going bridle less

Today, I rode without reins. It‘s a great way to test how well you can communicate with your horse using only your seat and legs, not your hands. As there are no reins to fidget with, to adjust in length, to put pressure on, I can focus on the other parts of my body and how they feel. It raises the awareness of the horse‘s movements too. 
As an emergency brake I use a string around my horse‘s neck, and I also use a stick (in case I need to steer the nose, when Paledo doesn‘t follow my seat). The good thing about the stick is that you can stay centered and balanced in the saddle and still be able to correct the horse. 

It felt like my horse was a bit insecure about having no connection to my hands, it took him a while to relax, lower his head and blow out. But I am quite sure that he will enjoy it as soon as he gets used to it. He doesn't like confinement and no bridle gives him more freedom.

bridle, bit, horse, beingwithorses
No bit, no bridle
Though it is a good check of your partnership with your horse, it's vital to get the preparation right. You don't want to sit on a horse with no bridle when he decides to go on a dead run.

So, for me the prerequisites for bridle less riding are:
1. Your relationship must be beyond control issues. If you are not able to stop your horse with reins, you better not try it without them. I established that breathing out deeply means slow down for the horse. 
2. To prepare, ride without touching the reins. That will show you clearly where you are at. You shouldn't need the reins for steering (they are not made for it anyway) and the horse should follow the direction you suggest with your body. 
3. Start in a small, confined area. We rode in the arena today and that felt great. But I am not sure I want to go bridle less on a trail ride. If I planned to, I would start with what I wrote under 2: simulating I had no reins and see how it went. 

What are your bridle less experiences?

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