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tara orlin horse trainer
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BITLESS RIDING

You want to learn bitless riding? Come to a clinic!


"There are many different ways to ride horses and many different equestrian arts. I have been practicing classical dressage, jumping, hiking, western, doma vaquera and freeriding.


I don't think there is only one way to do something and all the different equestrian arts have something good and something bad. I try to collect the good, and so I have developed my own art of riding- bitless doma vaquera with a western twist.


Why bitless?

I don't think its neccessary to put metal in the horses mouth to communicate. The mouth is a very delicate spot, super sensitive and if you pull a little too hard on the rein the horse could develop a pattern of being tense. Many horses have trouble concentrating and relaxing when being ridden because they feel pain from the bit. You aslo have to pull out some of the horses teeth just to fit the bit.


Many people think that its more safe to ride with a bit, but this is not true. The control comes from the training and the relationship you have with the horse. You should be in control of the horse, not the bit.


COLLECTION


It is important to understand that horses are not meant to have riders, and if you dont ride them in a good way, you could end up damaging them.


A rider puts a lot of weight in one spot on the horses back. If this area of the back is not prepared and muscled up, the horse could develop back problems and pain.


For a horse to carry its rider in a good way, he needs to lift his back and carry more weight on his hind legs, so the front end gets light and maneuverable. The horse needs to learn how to use his back muscles so the back gets strong, so he can more easy carry the rider and feel comfortable. This is called collection.


Collection aslo encourages concentration. relaxation and control if its done the right way. Its not about bending the neck and looking pretty, its about teaching the horse to activate his top line muscles and listen.

SELF CARRIAGE


I practice pressure-and-release- commincation. Pressure could be anything from a vocal cue to me moving my weight or putting energy in my feet or rope. Release is all pressure off and leaving the horse alone. 


When the horse is doing everything right, he should be left alone with all pressure of. The horse learns in the moment you stop. For example, If I want the horse to walk forward, I would give my signal to the horse and when the horse started to walk, I would stop giving the signal, rewarding him for walking.


The same goes if I ask my horse to do something with its head, like bending left and right or lower the head or collect. When the horse is doing the right thing I give the horse loose reins, all pressure of. And when all pressure is of it should be comfortable for the horse and you. This will motivate the horse to do the right thing and you will teach the horse to stay in collection by itself. The horse will learn to be light, soft and very comfortable to ride.

BASICS & EQUIPMENT


Every horse has to start somewhere. Besides practicing collection it is also importent to practice obedience.


Just like from the ground, you should be able to control the horses feet and head: Walk, slow and fast, trot - slow and fast, canter- slow and fast, moving the hind and front legs, and being able to back up, stand still, relax, lower the head and bend the head left and right. These things are the minimum your horse should know, therefore called basics.


When you have this foundation you have security and communication. And you can keep on building and take it to the next level. I recommend starting with a rope halter and lead rope and when you start more technical a western bosal is perfect. 


Make sure you have a good saddle that fits the horse. You want your horse to feel safe, happy and comfortable.

Photo: Tara riding "Nelly" a five year old she started under saddle.