Saleem Without Reins

Saleem and I have been playing with a cordeo lately… Or, really, with a rope around his neck. I always wanted to be able to ride him without aids, and this simple rope is a good transition for both of us, I think.


Saleem is very gentle, and very attentive without the bridle. One of the things that stand out the most to me, is how quiet his head is. Usually, if he didn’t exactly understand what I wanted, he would grow frustrated and shake his head, but I am not getting that response at all. No headshaking, what so ever. In fact, he has never been more steady.

We do have a few issues. It is very important to me, that he doesn’t lose his shape. I want him to round himself around my inside leg,  and I want him to carry himself correctly, otherwise it is doing more damage than good, to not wear a bridle.


The thing is though, it is very easy to turn your horse, using your outside leg, but if you do that, the horse will hobble around on four stiff legs and it will tense the neck. Turning your horse around your inside leg, requires skill and training, when you don’t have a rein to guide the front of the horse with. In other words, it shows me, how good, or how bad, a rider I really am, and now well I have managed to train this horse. Removing the rein sure displays your short comings as a rider, especially if you are not willing to compromise the “frame” of the horse.



Another thing that strikes me about Saleem is that when we find the trot gear (and doesn’t mistake it for the “turn and bend” button,) he becomes what we in Denmark referrers to as a vacuum cleaner.  I know, I have spent the last three years, teaching him to lover his neckline, to stretch down and forward, rather than up and away, but still… I didn’t anticipate this response. Clearly, Saleem, if left to his own devices, is a star vacuum cleaner horse… And he finds comfort down there, if not entirely the self carriage I was looking for.




Quite an improvement from what he was three years ago, but  I still don’t want him hanging that much on his front. Too little, too much, you know.


Never lose sight of the end goal. So far, we are not cantering, simply because going from walk to trot is confusing enough for him as it is, and I want to be sure he won’t trip and fall over his own face once we do canter…

It feels a  little like breaking the horse in again, starting over on most counts, amending all the things  you installed wrong, the first time around, by the aid of the rein. Even if I do decide in the end, that the bridle and the bit might be the best solution for us, training this is not wasted. It is showing me myself and my horse in a raw and naked light, with very few options when it comes to masking faults and mistakes and shortcomings.

And, more importantly, it is preventing me from supporting him on the rein, which he keeps asking for when we have one, seeking reassurance from my hand. I have been going crazy, trying to avoid that, and here we are.




What did kick this off, was the fact that Saleem broke a tooth lately, (way, way back in his mouth,) and even though he has been eating normally and acting happy ever since my vet was by and help him with it, and even though my vet tells me to just ride him as if nothing had happened, I don’t want him to wear a bridle at the moment.



I am hysterical that way, but until we check him again next month, to see how the rest of the tooth is holding up, I really don’t want anything on his face if I can help it, no matter how normal he seems.

Right now, I am still holding my breath, hardly daring to believe that he can escape a broken tooth without being hospitalized, and not feeling too much like tempting fate by picking up where we left off… Nah, we’ll play with the rope for a while now, and see were that gets us…

IMG_6986 “Don’t hit the foal, don’t hit the foal!”


About Starstone

-Owned by horses. Writer, Photographer, Director, Musician.
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