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View Full Version : spinoff from OffCourse rope riding halter...



Marengo
Dec. 20, 2010, 04:06 PM
Since I'm a dressage rider I'd like to hear other dressage riders' opinions on this. Riding in a rope riding halter is very popular where I am and its the first time I've encountered this before. Please excuse my ignorance on this subject but I just have to ask, how is riding in a rope riding halter not extremely dangerous?

I understand the whole I hopped on my horse bareback while catching him in the back 40 and rode him to the barn with only a lead rope and halter. While not exactly safe you're really only endangering yourself. What about people riding in an arena with other riders using a rope riding halter in place of a bridle? What about doing this on the trail that is frequented by other riders? Or what about those who start their youngsters in a rope riding halter?

A hackamore bridle that some jumper Olympians use exerts real pressure on a horse, I believe you do have brakes but I'm questioning the affect the knots of the rope riding halter will have on pressure points. I'm sure that many horses can be trained to a high level so they respond to weight aids only and don't need any sort of bridle but it doesn't mean you never need breaks. What if a dirt bike comes flying around the next corner out on the trail? The unexpected sometimes happens and horses are flight animals.

When discussing this with rope riding halter enthusiasts the answer I often get to my concerns is 'riding is a dangerous sport, stuff happens but thats life you can't go around worrying about everything'. To me it doesn't make sense. Plus I've yet to see one of these riders without a helmet, seems the same argument could be made for not wearing a helmet too.

What do you guys think? Am I totally living in the dark ages and have yet to see the wisdom of riding in a rope halter? Are there any dressage riders schooling at home this way and is a legal way to show?

katarine
Dec. 20, 2010, 04:19 PM
Ride a better trained horse :)

Any of mine could readily be ridden in one, they whoa off the seat more than the face anyway, and turning is ...turning- use the body and the face. Sure.

I don't do it, as it's not conducive to helping a horse reach into contact...that hard thin rope and knots means get back off the halter. I do ride my TWH in a sidepull a good bit for trail riding, to clue him in to the fact I'm going to throw the reins his way and ask him to relax and let his hair down.

The rest of your posting sounds like you haven't been riding very long or maybe too long in the arena only :) Remember, it took a line of police horses to help Anky when Salinero got wired up and upset- a double bridle wasn't enough to hold him back and direct him safely. She needed help regardless of two bits in his mouth. Not intending that as a slam, just a fact.


No it's not legal for showing.

Marengo
Dec. 20, 2010, 04:40 PM
Ouch. You're assumption that I haven't been riding isn't correct. Also I ride off my seat and my horse also hacks on the buckle. Don't assume that I'm hanging off the bit because I asked if riding in a riding halter is safe. I genuinely want to know if its safe for everyone if horses are ridden in one of these. You telling me your horse goes fine in one doesn't convince me. Tell me about a scenario beyond your control where your horse got spooked and you brought him back to calm using one and that will help.

Alianna
Dec. 20, 2010, 04:40 PM
No you are totally NOT living in the dark ages...finally someone with a brain. I get SO angry when I see this. There is no concern for anyones safety, including their own.

I was actually at an event this past year where a girl was leading her horse all over the grounds with a DOG COLLAR on the horses neck...like where a cribbing strap would be, and a leash. Thats all....no form of control whatsoever. I was fuming everytime I saw her and felt she should have been eliminated from the event for it. I just stayed away and told my students to do the same.

All you need to do is visit any of the other forums where that Parelli garbage is mentioned and see where this stupidity begins. The absolute rubbish they are putting in peoples heads is astounding...and they are making millions of dollars doing it. I mean, do you know that in some place in their training method, they tell people to walk along behind the horse pulling on its tail? Really???....I don't know about you, but my common sense (and years of being told not to be behind the horse) tells me that this is a BAD idea. That, among many other gems of wisdom, is being pushed at unknowing people as correct handling of horses.

Kuddos to you...use your head...it is refreshing to see that I am not alone out there!

