I wanted to assist people on how to get the best from using a bitless bridle so here is a free bitless riding lesson on me :-
Firstly before riding, and certainly before trying a bitless bridle, please make sure your horse is in a relaxed, happy and calm frame of mind by playing with him on the ground first. If theres any sign of trouble and he is not co-operating, or backing up snapily etc...
these are clear red lights as to not get on. Either carry out more groundwork until your horse is calm and connected, or else don't ride today.
BEND TO STOP:
Another very import issue is that every rider should know how to bend their horse to a stop, whether riding bitted or bitless, so this is another exercise that needs to be good and practiced on the ground before getting on.
Google for lateral flexion and for a one rein stop for more info on this....
Once you have green lights from your horse, only then should you climb on up.
PREVENTING THE CLASSIC MISTAKE:
The single biggest mistake riders make when going bitless is trying to ride like they still had a bit....with way too much contact and rein engagement.....which tends to permanently engage the contact of the bridle itself, and the pressure from tight reins is clamped on tightly with a vice tight grip to the poor horses head, making it extremely uncomfortable and causing much distress to the horse because of this...and also is so tight that it can't release.
The response to these tight reins normally tends to involve a wrestling match between you and your horse, including head shaking, and reefing reins out of riders hands or taking off etc...and this the horses way of pleading with the rider to RELEASE the tension on the reins.
you should be riding on the buckle at all times.
Therefore a relaxed rein is how to go about it.....shorten the reins by all means and apply gentle and empathic tension when asking for a turn or stop, or back up etc...and then immediately RELEASE, and then go back to riding on the buckle as shown here with my daughter and her pony.
This should all be done after using all other body aides...so your eyes to focus where you are going, twist your waist to turn, and then apply your leg to gently push your horse in the direction you want him to go...AND ONLY THEN USE THE REIN in the polite manner as described above....
As soon as the horse responds -RELEASE, RELEASE AND MORE RELEASE!Back to a relaxed rein on the buckle.
This is the correct way to ride bitless....and your horse will love you for it, as it's never the pressure that teaches him....its always the RELEASE.
Once you have mastered your feel and timing with this, things will go from good to better, and only then can we start to ask for Bitless Collection by using a concentrated rein for short bursts ...and then of course offer the release of the rein after every manoeuvre.
This way your horse will try harder in all you ask of him :)