Last week the interwebs/blogland blew up over an article about a rider in Great Britain making a call for Bitless dressage. I didn’t spend a lot of time investigating but my general feelings are that just because something is different does not mean that it is wrong.
I do not personally think that a Dr. Cooks bridle or a hackamore with leverage would be appropriate for dressage – and honestly wouldn’t put a Dr. Cooks on one of my horses regardless of discipline. That said I do not understand what the violent opposition to a side pull or even a Micklem bridle is (though admittedly I find the Micklem to be hideous on 99% of horses).
This conversation was perfectly timed with the arrival of my Reins For Rescues neck rope. There is nothing quite like trying to ride without touching the reins to really call you out on bad habits. If you think you are totally independent of your hand and ride “primarily off your seat and leg” I urge you to prove it by attempting to ride without touching the reins. Annie and I were cruising around at the walk and trot (making figure 8’s, small circles, turn on forehand, controlled halts…) but holy hell did the wheels start to fall off the bus when I tried to come off the rail at the canter. I do have to say though that the few jumps we tackled riding with just the neck rope were so relaxed. This shouldn’t be surprising to me given how opposed Annie is to contact of pretty much any sort right now. Baby steps!
I am going to continue to ride with the neck rope as often as I can. Even if I am pretty sure it is just a safety blanket to make be feel slightly less insane for dropping my reins on the little dragon. Riding with a neck rope is a totally different ball game but something I would encourage others to try because it will point out your weaknesses under saddle in a jiffy.
Where do you all fall on the bitless dressage front? If you are opposed personally why do you take such offense to the rights of others to make that decision for their horses? Do you not care one way or another? I am curious about the logic behind these thoughts because I really had no idea so many people felt so strongly about the topic until last week.