Equibrit
Dec. 20, 2010, 04:47 PM
It doesn't have anything much to do with dressage.

Alianna
Dec. 20, 2010, 04:48 PM
Oh...BTW...to ward off all assumptions...I am a trainer, I have competed at Dressage and Eventing for about 30 years, have trained every sort of horse to do dressage or jump over the years. I ride very lightly, and have educated hands and a good seat. I COULD ride my horses in a halter AT HOME if I chose ALONE in the arena, however I choose not to as I see no reason for wasting time with foolishness. Riding in company of others in a halter is just plain irresponsible as you have NO control whatsoever. I understand you can loose control in a bridle, but the fact is that at least you have SOME control in a bad situation.

katarine
Dec. 20, 2010, 04:52 PM
Ouch. You're assumption that I haven't been riding isn't correct. Also I ride off my seat and my horse also hacks on the buckle. Don't assume that I'm hanging off the bit because I asked if riding in a riding halter is safe. I genuinely want to know if its safe for everyone if horses are ridden in one of these. You telling me your horse goes fine in one doesn't convince me. Tell me about a scenario beyond your control where your horse got spooked and you brought him back to calm using one and that will help.


Mercy I meant it in a jovial, joking fashion. I'm sorry you took it so wrong. Hardly my intent.

It is safe if the horse is trained to it and the rider knows how to ride. I feel it is entirely safe, sure.

A gal I compete against, and have for several years, competes her paint mare in trail obstacle competitions solely in a rope halter. Solely. So we're talking everything from full gallop down out in the great wide open to tiny micro managed maneuvers, that mare's never taken a scary step that I've witnessed, nor has she ever reported one. The most recent competition was a blustery, cold winter day, that mare was fine and safe as houses. But it doesn't count I suppose b/c I wasn't riding her, does it?

I don't have a single instance where I felt I was bear bait or somesuch and my horse careened out of control and the rope halter I was riding in, saved my bacon.

You don't genuinely want anything other than wholehearted agreement. This is a dressage board, you'll find it, I'm sure. And since it's not legal for showing, it surely has nothing to do with dressage.

Grumpy grump grumps LOL

Marengo
Dec. 20, 2010, 04:53 PM
In addition to wondering if rope riding halters are safe I was wondering if anyone schools dressage stuff at home in them.

monstrpony
Dec. 20, 2010, 05:06 PM
Yes and yes.

My horses are developed, as katarine suggests, to respond the same way to a rope halter as yours do to a bit. They're 1200 lb animals; very little we do to them controls them by force. If you feel you are "safer" because there is a bit in your horse's mouth, it is only an illusion based on the habit you are used to and most comfortable with. But it's still an illusion.

And, yes, dressage still forms the basis of my horses' gymnastic development--in a rope halter, in a snaffle, in bosal hackamore ... and in a bridle bit.

shawneeAcres
Dec. 20, 2010, 05:06 PM
I have two "opinions" on this. The first is in relationship to dressage, I do not think that riding a dressage horse in any kind of "bitless" bridle should be acceptable altho many people want to compete in them. Dressage is built around the premise of "acceptance of the bit", and is traditionally ridden in a bit. Second, I do not find riding in a rope halter any more or less dangerous than any other "headgear" if the horse is training to it. I start all of my youngsters first driving in a rope halter, then combining the rope halter with a bit for both driving and riding, and finally transitioning over to just a bit. Many western horses are taught to ride with just a side pull (nothing more than a rope halter really), a bosal etc. I don't see the correlation between this and "dangerous".

Eklecktika
Dec. 20, 2010, 05:33 PM
How, exactly, is riding in a rope halter that much different than riding in a bosal? Either rawhide or rope?

I still prefer to start my western horses in a bosal-saves the mouth until they're ready for a snaffle. If something bad happens, things get real simple, real quick-pull the horses head around and find a circle to get control. With no bit in his mouth, you're more able to get serious about pulling them around, and not worry about cutting a tongue. Take away the run, and don't let them get their head down to buck, there's not really a whole lot they can do, as long as 'UP' isn't in the vocabulary (not that a bit will stop that from happening...)

