Monday, August 24, 2015

It's Time for Change...

Well it came and went.
That inevitable breaking point where my students and I faced our last straw.
And so begins our march for change.

Karen Rohlf, Dressage Naturally

We have started the Ontario Bitless Organization.
A group where bitless riders, trainers, owners and supporters (yes even those who ride with bits!) can come together to start discussing how on Earth we are going to change our Equestrian community to allow the inclusion of bitless into the show ring.
This is a group who will be inclusive of all in favour of excellent horsemanship regardless of their tack, training methods or husbandry. Because at the end of it all; as long as the horse is healthy and happy.. we are doing it right by them.
The horse comes first.

Bitless in the Jumper Ring

So I am writing this blog as an outcry to my fellow bitless supporters.
There is an entire community of riders being excluded from show.
They are a large group of horsepeople who want the ability to enjoy showing just as much as the rest of us already do.
They want to be able to go into the show ring without dirty looks, off glances and rolling eyes; to showcase the hard work they have put in with their horse.
They want to be represented by a governing body in the Equestrian world who believes in them.
They want to represent a larger group of individuals; be a part of a community.

Bitless Dressage

And right now they are being told that they cannot do that.
They have to change how they have chosen to train their horses, because an old rule book, in desperate need of updating, tells them that's the way it is.
This is the way it's always been.

Research into classical dressage will tell you otherwise.
As far back as the 1600s horses were started in a bitless cavesson and trained without a bit to "save the horses mouth" for finer movements and finesse. A bit was not introduced for a full year; so the horses would learn self carriage, confidence and body aids. The bit was added as a finesse tool for refinement of these teachings; not as control.
Many forms of horsemanship follow these same principles now.

Karen Rohlf trains her dressage horses first in bitless to encourage confidence and natural self carriage before introducing a bit for refinement. Though many of her horses she states she would never start in a bit as they don't need it. This is a phenomenal article on why the choice needs to be allowed; to use a bit or not.

Parelli encourages using a natural hackamore (bitless rope hackamore) in freestyle riding before introducing a bit for refinement.

Josh Nichol encourages use of bitless sidepulls to find softness and feel with your horse through rein aids.

Wrangler Jayne supports an entirely bit-free horsemanship practice by using horse psychology to motivate the horse to want to work, bringing out extravagant and exuberant movement the horse naturally has.

These are only a few examples of many horse trainers from around the world who recognize the need to allow bitless riders into show. At the end of it all; it needs to be the educated choice of the trainer, rider and horse of what tack will be used for show. Exclusion of a choice that affects thousands of riders is not the community I want to support. Changing one sentence in a rule book, removing one tack exception and continuing on our merry way seems a lot easier and more beneficial to our industry than vice versa.

Please help us in our fight to end the exclusion of bitless in showing!
End the Exclusion of Bitless in Show
We need everyone to sign this petition, and join our Bitless Organization!

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