Harebrained Idea

My barn owners always joke that they made me sign two liability waivers… I am not crazy really… But I do make my horses deal with a lot. Well adjusted citizens people – that’s what our horses should be!img_0071.jpg

Sometimes that is getting on my then 4yo TB bareback or getting on Houston bareback with halter. Other times might be when I attempted to plank on Annie – honestly not sure why that was even a thing I wanted to try.img_2469

Last fall I really wanted to teach my horses to go with a neck rope. I jimmy rigged my own by attaching the hook end of a rein to its own buckle and off we went. With tack and a bridle – I don’t have an immediate death wish! With Houston going to AL and show season wrapping up for Annie and then the holidays the idea went onto the back burner.

Then a few weeks ago Amanda shared a picture of Henny wearing his neck rope from Reins for Rescues and the idea sprang back to my mind. I finally made the purchase when Kristen sent me a coupon code she saw on instagram.

It will be slow going and who knows if I will ever be ballsy enough to actually lose the bridle but I am looking forward to getting my Navy R4R neck rope! Have any of you guys trained your horses to do bridleless? If so how long did that take for you to be comfortable?

You may also like


  1. I’ve toyed with it a little bit in the arena, but I am not brave/confident enough to go somewhere without boundaries yet haha. But I agree with you, horses should be well rounded citizens!

  2. Oooo I have NOT tried this. My boy horse was totally rideable in a halter but we’re going to have to get a lot further with baby horse before we try this

  3. Foster’s lateral work was super solid when I got bored over the winter and tried going bridleless. We could turn on the forehand without reins already, and were quite in sync when it came to stop/go off of my seat. With the neck rope it just meant pairing my half-halt with some pressure from the rope at the base of his neck. Steering was again basically all legs, but when I was sharing the arena with other horses and he was interested in them I did have to use the neck rope to steer a bit- mostly by moving it up his neck and directing his head in the direction I wanted to go.

    You can see this at work here ( https://youtu.be/SeOFp13HNGw ) though I was working with an old stirrup leather that was way too short XD

  4. I tried it with Apollo and felt pretty good about it. He has never loved having a bit so it’s probably his favorite thing. I’m not sure how he’d do outside though… we get a bit of a squirrel brain happening out there.

  5. It really didn’t take me much time at all. Although I use a stiff lasso type neck rope instead of those flexible ones. I like the stiff one because I can hold it off to have absolutely 0 contact with the horse when he’s being good, and it’s firm enough to show different amounts of pressure on his neck when I need it.

    As far as training, I did about two rides where I dropped the reins and made him halt/steer just off my seat (this is how Simon is trained anyway, even when I have reins). On about the third or fourth ride, I took the bridle off after 10 minutes of this. No difference. After that day, I could just take him up without a bridle and use my neck rope and he was very obedient. Sometimes mid ride if I’m jumping/cantering a lot I have to do a few walk/halt/walk/halt transitions, but mostly he respects the rope.

    Now I can ride with a neck rope and no saddle, and W/T/C. It just takes practice.

  6. I ride Georgie in a halter and leadrope quite often, but haven’t been brave enough to do just a neck rope.. Perhaps I’ll start in the arena and see how it goes!

  7. I have started trying to train Dino to go in a neck rope, but he is a cheeky little brat and totally takes advantage of me when he knows I cannot pull his head up, and just stops dead to eat grass whenever he feels like it. But otherwise, he stops and steers pretty well off the seat so that part is not an issue for us!

    I will be reading the comments eagerly for suggestions!

  8. Yay! Glad you ordered one.

    It’s not so crazy of an idea, P took to it much faster than I would have guessed. I have still been keeping the bridle on when others are in the ring but we don’t really need it.

    Most interesting part to me is the difference in his head carriage with the neck rope even versus riding on a loose rein. He’s just so relaxed and stretches down.

  9. 99% certain Marcus would kill me but I have it on the list to do with Frankie when he is a bit more broke. He is a little less motivated to expend extra effort so I fear for my life less with him without a bridle..

  10. I used to ride Rico bridleless! We even went on trail rides and herded the cows in the pasture bridleless too.

    With him I started in a smaller arena, maybe twice the size of a round pen, to get our barings. I started by riding him in a rope halter, then would lay the rope over his neck and use the lariat, so I still had the emergency brake of the lead rope. Rode like that until I found I never had to use the lead rope and then eventually took the halter off completely! Having good brakes from my seat made a huge difference in how safe I felt too. Like I would never ride TC bridleless because he doesn’t have a good whoa (but does have a terrifying go lol).

    Good luck! I’m super excited to see your progress!

  11. I love to push boundaries (see: leading horse on a motorcycle, standing on horse, riding on horse backwards over a jump, placing all possible weird things on horse, etc). So trying just a neck rope seemed appropriate. Bacon was actually better with that then with the halter and lead rope attached on two sides. It did show that she had some training holes on one side versus the other.

    My paint mare I hopped on a couple of times without anything at all on, and one time that ho took advantage and went for a fun little gallop, so neck rope from now on for me 🙂

  12. My horse is quite broke, and with tack hacks around on the buckle off of my seat and leg great. But when I tried to play with just a neck rope, he 100% took advantage. Lol. But with a horse that’s a bit more cooperative, I’m sure it would be a ton of fun.