It doesn't matter what you have on their head or in their mouth unless it's absolutely brutal-if a horse isn't listening, it isn't listening. A hackamore horse can be light as a feather in a bosal, but put a snaffle in their mouth, you're back to square one. Same with a snaffle horse-put a curb in, they're lost as can be until they figure it out. I guarantee you, take a dressage horse and put a low ported reining bit in their mouth, they'll be confused and not listening to anything but weight and legs, because that's what they know. And when a horse gets excited, weight and legs don't mean much.

Feeling that you are more 'in control' because of what's in the mouth is based in the notion of more bit=better...not submission to the rider. Submission is submission.

ETA: Xposted with a whole bunch of folks. Guess that's what happens when I'm on CoTH at work!

RLF
Dec. 20, 2010, 08:41 PM
My opinion, FWIW, Rope halter riding doesn't have a place in dressage training per se, you can't show in one- so what's the point? As other's have said, it's hard to accept the bit when there isn't one...lol THOUGH I have used halters or bitless means on horses who are overly sensitive and suck back from the bit.

BUT I personally love hacking out in my old guy's leather halter and a lead rope... It has it's place...and is AS SAFE as the horse in general. There are some horses I wouldn't ride in a halter, and in fact, don't ride anyone except for this one guy.

A related antidote- I once trailered to a park to go for a trail ride with some friends...and I was - as normal- running late. I pulled in, got him off the trailer and opened the tack room door... BIG OOPS! I forgot all my tack! No saddle, no bridle, nothing... I ended up doing a 3 hour ride bareback with only his halter. NOT ONCE did I feel like I had any less control that I normally did...actually the bareback complimented it because I could really feel him! ANYWAY- my point is - it's like everything else, it just depends.

=)

spirithorse
Dec. 20, 2010, 09:24 PM
The first is in relationship to dressage, I do not think that riding a dressage horse in any kind of "bitless" bridle should be acceptable altho many people want to compete in them. Dressage is built around the premise of "acceptance of the bit", and is traditionally ridden in a bit.

Any piece of head gear that can get a horse into the required frame should be allowed in dressage, if they have control!

I do not believe rope halters give sufficient control when used by a new rider or a rider uneducated in emergency stopping.

That being said, once again, the phrase on the bit is misrepresented.

"ON THE BIT" does not describe anything to do with the bit, it describes the position of the head and neck relative to the collection relative to the stage of training and acceptance of the bridle NOT bit.

Article 401
5. In all the work, even at the halt, the horse must be “on the bit”. A horse is said to be “on the bit” when the neck is more or less raised and arched according to the stage of training and the extension or collection of the pace accepting the "bridle" with a light and consistent soft submissive contact. The head should remain in a steady position, as a rule slightly in front of the vertical, with a supple poll as the highest point of the neck, and no resistance should be offered to the athlete

Equibrit
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:12 PM
What nonsense. What is there to "accept" from a bridle if not the bit. The word bridle in this instance is used to describe metal and leather parts. If not there would be very little point in having any leather on the horse's head, or a rein in the rider's hand.

katarine
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:13 PM
the bagel. the horse must accept the bagel.

spirithorse
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:16 PM
bridle - - headgear governing a horse

mjmvet
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:19 PM
How well trained a horse you have is not dependent on the type of headgear. Rope halter users use it for cueing the horse just the way bit users use the bit to cue the horse. Neither is a sure fire way to control a horse. Neither is a reason to get ones panties in a bunch. Why the hate?

Eklecktika
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:23 PM
What nonsense. What is there to "accept" from a bridle if not the bit.

Is it really the bit the horse is accepting? Or is the the restriction of energy produced by the hind legs? What about a bosal, perhaps? Just saying...it IS possible.

Playing devil's advocate here, but by that argument, a bosal horse would never be 'on the bit'.

Whilst they aren't technically 'on the bit' because there IS no bit, one can't correctly argue that a bosal horse can't be submissive to the rein aids, and working through the back, which, if I'm not mistaken, is really what is meant by the term 'on the bit.'

