Second Free Lesson on Training a Horse for Bit-Less Dressage and Pleasure Riding

Free Lesson #2

Kai

My blog today is on my second free lesson on preparing a horse for bit-less dressage.  As you remember from our first free lesson, my video was on mounting Honey from the fence.  We spent many days on mounting from the fence until Honey began to expect this exercise and enjoy the process. He now thinks that mounting is a grooming behavior that he has come to enjoy. The first time Kai tried to ride him away from the fence Honey fell into his old pattern of being in a hurry and wanted to go faster and faster until I assumed he would have taken off into a full run trying to get rid of Kai.  However, because Honey now has a strong foundation in the Waterhole Rituals we could turn him around. Kai knew not to try to pull back on Honey’s rope because we have been told if you try to stop him he would rear, so I called him to me and he came over in a hurry and Kai then stepped off of him quickly before Honey had time to think.

So we went back to more preliminary exercises relating to halt and slowing down like leading from behind, Single Lining and some exercises on turning left and right from the ground in hand, where in every turn we asked for a halt. This was done very slowly between Kai and I working together.  Sometimes I would ask for a halt from the ground while Kai was on Honey’s back and sometimes Kai would direct Honey himself.

Now Honey can be ridden in a walk, trot and halt without being in a hurry when he is warmed up and is listening well to the aids.  Kai is back in Spain and I am now more focused on our next lesson that I am sharing with you today… more Single Lining.

Single Lining

single liningThis exercise is a warm up exercise for training, pleasure riding, bitless dressage and double lining (ground driving).  Single Lining puts a horse’s mind into preforming and paying attention to the rider’s seat and rein aids by putting a horse under the rider’s seat. Most riders feel their job is to stay on the horse rather than it being the job of the horse to stay under them. When riding it is allot easier to stay on a horse when the horse would make every effort to stay under the rider’s seat.  When a rider puts more focus on staying on the horse rather than the horse staying under him, there is allot of control being lost from making the wrong choices in what to ask from the horse.  What I have noticed is that many riders can not tell if a horse is under their seat or not. A horse is not truly under the rider’s seat if the horse is either going faster or slower than what the rider is asking.  Many times the rider is indefinite in how fast they want their horse to travel.

When you ask for a turn from the horse if the horse does not follow the exact path of the turn the rider wants, then the horse is not under the rider’s seat. All of this can be fixed from warming up daily with the Single Lining exercises.  As you go along, the residual effect of Single Lining will grow and grow to a magical connection.

What Single Lining does is develop a horse to be truly between the seat and the hands of the rider without the rider needing to signal the horse in-between the initial request.  The Single Lining causes a horse to self govern his own performance; self carriage becomes natural to him. When a horse is truly under your seat you would be able to ask only once with a light aid for a halt and your horse would halt. You could also ask for a horse to take the speed you would like and the horse would maintain it without any direction from you once he has taken the pace that you have asked for. In other words, Single Lining creates a rated horse from the ground without the train it from the saddle.

The result of Single Lining will create a feeling that only your thoughts or from your desire alone, are controlling your horse’s performance. The aids you use would be aids as light as a fly’s touch. For a horse to respond to aids this light it comes for a deep desire to perform and be there for his rider. This is what Single Lining will do for you and your horse.

This Exercise is not for Everyone but can be Accomplish by Anyone

Some people will not have the time or the patience.  Be prepared to give this exercise 30 days at the least 3 days a week, at best 5 days a week, before you could use Single Lining as an effective warm up program for your horse before riding. You can not over do this exercise. The exercise is mostly done at a walk, at least for the first 30 days. Walk is an amazing gate to use to connect with your horse. Later we will be adding some trot work but not for a couple of months. Relax into the program and it will do wonders for you and your horse. Your skills for training will advance quickly, removing years of practices and experiences.

Let’s get Started

Remember always start with the Waterhole Rituals and then into the Uberstriechen Exercises from the ones you have learned. You do not need to know them all. You should not need to put more than 20 minutes of work into the Waterhole Rituals and the Uberstriechen Exercises before you start with the Single Lining exercises.  You can spend another 15 to 20 minutes on Single Lining.

