Bitless and Barefoot

Benny has been barefoot for a while and I see no need to change that. The farrier says he has good feet and will be OK on the roads, he may have some problems with the stony tracks but will have to see how he goes. If shoes are needed then he will have them – hoof boots may work but his feet are so huge!

I rode Benny in a halter at first and then went to the Parelli Cradle bridle he came with – for refinement. At a recent clinic with Terri Martinus I rode in the halter with one rein – really gets you off the hands, I am just getting my balance back. Then we did no reins and just a stick for direction when needed. The problem I had was that Benny wouldn’t stop from my seat – he does in the school on his own but with other horses around or indeed when I took him down the road – no brakes.

I have had a few lessons with a Ride With Your Mind instructor – Sally Ede – very good for the posture. Biomechanics and breathing are taught – useful as I seek to be a more balanced rider.

I have also found a useful resource in Jenny Rolf with the focus on breathing to be more intune with the horse. A book and DVD are on the way – so watch for updates.

In the meanwhile I have bought a Light Rider bitless noseband to convert the Cradle Bridle to bitless – not had a chance to use it yet but it fits well. I have ridden both Kit – my Connemara and Dougal – an Irish Cob – bitless with success.

Not done much with Benny over the last 2 days but he is very good now with the verbal cue “whoa” to stop – both online and at liberty. The head down is working nicely too, need to keep up the training until we can get it every time and then transfer the cues to the ridden work.


Benny is the reason I started my journey, he is a very exuberant cob, left brain extrovert in Parelli language. completely different to any other horse I have dealt with.

Benny was given to me as his owner wanted a horse for endurance riding, so I though he would be perfect to regain my confidence on. He is a bit of a challenge as he marches off down the road with me as a passenger. We need to put some whoa in place.

On the ground he pulls away in trot on a 22 foot line – usually just as he is behind me. No telling off just a calm walk to him and pick up the rope and try again. This is what we did initially but now I am searching for some positive re-inforcement to help. I am now teaching him to stop when the rope is dropped – needs some more sessions but he is getting better.

He is very food motivated so was beginning to ask for treats, I am now teaching him head down before the delivery of the treat. This also helps in a reactive situation as it lowers the adrenaline response. He is a little spooky sometimes in the school when motorcycles roar down the lane and this technique will help to keep him calm. More information is on the TTouch site

Also teaching a verbal “whoa”, first with a rope and some pressure to achieve the stop, reward with a treat – then progressing to no pressure just a verbal command – a treat when stopped. Finally it will be at liberty too, but not done much of that. His attention is not with me for long after I take of his halter – but we have got a few steps and a whoa.

I will add blogs of our progress and some pictures soon.