When I was young it was challenging finding my balance and riding with one rein. My mom explained how reins were just a tool. She explained that the best riders are perfectly balanced and communicate so much through slight changes in their balance and leg pressure. She explained how by just stretching up, you can stop your horse. I was intrigued by this concept. She lounged my hours on end as I learned how to ride, stop and move my horse forward with my hands out to the side without ever touching my riens. When I first started riding my pony Toby, ironically he didn’t like a bit or rein pressure. When we first took his bridle off, he actually liked it better than riding with a bridle. We had practiced upward and downward transition on the lounge line and had worked to teach him to move away from leg pressure. The transition to riding bridles came very easy, because I had worked hard to master the skills I needed. For exhibitions, I wear a neck rope and I most definitely use the neck rope to steer and stop, particularly on Rosie. Rosie’s routines are fast, technical and over jumps….and stopping is not her favorite thing to do with or with out a bridle. At home I ride a few of my horses without even a neck rope, like Jaco who is happy to stop on a dime. One reason I use the neck rope when jumping is I have a tool to use if I need it to find the “right distance”. When you are jumping, you need a more immediate response to ensure you have set your horse up for the “perfect” striding and take off point for the jump. Jumping out of stride is counter productive and sometimes unsafe. One day maybe I will be perform a routine with no tack at all, but even to jump bridleless with a neck rope requires some good training on the flat. The neck rope is a much softer tool than a bridle, your horse has to know how to be round and on his hocks in self-carriage even in just the neck rope. A neck rope is not a strong enough tool to lighten a heavy horse. Training a horse to go bridleless with or without a neck is a great for you and your horse, because you will need to learn to be balanced as a rider and your horse will need to learn to have self carriage! Every horse I ride including my babies, I ride bridleless with a neck rope. It is my test to see if they have self carriage. I still like the security of the neck rope for exhibitions. I feel more confidant choreographing more technical routines that would be challenging even in a bridle with the security of the neck rope. Maybe one day I will choreograph one without….you just have to wait to see!!!