Showing posts from December, 2008

Going Bitless

(Kathy Kusner jumps Aberali in what appears to be an ordinary side-pull bitless bridle) Having just finished a series on the five rein aids, I got a great comment from billie of camera-obscura – she asked: “When you complete this series I wonder if you might tackle the subject of rein aids from the perspective of using a bitless bridle - I am so curious whether these things can transfer to that, or even to riding in a halter with snap-on reins. How much does the bit actually have to do with it? If the Big Bay understands the rein aid, does he really need the bit?” It’s a great point! I hope to answer, in my roundabout way, all of those questions, along with some of my thoughts on going bitless. I’d love to hear if anyone else has experience with bitless riding. *** When I still had my boarding/training barn, we shared a facility with a typical H/J show barn. During that time our eclectic and unfamiliar methods regularly raised more than a few eyebrows and drew plenty of qu

The Indirect Rein of Opposition Behind the Wither

The fifth and final rein aid , the Indirect Rein of Opposition Behind the Wither, is perhaps the most important in executing more advanced movements as well as helping balance a horse on circles and in turns, whether in dressage or hunt seat schooling. Again, because the technical name of this rein aid is a mouthful, I will refer to it in future as “the Indirect Behind.” The Indirect Behind , like it’s cousin the Indirect in Front , is a rein of opposition, which means that it creates its effect by opposing forward impulsion and therefore has a blocking and somewhat collecting effect on the horse. Technique: To use this rein, the rider simply brings the hand slightly behind the wither and in line with the horse’s opposite hip, as always being careful not to cross the mane. In this position, the rider simply closes the fingers and offers resistance. This temporary resistance blocks the horse’s impulsion on that side causing the horse to bend evenly throughout his bod

The Direct Rein of Opposition

(click on image to view full-size) The Direct Rein of Opposition is by f ar the most misused and abused rein aid of the five. This is a rein of opposition, which means it blocks the horse’s impulsion on the side used – or, because this aid can be used simultaneously on both reins, blocks both sides – and transfers the horse’s balance backward toward the hindquarter on the side where the rein is used. As with all reins of opposition, this is an incredibly powerful aid and, used improperly, can be the cause of significant – and justified – resistance from the horse, perhaps more than any other rein effect. This rein has a powerful stopping and/or collecting effect on the horse in that it causes the horse to re-balance himself toward one or both hindquarters while opposing forward impulsion. The effect of this rein is such that, when applied to one side, depending on the strength of the aid relative to the amount of impulsion, the horse may turn his head slig