Put on some good music. Have letters up about 20 feet or so apart.  I use the letters on a dressage court. I like to pretend that I am at my Spanish Riding School introducing the arena to a horse for the start of his bit-less riding schooling. It is my job to do this exercise each day until the horse accepts the exercise as a natural part of his work at the school before I change up my horse’s program. All horses at the school do these exercises in the morning at the same time and this helps the new horses to fall in line.

The horses that are ready to be introduced to the Single Lining are well trained at Liberty and Companion Walking, trotting, halt and pausing.  The horse can also do the clover leaf pattern around a food bucket. Don’t forget to do your Sharing Territory exercises everyday to keep the bond growing deeper and deeper.  Whatever you are already doing with your horse, you may continue doing.

First Step

along fence

Walk along the fence of the arena in a relaxed manner, stopping at each letter and waiting there until the horse is happy to stand on a short slack line until moving on. Ask for halt like in Companion Walking just past the letter so his shoulder is at the letter. When he is halted on a slack line shorten the line until the slack is out of the line then move up to his head keeping the connection and ask him to turn towards the letter as if you are going to ask him to make a turn to the outside like in a roll back. When the horse turns enough so that his front feet have put the horse at a 45 degree angle to the fence and that you can now see the letter, and his nose is right at the letter, ask him to halt and wait at the letter on a short relaxed rein. Your horse might fuss, so do not move on until he is relaxed.  This will teach patience, tolerance and a willingness to allow you to control his behavior.  In this exercise we do not use treats.  We are developing a work ethic in our horses.  This is the exercise you will do every day for 30 days…So simple to do and the rewards will be magical!
What your horse is learning is that when he feels contact on the inside rein from you asking him to halt and him walking into the contact, he will not fall onto his shoulder or try to face you which would cause the horse to come off his path. What he learns is to take the inside rein and move into halt from this exercise.

Always find out what speed your horse’s natural walking speed is. When you know what that speed is, ask him to go faster or slower than he would like to go.  This way you take the leadership roll in a very unobtrusive way. If he is slow, you will ask him to move faster and if he is fast, you will ask him to go slower.  This will teach your horse to rate himself easily.

If at any time your horse tries to turn around and face you, when the horse feels a pull on the line from not halting when you did or you are walking slower that he his, walk up to him to stop the turn. As you walk up to him keep the slack out of the line. Once your horse has halted move up closer to his head and ask for a halt at close range. You should have the rope held about 4 inches or less from the halter.  Use a strong aid to taking control of the horse to steady him that is not punitive and then when he halts move him to the wall at a 45 degree angle to the fence and have him relax there indefinitely. Hold the rope and hold the fence as if he is tied there.  Don’t move on until he is completely relaxed on a shot relaxed line.

longer lineSo simple and so easy but in the beginning it is a bit clumsy and that is perfectly all right, even expected . Your clumsiness will get better quickly and will not hurt the training of your horse. When moving him over to the wall pick up your energy and his speed as if you are in a hurry to move him over to the fence.  This will call attention to your horse that time is of an essence. He will learn from this exercise to move quickly and then to relax immediately. These abilities are needed for dressage.  There is the pause and a horse’s ability to respond immediately, the timing, connection and the rhythm that creates the gates and the dance of dressage.

In my online bit-less Dressage program I will cover more advanced details. Hope to see you in it. I want my free programs to really work for you too. Hope this is of great benefit as it has been for me for the years I have used it for training all my horses.

Happy Holidays

As I am approaching New Years Eve, I feel very present to the wonders of nature and what amazing adventures this next year has to offer to our little family here at Dances with horses and to all of us that are truly imbibing in the magic that each day provides to us.

I want to wish you all a Happy New Year and hope your celebrations around the world are all magical.

Be on the look out for new horse and human sightings and may the horse be with you.