Or is my understanding of the term 'on the bit' incorrect? How? What would be a better definition of the term?

Equibrit
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:25 PM
bridle - - headgear governing a horse




Which includes a bit as described extensively in the rules that you chose not to quote. Dressage is not about bosals.

eponacowgirl
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:41 PM
Goodness!

I was the OP regarding rope riding halters.

I have several horses on the farm I hack for exercise in just their halters, including my novice level eventer, all over 650 acres of wild animals, tall grass, the occasional truck or tractor passing thru, and I have just as much control of then in the halter as I do a bridle.

They take off in a halter and I pull their head around or ask them to stop.

They take off in a snaffle and I pull their head around and ask them to stop.

It doesn't vary much.

Reddfox
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:49 PM
Any piece of head gear that can get a horse into the required frame should be allowed in dressage, if they have control!

I wasn't aware that "headgear" was what gets the horse into frame. :confused:

Eklecktika
Dec. 20, 2010, 10:54 PM
:rolleyes:Jeez, EQ, not sure who peed in your dinnerbowl this evening, but snark doesn't qualify as an answer. Did I somehow imply that bosals should be used in dressage?

I posed a technical question, actually intended to be rhetorical, pointing out that the physical BIT itself wasn't what was being accepted. Otherwise, every two year old with a chifney snapped to his halter would be 'on the bit'.;) The obvious implication of the question was whether it was possible to be 'on the bit' without one.

Fact is, though, it doesn't matter WHAT you have on his head-On the bit is a measure of submission. You want to compete, yes, you play by the rules. I wasn't arguing that fact. I was calling into question the accuracy of YOUR statement.

Bosals, bits, hackamores, halters, whatever. If a person wants to use a chunk of twine in a bridle reminiscent of Samsung Woodstock to ride PSG, Who. Cares?

I'm pretty sure Dressage is about training, not headgear. And if they want to do it in a rope halter and bareback, it's entirely up to them.

Arrows Endure
Dec. 20, 2010, 11:13 PM
I ride my horse in a rope halter quite frequently. He is quiet, calm, relaxed, and forward when wearing his halter. The same as he is in a bridle with a bit. He goes faster than I want, I sit and ask him to slow down. And he does.

I've ridden him on trail rides, in the arena, hacking around the property, and once on a group ride in Fairhill, all in a rope halter. He's not been a problem, ever.

It all depends on the horse, and what he's trained to do. For the record, I would have NEVER ridden my old horse in a halter anywhere. I would have ended up going WAY too fast and most likely in a direction I didn't want to go. He wasn't as well trained.....

Equibrit
Dec. 21, 2010, 03:55 PM
:rolleyes:Jeez, EQ, not sure who peed in your dinnerbowl this evening, but snark doesn't qualify as an answer. Did I somehow imply that bosals should be used in dressage?



Please explain how a statement of fact qualifies as "snark".

Equibrit
Dec. 21, 2010, 03:57 PM
I wasn't aware that "headgear" was what gets the horse into frame. :confused:

Frames go around windows and pictures.

Equibrit
Dec. 21, 2010, 03:58 PM
:rolleyes:
I posed a technical question, actually intended to be rhetorical, pointing out that the physical BIT itself wasn't what was being accepted. Otherwise, every two year old with a chifney snapped to his halter would be 'on the bit'.;)


This logic defies reason.

VanEq
Dec. 21, 2010, 05:01 PM
I've been riding dressage for more than 20 years, and I still start all my babies in a rope halter. Trust me, those knots on the nose DO make a horse pay attention-- better than those leather hackamore things the jumpers sometimes ride in. Once a horse learns to go forward and that when I ask him to turn I mean turn your WHOLE BODY (not just turn your head and keep going forward), I graduate to a bit. IMO, it's a far gentler way to start a horse and save wear and tear on their mouths, keeping the whole situation a safe and encouraging thing for the horse.

