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spinoff from OffCourse rope riding halter...

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  • spinoff from OffCourse rope riding halter...

    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?
    Last edited by Marengo; Dec. 20, 2010, 05:52 PM. Reason: spelling mistakes

  • #2
    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.


    • Original Poster

      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.


      • #4
        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!


        • #5
          It doesn't have anything much to do with dressage.
          ... _. ._ .._. .._


          • #6
            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.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Marengo View Post
              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


              • Original Poster

                In addition to wondering if rope riding halters are safe I was wondering if anyone schools dressage stuff at home in them.


                • #9
                  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.
                  "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                  Spay and neuter. Please.


                  • #10
                    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".


                    • #11
                      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!
                      I am not allowed to look at breeding stock.
                      Or babies. Or CANTER, et al.

                      ESPECIALLY not CANTER, et al.


                      • #12
                        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.



                        • #13
                          equipment/on the bit

                          Originally posted by shawneeAcres View Post
                          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
                          Ask and allow, do not demand and force.


                          • #14
                            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.
                            ... _. ._ .._. .._


                            • #15
                              the bagel. the horse must accept the bagel.


                              • #16
                                bridle - - headgear governing a horse
                                Ask and allow, do not demand and force.


                                • #17
                                  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?


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Equibrit View Post
                                    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?
                                    Last edited by Eklecktika; Dec. 20, 2010, 11:24 PM. Reason: clarifying statement
                                    I am not allowed to look at breeding stock.
                                    Or babies. Or CANTER, et al.

                                    ESPECIALLY not CANTER, et al.


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by spirithorse View Post
                                      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.
                                      ... _. ._ .._. .._


                                      • #20

                                        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.
                                        Big Idea Eventing