Warmly, Carolyn

 

 

 

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71 Comments on "Second Free Lesson on Training a Horse for Bit-Less Dressage and Pleasure Riding"

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karin kozlowski, EC, West Virginia, Roscoe and Amigo
Guest
Dear Carolyn, Thank you ever so much for this wonderfully instructive blog and video. I am practicing the single lining with Amigo, my young two and a half year old horse. Single lining is one of the exercises you asked for to qualify for your bit-less class. I wasn’t able to submit that video because we had not yet practiced that. So I don’t know whether or not I qualify for your class. Nevertheless, this is a marvelous exercise. Amigo gets increasingly attentive and light as we practice, and I really understand what you mean by self-carriage and how eventually… Read more »
christin staszesky harper
Guest
3 years 4 months ago
dear carolyn, just today, january 2nd, i have read your latest blog and learned several things while reading the responses. that you have indeed acquired the new little dog who had been hit by a car during the BTWH clinic and that her name is Lady. how lovely for Apollo. i also learned that your sweet mum has been hospitalized. i am dearly sorry and hope so much that it is not too serious and that she will be back to her self very soon. i so enjoyed meeting her in december. she is a love. i was finally able… Read more »
Mary Augustine
Guest
Mary Augustine
3 years 4 months ago
I have been doing this exercise with my Nokota Horse – Dakotah for three days now. He seemed to like it right away. I have a corner in my arena that seems to make almost all horses “come alive”. I think it is the combination of the trees in that area. After doing this exercise twice I noticed that he was paying more attention to me than what might have been in the woods. I did end up stopping more often as we approached the corner as this put more attention on the task. We ended up stopping in the… Read more »
Leanna Kielian
Guest
Leanna Kielian
3 years 4 months ago

Carolyn,

True and I send to you and your Mother Paulina an ocean of healing energy and strength to assist in anyway way that you need it, so you both can start the New Year with the best heath possible. Much love to Apollo, his new friend and all the horses that bring so much grace(with your loving help) to your home.

Anne Lervik
Guest
Anne Lervik
3 years 4 months ago

Happy New Year, Carolyn!

I really appreciate being able to follow Honey’s journey even though I am away for school and can’t train right now myself. Soaking up as much as I can 🙂

Hoping that your mother will recover soon, and that you will have a great 2013 with all your friends and family 🙂

Best wishes,

Anne

Laura Nelson
Guest
Laura Nelson
3 years 4 months ago
Dear Carolyn, Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year to you and those you love. As I know first-hand, hospital-time for a loved one is the most emotionally draining experience in life. My heart goes out to you and your Mom. May all be well, and soon. Congratulations on the clarity and precision of this excellent lesson. I look forward to sharing it with my beloved Zar (who totally enjoyed the first one) as well as the new OTTB and dressage-discard rescues in my barn. If you wish, I shall keep you posted on our progress.
Christine
Guest
3 years 4 months ago

Happy New Year, to you too Carolyn!

Here’s to a 2013 filled with horses!

Sharolyn
Guest
3 years 4 months ago
Dear Carolyn, Thank-you for this detailed lesson, so many details for me to keep practicing. New Year means new plans for me. I’m adding daily single lining to Mannah’s program!! We are having fun with the helmet camera these days … you were right it is tricky to control what we capture when he is wearing it! Mostly the footage is of me laughing cause the camera is like a third eye but he doesn’t seem to mind at all. I cannot wait to get it made into a video to share; I have the camera borrowed until the weekend.… Read more »
Linda j Salinas BTWHR Spring 2012 Insider Circle Fall of 2011 and Spring of 2012
Guest
Hi Carolyn, This year, as I reflect on all the many blessings and gifts, I have to say that coming to the BTWHR clinic this past March was the best. Meeting you, and all the wonderful people that you attract has been so special. I am doing things with my horses, that I never dreamed I could do, thanks to you and your method. It has taught me so much and continues to do so. I hope your mom is better. I wish you, your family, and all your creatures/beauties a beautiful New Year. I look forward to seeing you… Read more »
Mary Elizabeth Bradford
Guest
Mary Elizabeth Bradford
3 years 4 months ago

Happy New Year Carolyn. Simply Amazing – thank you so much.

Anne-Marie
Guest
Anne-Marie
3 years 4 months ago

Thanks for a very useful post.