Once they are "broke" I don't ride in them anymore, but in no way would I consider it dangerous if someone in the arena with me was riding in one.

adelmo95
Dec. 21, 2010, 06:42 PM
I have never ridden in a rope halter however am in the process of "kid proofing" a pony of mine and have jumped on her bareback with just her leather halter on. I have never felt that we posed any sort of risk to others riding in the arena, I have complete control of the direction that we are going in, she has a good whoa and is very responsive to the seat and leg. She is not a spooky type and even if she was going to spook she would easily be brought back under control with just her halter on. Do I feel that riding her in the halter is going to further her dressage work? NO! But do I feel that it is hindering her progress in becoming a dressage pony to have easy days where she learns about being a kids pony? NO! In addition to dressage she also jumps and hacks out for some cross training, I feel that all of this is great for the mind and body.

I also had a hanoverian gelding who I had to ride in a leather hackamore (It was one that was just a leather noseband with rings to attach the reins to so no added leverage) for a while because he cut the corner of his mouth and could not wear a bit until it healed. He was a pretty big powerful horse that liked to show off but was also well schooled by the time I did this so was light and responsive to the aides. I took him into the warm - up rings at Spruce Meadows during one of the major tournaments to school like this and was not in the slightest bit concerned about whether I had control over my horse: he was far better controlled than some of the other horses schooling in fairly major bits.

I am not saying that every horse should be ridden in a halter, but if they are well enough schooled I do not see a safety issue with it.

slight
Dec. 21, 2010, 07:04 PM
Of my three horses I am comfortable riding only one in a halter; I do feel that I have control. I only do this at home around my farm.
I like riding bareback and in a halter (on the horse, not me ,ha!). I still work on lateral movements, bending, etc. I feel this helps me use my seat better and gets me back to some "basics."
He is a gooooood horse! (He also is comfortable to ride bareback, a consideration!)

GallantGesture
Dec. 21, 2010, 11:48 PM
I ride one of my horses occasionally bareback with just a regular halter on him. I have more control of my horse this way than most other people in the arena have over their horses with saddles/bridles/bits. It's all about training. With my horse in just a halter we can walk, trot, canter, do lateral work, whoa, back, free walk, stretchy trot, etc just like we can in normal dressage tack. I don't feel like I am furthering his dressage training by riding him this way, but it is fun and I do feel like it is good for my seat. I also feel that it is fun for him, and builds our partnership, and lets me ride him on days that I otherwise might not (too cold or not enough time for a full groom, tack, and work routine). I know the horse though (I've ridden him for over 7 years, and trained him from right off the track) and I know the limits... I would not ride him out on a trail in just a halter! My 4 year old I've only had for 2 months, and although he is amazing for where he is at training-wise, I would not get on him either bareback or with a halter instead of a bridle, because the training just isn't there yet... even though he'd PROBABLY be fine, I just wouldn't be sure enough of it to feel safe risking myself or other riders that way.

So in general, I think riding in a halter may offer a little less control than a bit (although a rope halter would give more than the regular nylon one I use), but assuming the horse is trained to respond to the halter and/or seat aids and the rider rides well enough to use the seat aids, the rider still has plenty of control over the horse and can ride safely this way. I also don't feel that riding in a halter is productive dressage training or constitutes "on the bit" riding, but the "dressage" type benefits may be for the rider developing feel and not being able to rely on the bit.

yellow-horse
Dec. 22, 2010, 02:33 AM
I rarely post in dressage but I ride with a rope halter or a bit, either way the horses can be ridden in either one. I had one dear old horse that could multi task well, I rode her in endurance and hunter trials and paces in her halter, if I was just doing a jumping round, i did it in the halter, if i competed in dressage where a bit is required i used a bit.This particular horse coud piaffe and passage in her rope halter, she was extremely light and round no matter what you had on her face. I rode her along trails that had railroad tracks and trains,rode her next to runways with planes taking off.Once I was with a group, all bitted horses and mine in the rope halter when one of them stepped in a ground hornet nest, i was the only person still on horseback and while everyone bolted i rode mine out of the area with control.

