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Bridleless Western Pleasure


Many Quarter Horse shows now offer Bridleless Western Pleasure classes. It’s walk, jog and lope—just like a typical western pleasure class, except without a bridle. The Mid-South Quarter Horse Association has offered them at its shows for several years. Shown here are the top three winners in the Bridleless Western Pleasure Class at the MSQHA Liberty Circuit.
Riding without a bridle is the ultimate proof that you have an obedient and willing equine partner. The training process teaches the rider to rely more on body cues and less on the reins, and helps the horse learn to respond to subtle body cues. Any rider with a centered and well balanced seat, along with good leg control, and a responsive horse can learn to do it. Riders often find that, without bit interference, their horses move much more rounded and free.

Transitioning to bridleless riding can start with training in the bit and then, once the horse knows how to do everything, take the bit out of their mouth. It really helps if your horse knows how to neck rein. It is very important that your horse understand leg cues: not only to move off the leg directionally, but also to round around your leg, two track, side pass, and pivot on both the haunches and hindquarters.

To first test your horse’s control without the bit, use a halter. Then try your horse without anything on the head using a neck rope, which can be just a simple lead rope around the neck. Finally, let the neck rope hang on the horse’s neck, so you are no longer using any neck reining cues, but keep it there for correction if needed. Give it a try and see if you and your horse like it!

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