Happy New Year

Anne-Marie

Tamara Blits
Guest
Tamara Blits
3 years 4 months ago
Dear Carolyn; I love the easy ways you teach horses to understand. I’m going to try this, as soon as I can. Dakota likes to keep going, when I ride him, and I always turn him into the fence, to slow him down. It has been so cold, I haven’t been seeing him everyday. Thank you for your videos. They are very helpful. I like the way Dakota has learned to relax, this exercise will surely help. I think working on the ground is most important. I don’t ride him very much. Tried the fence lesson. He needs more work… Read more »
Monique Ros
Guest
3 years 4 months ago
Hi Carolyn Thank you sooo much for this free lesson. It wil help us a lot I cant work at this moment with the horses, because of the long time of rain. We stand up to our knees in the mud. But there are a lot of extra horse kisses shared now :0) So feeding and care takes about 4-6 hours a day to complete the 18 horses here. Hope all rain now become snow, then we have a lot of fun in the snow. I send you my articles late January, I had to take a break for myself… Read more »
Aline Mellema/ IC/ Angel and Vicky/ Netherlands/ ECspring2011/ ICfall2011/ BTWRCmarch2012
Guest
Aline Mellema/ IC/ Angel and Vicky/ Netherlands/ ECspring2011/ ICfall2011/ BTWRCmarch2012
3 years 4 months ago
Dear Carolyn, Thank you so much for this free lesson! Love this blog and I learn so much from it. Love what you said about feeling clumsy in the beginning, because I absolutely feel that way sometimes 😀 LOL! Happy to hear that’s all part of the learning process. I LOVE the single lining. It’s such a nice way to work with your horse and I really feel Angel is developing a work ethic because of it. It’s not easy, but it’s fun and when working on this we get in a nice flow… I can see how it helps… Read more »
Avril Wilson
Guest
Avril Wilson
3 years 4 months ago
Hi Caroline a wonderful and informative post as always this is close to my heart as much to peoples surprise I have never ridden my Arab mare Oshe with a bit -I hack out alone with a string halter and a rope and I can ride her in the arena with no halter just a string around her neck she is an angel and soo light I just have to think stop and lean back a little -even from a trot.i do a lot of on line work with my two Arab mares and now you have given me another… Read more »
Andrea Schwiegel
Guest
Andrea Schwiegel
3 years 4 months ago

Thank you, so much, dear Carolyn, for this lesson. Single lining helps me a lot to connect with my horse who’s got the tendency to always look around and watch out for “dangers”. It helps me to get her relaxed.
I wish you a very Happy New Year.

Best wishes
Andrea (Italy)

Carolyn Bourchier
Guest
3 years 4 months ago

Thank you for the video. A very Happy New Year to you, with love from Carolyn B in the UK xxx

Amanda
Guest
Amanda
3 years 4 months ago

Hello Carolyn,

Love your blog and all your posts. However your lack of contact is concerning to me.
I just ordered your dvds (on the 23rd), and it’s now past the 29th. I’ve emailed a couple times to the listed person who handles shipping, I’ve also sent you emails both with no reply!

I just want to know when they’ll be in, have they been shipped etc?
I was at a loss for contacting you, but see you look at the comments on your blog so here I am.

Look forward to resolving this!

Susan Cressy, EC 2011
Guest
Susan Cressy, EC 2011
3 years 4 months ago

Thank you so much Carolyn for your generosity and kindness in sharing your knowledge through your teachings. In this world where everyone is so proprietorial, it is so refreshing to be able to experience the valuable lessons that you make available. I am very grateful for your big heart and generosity. It is congruent with your philosophy of teaching and your way of being and is so easily transferred to every area of my life. Thank you for the gifts that you give.
Sincerely, Susan Cressy

Elodie Belz (ICC spring 2011)
Guest
Elodie Belz (ICC spring 2011)
3 years 4 months ago

Dear Carolyn,

Thanks so much for this blog. I enjoyed watching the video, as it reminds me of the time we all spent together at your ranch!

