Introducing a Bitless Bridle
It is advisable to introduce the bridle through groundwork, preferably in an enclosed space, at first to familiarise the horse to the action of the bridle. Some horses accept them straight away with no trouble while with others it takes a little longer for them to be comfortable.
Fit the bridle according to the fitting instructions making sure everything is comfortable for the horse.
Start by standing next to the horse’s left shoulder, pick up the left rein and ask the horse to flex their head to the left. As soon as the horse shows the slightest movement, release and praise. Gradually increase this until they bring their head round to you, remember to praise and keep the aids as light as possible. Repeat on the right hand side.
By doing this exercise not only have you familiarised the horse to the lateral action of the bridle but have also started to teach the one rein emergency stop which is a very useful tool for all bridles but an essential one for rope hackamores.
Next progress to long reining in the bitless bridle, use lots of turns, circles and transitions. You could also incorporate polework, a slalom of poles or small jumps to test the turns, transitions and to make it a more interesting experience. Continue with this stage until the horse is happy and confident with the bridle before progressing to ridden work.
When riding in a bitless bridle for the first time, again use turns, circles and transitions in an enclosed space until you and the horse are confident before progressing to hacking, jumping or faster work.
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