Life With A Friesian Dream

Winter happiness and Friesian power

In collaboration with Horze

Finally we got some real snow! I have waited not so patiently since November, and when the winter wonderland suddenly appeared outside my window, the first thing I did was to head to Batman. Playing with the horse in the snow is literally the best thing ever. And Batman did not hesitate and gladly joined me in the field for some winter fun!

Today was also the perfect day to show you my new breeches and sweater from Horze. I finally ordered the Desiree-breeches, which you have probably seen on my blog before in a wish list or ten! My last pair of quality breeches from Horze got eaten by my rabbit last winter(!), and I have worn jeans in the stable ever since! I never wear them out, my rabbit eats them. True story. #lifewithrabbit

What I look for when I shop breeches:
– Pockets large enough to fit an iPhone or 4 carrots, also when you sit on the horse
– High quality fabric, a flexible feel and elegant details
– A good fit around the ankle
– Must be super comfortable during riding, walking, running and when sitting in a car

It felt amazing to finally ride in the Crescendo Desiree-breeches, and what I love most about them is the high waist and lovely details. I can’t stand riding, or walking, in breeches you can’t feel comfy moving around in. When I’m in the stable, I’m running, jumping, climbing and even crawling on the ground. I need a pair of breeches you never need to adjust. What. So. Ever.

So with a high waist, perfect fit, stretchy fabric and decorative silicone knee patch, the Desiree-breeches is by far the most beautiful and the most comfortable pair of breeches I have ever worn. I could easily wear them outside the stable because of the stylish look.

My lovely new sweater is the warm and comfy Reykur Fleece, also from Horze. I have many old fleece sweaters in XXL, looking more like a tent really, and wanted something a bit more feminine and practical to wear while riding. The Reykur fleece looks great on, it’s got large pockets with space for iPhones and carrots, and during the session with Batman in the field, I did actually not freeze!

Enough outfit-talk, enjoy the sight of my incredible, playful, proud and gorgeous Batman!

A huge thanks to Stina for today’s amazing photos, I’m forever grateful.

Peace, love and Friesian hugs,
Batman & Matilde



 

Life With A Friesian Dream

Six common mistakes to avoid when you are riding bridleless

Riding horses without a bridle or reins, with a so called neckrope or cordeo, is becoming more and more popular. I’m a huge fan of bridleless riding, and think most riders would learn a lot if they ditch the reins every now and then. But riding bridleless is not about simply removing the bridle!

DON’T FORGET TO READ: Bridleless for beginners

We all do mistakes, and that’s natural. Starting to ride bridleless is a journey – and you will be learning every single day. But in the beginning, it can be smart to keep this list in mind to make the process a little bit easier.

1. You are placing your cordeo higher to gain more control

I often see riders pull their neckrope waaay to high and then use it as a pain device to gain control. If you do so, you are so far from soft riding and equal communication as possible. This is an extremely vulnerable part of the horse’s throat! You can actually do damage to the arteries, and other vessels and pipes located in this area almost unprotected. Never place your neckrope higher because it makes the horse easier to ride. The neckrope are supposed to rest on the chest and only be used for seconds at the time, with a light hand. Every tool used wrong can easily be turned into a torture device.

horse_neck_anatomy
Correctly placed cordeo and the anatomy of the horse’s throat.

2. You are removing the bridle on a horse who is not ready

Riding bridleless is not riding with a cordeo or neckrope, it is about riding with your body and seat as your primary aid, not using the rope to steer with. Simply taking off the bridle of a horse that has always been ridden with reins is dangerous. Learn more about how you can prepare a horse for bridleless riding here.

3. You are pulling the neckrope in frustration

Just because you are without reins, it does not mean that you can’t cause damage. A rope around the horse’s neck is a rope around its neck, so handle it with care. Pulling harder to make your horse stop won’t help. Never use force. Use a bridle with reins for safety and use the reins instead if needed.

cordeo neckrope

4. You are trying to ride in trot or canter before mastering the walk

The first time you are trying to ride without reins should be a shorter session with focus on walk and halt-transitions for light signals. Don’t run around. If you master the walk, you will also master the canter. Focus on the small, important things. Feel how the horse responds to your seat, and praise a lot when he willingly does a good halt for a very light signal. If you spend time in the beginning perfectioning the walk, canter an trot will be easy. If the first thing you do is to gallop around, you will lack a lot of perfection of signals later.

bridleless_dressage_neckrope_cordeo
You’ll get to do anything you usually does bridleless as well pretty soon – don’t hesitate in the beginning.

5. You are not inside a safe area

The first times you are trying neckrope without a bridle on for safety, you should be inside an arena or paddock with fences – not on an open field or on a hack. All horses can spook. When you are going outside the arena for the first time – use a bridle with reins and let the reins rest on the horse’s neck. You can pick them up if you need them.

bridleless_hack
Hacking bridleless is a lot of fun – but behind this photo? Five years of hard, dedicated training.

6. You are constantly giving signals with the neckrope

When you ride with a neckrope, you should only lift the neckrope slightly for a few seconds when you give a signal, and then let it rest on the horse’s neck again. There are no need for having contact at all times. Give your signal, and release. Follow the horse’s movement with your body, and keep attention to its body language. That should be your main focus.

DSC_3726 copy

 

Do you ride bridleless?

