was pretty standard for him. We had a hard time doing bend and counter bend without bridle (I could get counter bend okay, but not a great inside bend on a straight-a-way) and I need to go back and reinforce backing in a straight line on my own time, but there was simple lateral work and better canter to trot transitions than he has with a bridle.

Photo by Heather F

When it came to jumping, I wish there was video. He was amazing. We jumped normal courses with bending lines and big roll backs with no issues. Simple changes were a little less precise, but I can work on that. The only thing I wasn’t able to accomplish was when my trainer wanted us to canter into a line, halt, and trot out. I didn’t feel like I had enough brakes to halt in the middle of the line, so that’s something I’m going to work with him on outside of a lesson. I think we can do it, but I need to get sharper about my canter halts after jumps.

Photo by Heather F

I think this is something I may try to mix into my normal routine. It’s fun, Simon likes it and if I’m being honest — my inner horse whisperer is pretty damn tickled at herself.

26 thoughts on “Bridleless Progress

  1. This is ah-mazing! You guys look great! And I admit I am so jelly that I wasn’t able to try this with Foster- what a great relationship building exercise for you guys!

  2. You are my hero. I really need to try riding bridle-less (in a ring, duh). Jumping though it just downright badass!

  3. His face is sooooo cute in these photos! You can just hear the “this is so fun, I’m such a good boy” inner monologue.

  4. Do you find the bareback pad gives you more stick or at least a little extra confidence? I find I slide backwards when I ride bareback. What kind do you use? Y’all look awesome together! I hope my pony and I can get to that point some day!

    1. Yes! Huge, huge, huge difference to no bareback pad at all. With sitting trot I often forget I don’t have a saddle, and with the canter it gives me the boost of confidence I need. I use a Thinline Bareback pad which isn’t super cheap, but well worth the purchase imo because it helps with shock absorption for your horse.

      1. Thank you SO so much for your detailed reply! I’ve been on the hunt for a good bareback pad for a couple of years, now, but I don’t know anyone who uses one that can give me a good recommendation. Off to the Thinline website! thanks, again!

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