I wish you a very happy new year and a lot of joy for 2013!
Warmly,

Elodie

Geerteke Kroes IC 2011 BWHRC 2011
Guest
Dear Carolyn, thank you for this post – a visual learner myself like Carol I enjoyed your video with Honey – I would very much appreciate it if you did share Honey ‘s outburst so it gives me/us an idea of how YOU deal with ‘outbursts’ – actually I did some single lining with Marcello after having attended your BWRC in 2011 – sadly things were brought to a halt again with a bang due to my accident shortly after I returned from Escondido – now a year later and the rehabilitation I went through horse and human are slowly… Read more »
Geerteke Kroes IC 2011 BWHRC 2011
Guest
PS I also do the yoga-for-horses-game in the stable/box stall with the help of a carrot – Marcello likes it and starts the game by already bending and touching his body with his nose beyond the hipbone when I am, for example, still grooming his tail and he perhaps wants me to hurry up 🙂 when he has made that lateral bend left and right and at the same time not moved his feet, the next bend is all the way down towards his tummy and he moves his head downwards and backwards and in between his front legs with… Read more »
Marja van Run / The Netherlands / 7 Icelandic horses (working with Kría and Saegola) / EC 2010, 2011, 2012 / BTWHR 2012 / IC 2012
Guest
Dear Carolyn, This is truly a wonderful blog topic, there’s so much in it! What stood out the most for me was the part where you explain how ‘most riders feel their job is to stay on the horse rather than it being the job of the horse to stay under them’ and how important it is to have it the other way around. I already told you at the end of the BTWHR clinic how my ‘penny’ had really dropped regarding giving the horse his own responsibility. Watching the Single Lining exercise was a very important part of that.… Read more »
Diane Ursch
Guest
Diane Ursch
3 years 4 months ago
Dear Carolyn, Thank you so much for these lessons. What a gift. And what a wonderful way to spend these very cold, messy-ground days. I do not have single-lining experience, but have begun to try it with April from watching your previous video for the Bitless submission, and she caught on quickly. I am going to start this exercise with her tomorrow….I just know she will enjoy it. It will be my New Year’s present to her and her New Year’s present to me.:))) Your explanation plus the video provides the perfect direction. And thank you, Honey, for doing it… Read more »
Jannie Smit (IC Spring and Summer 2012)
Guest
Jannie Smit (IC Spring and Summer 2012)
3 years 4 months ago
Dear Carolyn, I am back home now since just over a week and so far I have only been in the paddock with my horses ST and some LFB and CW (daily). They have been away as well so it was a great time for all of us to get back together and for me a great time to digest everything I have learned in Escondido with you. We are the opposite from the UK, not only geographically but also with the weather. It is very dry and hot and we are waiting for some rain to freshen things up… Read more »
lisa hill
Guest
lisa hill
3 years 4 months ago

Dear Carolyn, Thank you for this second free lesson in training for bit-less riding. The video really helped me understand what the printed version was teaching. Even though Magnum and I have a long way to go for this. I am enjoying these lessons. I hope to try some when weather permits. I do want to work on the WHR and the UE’s. Being that it’s winter and the footing is slippery. Slow moving is the way to go and pass the winter months. Blessings to you and yours and all the bloggers for the New Year! Lisa & Magnum

Wilma (IC fall 2011)
Guest
Wilma (IC fall 2011)
3 years 4 months ago

Hello Carolyn
Very interesting!
I would like to schedule my second call, plus I have some video of mare and foal to send you.
Best wishes for the new year to you and yours!
Wilma

Carol Caddes, San Juan Capistrano, CA, EC 2011, EC 2012, BTWR 2011, 2012
Guest
Carol Caddes, San Juan Capistrano, CA, EC 2011, EC 2012, BTWR 2011, 2012
3 years 4 months ago
Hi Carolyn Happy New Year! It feels like it will be a great year–very heartfelt and meaningful. Love this blog. It explains A LOT. I like the schedule, the reasons, the goal, and the big picture. The video helps for a visual learner as myself. Can hardly wait to try it out on Norman. He arrives Monday the 31st. But first sharing territory! and letting him settle into his new home. So excited to have a horse and so grateful to have you in my life with all your wisdom, kindness, and generousity. Blessings in the New Year, Carol
Farah
Guest
3 years 4 months ago

Hi Carolyn!
Happy New Year from Farah and Mercury!