I have been on some rides where i have shown up to ride in a group with the halter and people have been overly concerned about my horse being in control, it is unwarranted, I could give countless examples of times when every horse with a bit was bolting and mine wasn't. I have a horse now who was not cared for for years and she has mouth issues, she is very happy in the rope halter and very much under control.

My own opinion is while rude out of control horses are a pia, ultimately i have to be able to control my own horse, so i would not be concerned about what tack the horse had on but how it behaved.I also think there is a huge difference between jumping on bareback and walking up to the barn and the horse being trained to respond to a rope halter.

katarine
Dec. 22, 2010, 10:57 AM
There are collars made for highlining or picketing horses. Wide, stout collars so they don't have to negotiate a halter and lead rope all night. I agree that using such a thing to lead one around the grounds is foolish. You need the face, not the neck, in the event of a wreck.

Petstorejunkie
Dec. 22, 2010, 02:36 PM
I am a dressage rider, and I own a horse that competes in dressage and does well.
First, I'd like to point out that when someone feels they have less control with a halter or cordeo, or that it's more dangerous, more likely this person has a false sense of security in a bitted bridle. *Ahem* there is no such thing as control over a horse, only cooperation. A horse can run away with any rider in any tack. Conditioned response is still cooperation, not control.

Now, if I ride my horse in a halter or cordeo (neck rope), I am certainly not daft enough to call it dressage despite that being the most common title I give both my horse and I.

spirithorse
Dec. 22, 2010, 02:57 PM
*Ahem* there is no such thing as control over a horse, only cooperation. A horse can run away with any rider in any tack.

*AHEM*
It is a documented fact that racing TB's that were runaways, could not runaway in the SB bridle. That is because SB causes the horse to break from the hindquarter and not the forehand.
Now I will state unequivically that in other bitless 'tack' there have been documented runaways.

millerra
Dec. 22, 2010, 03:00 PM
IMHO - control is an illusion in that if a horse truly wishes to "leave the scene" - they can, regardless of what the rider does or has/doesn't have in the mouth.

However, when a horse is "in the decision making process", something that has a little more "bite" is more likely to get the horse's attention and allow the rider to redirect.

A rope halter or bosal has a more severity than a plan old halter. Hence, IMHO a rope halter is more safe than a plain old halter. It is a matter of obedience and getting their attention. I teach my babies to lunge in rope halter because it gets their attention whereas it is easy for them to bully through a plain ol' halter (no "bite"). When they decide that leading is for "other horses" a chain over their nose quickly makes them relearn their manners. The question is how much leverage do you need to get them to pay attention and listen when perhaps they really don't want to.... and chose your gear accordingly.

again, JMHO

Marengo
Dec. 22, 2010, 03:02 PM
A lot of you seem to be saying that on your specific horses riding in a rope halter is perfectly safe as your horse is trained. The problem is this is a judgement call made by you. Who knows maybe everyone who has responded here has excellent judgement of their horses but what happens when a less experienced rider sees you riding around in a rope halter. They might think their horse is trained enough too and they also might be motivated to ride their horse is a way thats more 'natural'. A lot of you are saying that there's no more control with a bitted bridle than a rope riding halter. I"m sorry but thats just plain incorrect. The inexperienced rider who is just able to walk/trot/canter in the arena will not be able to stop their horse in a rope halter should the horse get too forward.

So the problem I see with using the rope riding halter on your horse in the company of others is that they have to rely on your good judgement for their safety. Plus rope riding halter seem to me to becoming a trend and not everyone has such well trained horses as the people on this board.

tabula rashah
Dec. 22, 2010, 04:15 PM
A lot of you seem to be saying that on your specific horses riding in a rope halter is perfectly safe as your horse is trained. The problem is this is a judgement call made by you. Who knows maybe everyone who has responded here has excellent judgement of their horses but what happens when a less experienced rider sees you riding around in a rope halter. They might think their horse is trained enough too and they also might be motivated to ride their horse is a way thats more 'natural'. A lot of you are saying that there's no more control with a bitted bridle than a rope riding halter. I"m sorry but thats just plain incorrect. The inexperienced rider who is just able to walk/trot/canter in the arena will not be able to stop their horse in a rope halter should the horse get too forward.

