The steering of a horse takes place by giving cues. Cues consist of the application of pressure on particular parts of the horse and the release of pressure after receiving the desired reaction. During riding pressure can be applied with the legs, the weight of the rider, through contact with the reins, bridle, bit, etc. Of course the role of pressure can in some cases be performed by certain voice commands.
The better trained the horse is, the less pressure is required for the horse works with ease. This way it is possible to apply pressure through contact with the head, without the use of a bit in the mouth of the horse – to ride bridleless. There are different variants of this kind of control over the horse’s body.
- One variant is riding with a halter. In this case the reins are attached to the halter.
- It is also possible to use a bosal (used by cowboys, vaqueros, etc.) – a band, usually made of braided rawhide, which fits over the nose of the horse, the ends of which are connected under the chin of the horse in a heavy knot. The use of a bosal allows complete lack of pressure on the head, except for when a cue is given. Then the pressure is applied on the nose and the jaw of the horse.
- The other option is to ride without the reins and even without a halter. This kind of riding can be assisted by the use of certain tools – a rope around the neck of the horse (cordeo), which during its relaxed state hangs loosely on the chest of the animal or a stick (handy stick, carrot stick etc.). They are used to give the desired direction – straight ahead, stop, backwards, to the right, to the left, sidepass. Here the control over the horse is exercised mostly through the use of legs and body weight of the rider.
As an end product the rider can control the horse using only legs and body weight at all gaits and on any terrain. Not every horse and not every rider is prepared for this type of riding. It requires a lot of work from both of them. It is important to keep in mind the risk hidden in a wrong assessment of the skills of the rider or the horse. An inexperienced rider can very quickly allow the horse to understand that in reality he is almost out of control and a horse that is not well-trained would easily defy further attempts to control it.
Careful and sound judgment is of great importance in this case. If someone decides to ride his horse with just a halter on (or without it) and obtains a good result in a regular setting for the horse, while the horse performs regular tasks, this does not mean that the horse is obedient during riding with a halter (or without it). In unusual situations and setting there might be a complete lack of obedience.
At Adgor riding stable you have a possibility to learn to ride bridleless. But you have to keep in mind that you’ve got a long way to go.