Bitless at Equitana Sydney
Life is just getting back to normal after Equitana and Christmas. The past couple of months have been hectic but that translates into one thing - lots more happier bitless horses and riders.
Equitana Sydney was a huge success. More people than expected came to see the constant line up of entertainment, education and to shop!
Thursday and Friday were incredibly busy with three of us kept busy helping customers choose their bitless bridles and other goodies. Suzanne Bellette and I also did our ‘Benefits of Bitless’ educational session starring Tombay, Suzanne’s beautiful 16yo paint gelding. He showed everything from the basics to advanced in hand work on the ground, to collection with the LightRider Bitless Bridle beautifully and calmly, then repeated the performance on Saturday afternoon.
Lots of lovely comments were received with people appreciating that you could actually get to quite a high level of education with a bitless bridle.
While we focused purely on education this year, we have some exciting and entertaining ideas for future Bitless Presentations at Equitana to show that riding bitless can be done by anyone or any horse successfully. If you live near Melbourne and would like to be part of this please get in touch with me soon.
Some of our enthusiastic customers took their purchases straight home and reported back to us the next day, thrilled with how their horses responded with better stops and turns, and much happier all round.
We also found very diverse owners buying bitless bridles with racehorse trainers, campdraft competitors and polocrosse players preferring to train bitless. It was also lovely to see several RDA groups taking bridles to try on their horses too. This sort of feedback is what inspires us to put in the very long days and time out to be at these events so more horses can experience the comfort of being ridden or driven bitless. I’d love to hear from you if you have some feedback on your bitless experiences too.
And so for another year, our biggest event is over! There are still prizes to be sent out for the lucky winner of the LightRider Bridle + Bitless Riding Basics DVDs. Congratulations to Elise Davis of Booral, NSW who wins $200 of LightRider products and a DVD, and to the following winners of Bitless Riding Basics DVDs: Debbie Bennett, Elizabeth Moir, Kirsty Gilmore, Cathy McCallum, Esther Tilcroft, Linda Doughty, Clancy Erlin, Valla Tribe, Yvonne Gough and Nicky Gusterson.
Some Stockhorse Style LightRider bridles now come with stainless steel hardware. These are available in dark brown english leather and black or dark brown beta biothane in full size only at present. Click here for the LightRider Stockhorse.
We now have new leather Western style LightRider bridles (pictured right) with stylish silver conchos to enhance the scalloped browband and cheek straps. They come in tan brown or black regular leather for $119. Click here to see them in the store.
DVD Special Offer
If you own a LightRider bridle or are purchasing one, save 40% off the DVD
using this coupon code: I916RY1B6W8 when you buy: This reduces the price from the RRP of $49 to $29.
The Bitless Riding Basics DVD features
4 hours of footage from a clinic I held in Albury. Topics covered include:
~ Selection and fititng of bitless bridles
~ Teaching methods using positive reinforcement
~ Lateral Flexion (on the ground and in the saddle)
~ The hindquarter yield (ground and riding)
~ The back up (ground and riding)
~ Stopping and going forwards (ground and riding)
Minimal editing of the clinic footage means you get to see the whole learning process as 10 different horses present their individual issues. You will also hear lots of snippets of my philosphies on teaching horses.
Get yours from the online store now
“The Bitless Riding Basics DVD has arrived and I've watched it several times already. Love it! I have been riding my boy in a cross over style bitless bridle for about eight years now and he goes well in it but I learnt a lot from your DVD. Also I will be getting a new horse after Christmas who has only ever been ridden in a bit and I feel more confident about changing her to bitless after watching your DVD.” Sylvia – South Australia.
LightRider Bridles Now in New Zealand
www.equigear.com.nz are now the exclusive resellers of LightRider Bridles in New Zealand. Their shop is located near Hamilton with Sandy and Geoff Rawlings at the reins. Sandy will soon be offering a fitting and 'try before you buy' service at the store - you will be able to bring your horse along and ride in an enclosed arena to find which bridle suits your horse best. Check out their online store and contact Sandy for more info. You can also find them on Facebook - click here.
LightRider Bridle Training Tips – How do you use the reins?
Some people new to bitless bridles are unsure if they should use the reins the same as when they ride with a bit. Should you follow the head movement? Should you use the same aids for turning and stopping?
Essentially the answer is yes, mostly.
The only difference you need to keep in mind, is that its best to use a rhythmic feel on the rein whenever you have constant contact.This will ensure your horse doesn't learn to lean on the bridle and will also keep them light and responsive to the rein.
Because the LightRider bridle allows close communication, you can usually use a lighter rein aid than is necessary with a halter or hackamore. This will ultimately depend on the horse and its level of sensitivity and education – something that can be achieved with an equal amount of sensitivity and communicaiton from the rider!
The Straw Experiment
At Equitana in Sydney, 61 people took part in the ‘Lucky Straw Draw’ – experiencing how it feels to hold a plastic drink straw in their mouth like a bit, for as long as possible. Some barely managed 2 minutes, others did it for 20 minutes!
Here’s what they felt…..
17 found it ‘Uncomfortable’ – several ‘Really Uncomfortable’
11 found it ‘Annoying’
11 found they needed to ‘chew on it’ or ‘play with it continually’
10 said they were ‘Preoccupied’, ‘Couldn’t Concentrate’, ‘Distracted’, ‘Couldn’t focus’
7 said they felt ‘Restricted’ or ‘Blocked’
7 said they produced ‘Lots of Saliva’
7 found it ‘Hard to swallow’ or Couldn’t Swallow’
4 felt ‘Tension in their neck/head/face/jaw’
4 said they ‘Don’t like it’
3 said the ‘Corners of their mouth got sore’
3 ‘Wanted to get rid of it’
3 said they ‘felt numb/tingly’
2 said their ‘Tongue was restricted’
2 said it ‘Irritated their mouth’
2 said it was ‘Not Pleasant’
Other comments included:
Hard, Pain, Strange, Un-Natural, Couldn’t get used to it, Sore tongue muscles, Irritating, Sore jaw, Awkward, Stressed, Sick to my stomach, Felt stupid/ un-dignified/ embarrassed, Pulls lips, Can’t lick lips, Dry mouth, Tired mouth, Hitting teeth, Can’t breathe properly, Would make me cranky, Horrible/yucky, plastic better than a steel bit, Painful gums (where there was no teeth – just like in a horse!), Would kill if someone reefed on it!
A small group of high school students (non-horsey) also took part in this experience and made the following comments:
“Hard to swallow, annoying, more dribble, bad, can not chew, can not talk properly, hurts teeth, want to chew on it, want to spit it out.“
Time in = 5mins 44 sec.
“Difficult speech, more saliva, uncomfortable, annoying”
Time in = 3mins 42sec.
“Annoying, boring, don’t like it”
Time in = 1min 27sec.
“My throat feels kind of sore and painful and uncomfortable. I am making more saliva. My head keeps being pulled down and I can’t lift it up. My gums and teeth are painful I want to chew on it. My neck feels hard.”
Time in = 2min 2sec and 1min 5sec
Many thanks to all those who took part. If you haven’t yet tried this, next time you see a plastic straw give it a go.