Ruella Yates
Guest
3 years 4 months ago

Dear Carolyn,
Thanks for the reminder about single-lining; it has been a wonderful training tool for my horse and pony. Happy New Year to all of you!
Joy,
Ruella

Joan
Guest
Joan
3 years 4 months ago

My horse is uncomfortable if I were to attempt to two line him. This is the perfect way to get him accustomed to first one side then the other. Now if the snow would go and temps would go up we’d have it made. Happy New Years to all.

Toni Farrell
Guest
Toni Farrell
3 years 4 months ago
Carolyn, What a wonderful and informative blog. Your explanation of the exercise was crystal clear, and the video captured the pictures you put in my mind. Winter is upon us here in Wisconsin, with much snow, and I have been looking for something a little different to do with my horses. My student is now out of Marine Boot Camp, and is coming over tomorrow afternoon for a day of horses and hot chocolate. This will be a nice slow exercise to do , along with the UE, with which to keep warm and have fun. Thanks, as always, for… Read more »
Leanna Kielian
Guest
Leanna Kielian
3 years 4 months ago
Carolyn, I wish you, your entire family (two and four legged members) and all of your students a happy new year filled with continued joy,peace and a ever deepening level of understanding and greater level of communication between them and their equines(or other) companions. Thank you for adding a paper saving way to easily print your blog. I often print them to sit in a cozy place or with the horses to savor your words and contemplate the messages, as they are a treat to be enjoyed not rushed at the key board for me. I am currently digesting the… Read more »
Regina Walter
Guest
Regina Walter
3 years 4 months ago

Thank you for sharing the lessons. Love seeing you work with the horses and your quiet calm nature.

Happy New Year
and many blessings in 2013
Regina

Stephanie Morse
Guest
3 years 4 months ago

Thanks Carolyn

That was great, I really appreciated the video, it helped a lot in understanding the training process.

I hope you have a wonderful New Year and it brings you all you wish (your special riding school?).

Susan Smith
Guest
3 years 4 months ago

Dear Carolyn, What a great reminder of single lining and its purpose in training. Thanks so much once again for an informative blog and Happy New Year to you!

Susan

Callie King
Guest
3 years 4 months ago

Thank you for this good information! I love doing these slow ground exercises when the ground is frozen solid, and riding is just a lost cause!

Katherine Harberd, UK, Spring 2012 IC
Guest
Katherine Harberd, UK, Spring 2012 IC
3 years 4 months ago
Thank you Carolyn for another really informative video in preparation for Bit-Less Dressage. What you covered in the video will also be of great help with my big mare who doesn’t have a consistently straight halt when walking on a line. We’ll enjoy playing with this when we’ve found somewhere that’s not knee-deep in mud. Walking horses in hand is treacherous (or, at least, unstable) when you are in danger of losing a boot on any step! Kizmet and I have applied for your new course but the video will have to wait until more solid footing. Look forward to… Read more »
Erica Dixon UK EC (spring '11) Izzy
Guest
Hi Carolyn So great to see the video of this from the clinic! As Joanna said, we are having problems in the UK with the wet weather, so practice has been limited. Its been the wettest year since records began. Luckily the horses’ place is on limestone rock so it does drain eventually, but even so everywhere is just waterlogged. Izzy is used to being single lined from behind as its one of my training methods whilst walking out young horses. Of course, I missed a BIG trick here which thanks to you I now know. You plugged a lot… Read more »
Rosemary
Guest
Rosemary
3 years 4 months ago

Happy New Year Carolyn!

This is wonderful. So timely for my 4 year old Andalusian that I think I started to ride too soon. I have backed up to double lining and it is going so much better, but this will absolutely be what I will do with him. I will back up again and single line. Thank you so much!!! Sometimes the fasted way is to go backwards!!!!!!

Rosemary

joanna blake
Guest
joanna blake
3 years 4 months ago

Dear carolyn, happy christmas and thank you so much for the second lesson. we are flooded here in the uk and I have no space to work other than the barn at a walk so i am going to practice this for 30 days and make a video and post here on the blog (I’ve been too shy before but got over that now as 2013 is all about making big changes!). this is such a gift to us all. happy new year and here’s to your liberty Spanish Riding School.
All the best,
Joanna

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