So the problem I see with using the rope riding halter on your horse in the company of others is that they have to rely on your good judgement for their safety. Plus rope riding halter seem to me to becoming a trend and not everyone has such well trained horses as the people on this board.


You could just as easily being riding next to someone who can't control their horse with a bit.
Really quit being such a DQ
I took my mare that I ride 99% of the time in a rope halter out with foxhunters that were legging up the other day- galloping all over hill and dale, jumps, through woods, etc. Guess what? Mare was completely rate-able and obedient as she always is.

Ride your own horse and don't worry about what others are doing.


PS- I also ride the same mare completely sans bridle with other horses in the ring- I bet that'd have you shaking in your boots.

katarine
Dec. 22, 2010, 04:20 PM
In honor of the resident Grumpy Grump I'm going to go ride my big mare in a rope halter. I might ask DH to ride his guy in a rope halter, too. I guess if we manage to kill each other given the overwhelmingly, inherently, obviously dangerous nature of "gasp" riding in a rope halter- Christmas at my house, is off :)

millerra
Dec. 22, 2010, 04:57 PM
I'm sorry but I don't find the safety/judgment issue a compelling argument against rope halters.

Anytime you ride w/ any other rider - you are relying on their good judgment and ability to handle the horse that they are on. +/- bit, +/- training, +/- rider experience. I would rather ride w/ an experienced rider on a well trained horse in a rope halter than an green bean rider who is over-faced by their horse or a professional rider riding a spooky youngster w/ minimal brakes and steering. :eek: Just sayin'

mp
Dec. 22, 2010, 04:59 PM
In honor of the resident Grumpy Grump I'm going to go ride my big mare in a rope halter. I might ask DH to ride his guy in a rope halter, too. I guess if we manage to kill each other given the overwhelmingly, inherently, obviously dangerous nature of "gasp" riding in a rope halter- Christmas at my house, is off :)

See how safe I am? With the halter riders so far away? :lol:

Quite honestly, I don't care what people put on their horses' heads when they ride. But at my barn, there are several riders *cough*Parellidiots*cough* who like to ride in halters. And they don't run into anyone in the arena ... but it's because everyone is staying out of their way. ;)

GraceLikeRain
Dec. 22, 2010, 06:59 PM
Not directly dressage related but I worked at a fox hunting barn where the manager (who also did A LOT of training/fixing the "crazy" ones) regularly rode everything from green broke 4 year olds to seasoned hunters in a rope halter.

I distinctly remember him hand galloping a young greenish Thoroughbred mare destined to be a hunt horse with 4-5 other riders. The mare spooked, spun, and bolted in the opposite direction when they encountered a deer (lol not a great trait in a hunt horse). He had zero problem getting her back under control quickly and safely. I think it had more to do with his riding ability then the piece of equipment on the horses face but it certainly didn't impair his ability to ride.

Slightly dressage related: This man also rode the barn owners training level eventers in a rope halter on a regular basis. During this same time they were competing and I never heard the barn owner or other exercise riders complain that the rope halter negatively affected the horses flatwork.


IMHO a rope halter with well-placed knots on the nose has a much bigger "bite" than a fat egg butt snaffle.

Lady Counselor
Dec. 24, 2010, 06:26 AM
Since when did riding morph into the mindset that only using a bit in a horse's mouth would assure compliance?:confused:

For centuries, various methods of bitlessness has been around. Were all of those folks wrong?

My opinion is that we have gotten way too deep into the mindset of all bits all the time. Especially the theory of use a stronger one if you aren't getting the responses you need.

I do advocate that it be used responsibly, and with proper knowledge and training. That is to say, not taking a horse who has a long history of being iron jawed and tossing a rope on his face. But why in the world do all young horses need to be in bits right away and always?

