Riding Bitless?

So, back to the story from last night.  After Orion had his mini-heart attack over a bush, Chelsea and I headed out.  What I didn't mention last night is that I was attempting to use Chelsea's bitless bridle on Orion.  He still was giving me crap about the bit.  I had managed to get him to take it in under ten minutes one night, which all things considered, was quite a feat.  However, it was apparently a fluke because that never happened again.  So, I knew I still needed to get him over that problem, but in the meantime, I really wanted a real ride and didn't have enough time to work with him that night, so I tried a bitless bridle.

He goes fine in the paddock with a halter and lead rope or halter and reins, and the bitless has a little more control than that, so all should be fine, right?


He did pretty well until we got further out the road.  It took some getting used to on my part to change to short repetitive tugs rather than continuous pressure when I wanted him to turn a certain direction.  A little more leg was required as well, but all in all, he did better than I'd expected.

Until we got to a point where he decided he'd had enough.  We had been trotting for a minute or two, and right when I asked him to go back to a walk, he instead turned very abruptly and sprung into a quicker trot headed back home.


The trot became quicker and quicker and quicker to the point that I thought he was going to pop up into a canter if he increased his speed anymore.

The whole time this was going on, I was pulling back on the reins as much as I could, to no avail.  Bitless bridle be damned, he wasn't listening to it AT ALL.  I tried turning him instead, didn't listen to that either.  My form went to crap as I was doing this because I was concentrating more on what I was doing with him than how I was sitting.  I was still managing to stay on, until I leaned forward slightly to collect my reins more, and at the same time, he dropped his head down.  I had my hands firmly closed on the reins so as not to lose them, but because of that, when he dropped his head, I was pulled forward even more.  That, in addition to his extremely bouncy fast trot and my crappy form sent me onto his neck and from there to the ground.

Well I was pissed.  He stopped as soon as my butt left the saddle and waited for me to jump back up, but then he wouldn't stay where I put him long enough for me to mount back up.  I was mad at myself and him, I was sore (but not seriously injured - only had a couple scrapes), I wasn't tall enough to reach my damn stirrups, and my horse wouldn't stay next to the friggin' bank I was trying to mount from.  Chels ended up getting off Kit and giving me a leg up.

We made the horses go a bit further so Orion wouldn't think he was allowed to get his way after that, and then turned and went back to the barn.  The return trip was uneventful.

Soon afterward I was talking to Liz about going out to see Q and Griffin and asked for her help in fixing Orion's bit problem.  She came out the next day and had him taking it in under 20 minutes.  See the story on that here.

The night after I fell, Orion went from a horse who would play giraffe and avoid taking his bit at all costs, to one who snatches it right out of my hand when he sees it.  Talk about a welcome change!

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