Peace, love and Friesian hugs,
Batman & Matilde

Life With A Friesian Dream

Are you never afraid?

I remember someone commented below one of my photos, and asked me: are you never afraid around Batman? And I think that is a very important question.

Because I can be very afraid, and I still struggle with anxiety after our many accidents. I am so far from a brave rider you can possibly get! I can be terrified of riding Batman in open, windy areas like fields or beaches. Who would think that based on the photos of us cantering in a field tackless? Well, the truth is that it is absolutely possible to have anxiety when it comes to riding in open areas, but be able to canter through a large field on a good day.

It all depends on how it feels that day. Batman can be spooky, and even through his nerves are better than they used to be, my mind remembers it so very well, back in the days, when a person walking down the road could scare Batman so much that he just ran away and I had no chance of stopping him. I remember it so well. I will never forget the feeling of losing control as the horse accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in the matter of seconds and it goes so fast that you can barely see, all you know is that there is no way to stop the horse because he is simply blocking you and everything else out. He fears for his life and he is running from the danger. That’s the most terrifying feeling EVER.

horse tackless neckrope1
I can still feel the fear of losing control in open areas. I don’t feel very brave when I shake before a small canter in a field at home …

Batman stopped bolting many years ago. The past three years he has barely spooked with me. He is usually calm and relaxed, if he gets scared the worst thing he can do is to jump a few meters forward. No problem. But unfortunately, knowing that does not always help on my anxiety, as my body literally prepares to fall off and die every time I can feel his heartbeat go faster and I know that he is seeing or hearing something I can’t. We have had some pretty ugly falls together, and one of them was a winter when snow started to fall from the arena’s roof, and the door was only halfway open. Batman saw the 1 meter wide door and ran towards it. It was blocked with a tall barrel. He jumped over the barrel in panic, though the 1 meter wide door with me on. I fastened my leg in the door, and got thrown several meters in the air, halfway on and halfway stuck in the stirrup before I hit the ice outside. It was hard, thick ice. It literally felt like all my intensities came out. I could simply not walk or stand afterwards, and cried all night because of the horrible pain in my pelvis and back.

But of course, nothing like that happens anymore! It is years ago since last time. Batman is SO calm most of the time, and if he is not, I know that long before something happens so I can simply dismount. I am thankfully not scared of riding in arenas anymore, but if I can hear a noise from outside, I feel horrible anyway. Unsafe and scared, because I have injured myself so badly before and am aware that there is a limit on how many more concussions my head can take. I know Batman simply does not bolt anymore. He never runs away when he is scared. I will basically always manage to jump off if anything happens. I know this. But my body and mind remember so very well the feeling of being completely helpless as the horse starts running right into the dense woods and you know that you simply can’t stop him.

beach friesian tackless cordeo neckrope
I really had to challenge myself and face my fear on our first beach ride. We had never been to the place before, it was a huge open area, the horses could run 5 km back to the trailer if they got loose or spooked and I cantered on that beach tackless. It was a huge step for me, and I was so proud afterwards. It went amazing.

I have been traumatized. But I can’t let that keep me from having fun with Batman, so I chose to challenge my fear every single day. I push myself, over and over again. And every time I do, I feel a little safer next time.

Most days, Batman is his normal self. Down to earth, calm and relaxed. Canter bareback and bridleless through a field? No problem. He is mostly easy to communicate with. He is also a horse who ALWAYS stands like a rock if he can feel me being scared. Sometimes I can actually shake while sitting on his back… And instead of getting nervous about that, he supports me; as I support him when I can feel him getting nervous. But some days, he can be spooky and highly sensitive to every single noise or movement, and on days like that, no way I’m taking the bridle off.
It’s okay to be scared. It’s okay to take precautions. We are handling animals six times our size, with instincts. We have to be careful. I love Batman with all my heart and I trust him, we have a great bond, we know each other very well. You can have that and anxiety at the same time. And it is okay.

But please, don’t stop challenging yourself; the magic often happens beyond the comfort zone. Take your time. Breathe. Praise your horse a lot. Safety first. Take precautions. Have a bombproof fjord horse or something by your side. And try! And it is so wonderful when you dare to push yourself, and it feels amazing afterwards. And with time, the anxiety might fade out, and the fears will be an old memory hidden in your head.

«Try and fail, but never fail to try»

Do you struggle with anxiety when riding horses? If so, how do you handle it? Please share your thoughts below.

Peace, love and Friesian hugs,
Batman & Matilde

friesian tackless

Life With A Friesian Dream

Yesterday, this was the 167th most read blog in Norway!

WOW! Today I suddenly appeared at the national Norwegian top list, featuring the most read blogs in Norway, www.blogglisten.no (they only count Norwegian readers).

That’s pretty awesome for a Norwegian alternative equestrian blogger writing about riding bridleless and playing around with her huge Labrador-Friesian from the ground with a bunch of carrots and no fancy tack, competitions and shows, outfits of the day and expensive, shiny riding boots! Most equestrian bloggers does the absolute opposite of me, and yet people seem interested to learn more about my philosophy. I had no idea the world will show such interest in how I look at horse training!

I’m extremely proud and very grateful – THANK YOU SO MUCH for reading my blog!

Which country are YOU from?

Peace, love and Friesian hugs,
Batman & Matilde

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