I have some young stock here. I'm taking them along slowly and traditionally. They started with me up for the first time bareback and in a simple rope halter with reins in a round pen. We have done a ton of ground work to that point so actually sliding onto them was no big deal. No fuss, no drama.

From there, it's progresses to riding with a saddle and a sidepull, or bitless. Again, no drama. And....very important point here: they already have an E-brake trained into them from ground work. If they get strong and try to take off, you can do a one rein stop, disengage the hindquarters, and they give to you.

Again...hours and hours on the ground. With no drama or fuss, resulting in young horses who are confident in you.

They have been bitted, they can handle wearing one. Eventually I will add simple snaffles to the rigs as well, mostly so that if I sell them they won't encounter something totally strange and potentially unnerving in their new home.

I will trust in them and their training until given a reason not to, which to date, neither one has done anything that couldn't be handled with a bitless bridle.

Not only are they safe this way, the responsiveness is simply amazing. You can get the same body set and corrections on a bitless as you do in a bitted bridle; elevating shoulders, getting them to drop their heads and round, sidepasses, haunch in, shoulder in, you can do it all. I won't speak for higher level stuff, whether or not the bit becomes critical. But training level stuff it has worked very well.

At some point, I do believe that the resistance to riding bitless stems more from the rider's own insecurities than the horses. It IS a big leap of faith to start doing it: I went through it too. Was really not confident the first time I got on a youngster with no bit.

The key to it all is groundwork, groundwork, groundwork, and when you finish with that, more groundwork.

And your reward is having horses with soft, soft, soft faces/mouths, and eliminating the accidental bumping of the mouth you can get if a horse does something and gets you off balance with your hands.

monstrpony
Dec. 24, 2010, 07:37 AM
Lady Counselor, I think you just wrote the definitive go-to post for all future bitless thread controversies. Thank you!

The first ride in colt starting clinics with Ray Hunt always used to be a dozen colts in a round pen, with a rider on their back for the first time, and nothing on their heads (only after careful preparation through work from the ground, of course). This practice faded when it became apparent that there weren't always enough riders in the groups who were solid enough to sit still and follow the horses' energy, regardless. The colts, in this situation, are actually under the control of the guy in the middle of the pen, mounted on a made horse, carrying a flag, herding the group; the idea is for the horses to get used to moving with a rider on their back, without interference from the rider.

But one thing that is abundantly clear to me is that starting a horse with less on its face, and quietly staying with the horse's energy (thereby teaching the horse to follow the rider's energy, rather than their hands), not only produces softness, but also horses that are willing to go forward.

CosMonster
Dec. 24, 2010, 12:09 PM
I actually find I have more control of a young horse in a halter or hack. Yeah, if you just pull straight back they'll run right through it, but that's true of most bridles. A young horse is used to yielding to pressure on their face and body already, so it's easy to do a one rein stop if they get out of control. It takes them some time to learn to give to bit pressure. I usually take young horses out in hackamores on their first trail rides for exactly that reason.

I don't think rope halters are inherently unsafe by any means. And the whole "depending on the judgment of the rider" thing is BS--any time you ride with others, you're depending on their judgment. I have seen plenty of wrecks caused by horses wearing bits, sometimes quite severe ones.

I agree that a bit mostly gives a false sense of security. Really, horsemanship and training is what controls a horse, not any tool. Even those awful severe bits you see will eventually lose their bite if they're used by a rider who can't train or ride properly. I've seen horses run through the harshest bits when they're desensitized to them. :no:

I ride horses in various halters, hackamores, and bits depending on the horse and what we're doing, and I don't notice any substantial difference. I certainly don't worry about others riding in rope halters unless they give me a reason to--and the same goes for people riding in bits of any sort, too! ;)

I won't go into the bitless dressage debate except to say that as the rules stand, you can't ride bitless so it really doesn't have much to do with dressage. I still hack my dressage horses bitless, but most schooling takes place in a snaffle or double bridle.