It’s been a couple of weeks at the time of writing this, since I arrived home from the UK tour. I was excited to share this workshop around the UK and I wasn’t disappointed with the fantastic feedback received and turnout in both England and Wales.

Since beginning my own bitless journey 2 years ago, I’ve researched, tried and tested dozens of bridles to learn more and understand both how they work and how they affect the horse. This tour was to share my knowledge and how I work and introduce bitless to both horse owners and professionals alike with the release of my new Bitless 101 guide.

Bitless 101 Cambridgeshire

Practical Experience of Bitless

Starting in Cambridge, I was delighted to meet the first set of eager participants including Sally and her team at Witcham Equestrian Centre who also attended the workshop. We used the morning to talk about bridle fitting and basic anatomy, I introduced the skull (Mr ‘Ed) and horse dummy (Shergar) with lots of hands on interaction and practical skill setting. In the afternoon I rode one of the horses who turned out to be a really interesting character and told us how much he didn’t care for the mounting block. An instructor participant took part in the ridden session and it was brilliant to get positive feedback from another trainer. One of the differences with my ridden sessions, is that I care most about how the horse feels, and less about putting on a show. This particular session, the horse asked for downward stretching, and getting used to the new balance and feel without the bit, he engaged relatively quickly and was a joy to demo bitless transitioning.

101 TRAINING TIP: When I first transition a horse, I do so in an enclosed space, such as a small(ish) arena. I introduce the new bridle slowly. I give the horse time to settle and I never move off until I feel my ride relax. I practice all of the cues on the ground first before applying ridden. Giving the horse time to process the new bridle, time to understand the cues and time to stretch out and re balance.

Bitless 101 Hampshire

Practical Assessment for Bridle Fit & Type

The second workshop was held at Quob Equestrian Centre in Southampton. A smaller, very friendly group awaited me and I found this gave us a little extra time – in which I was presented with lots of very good questions and it was great to explore off content and in to some bio-mechanics and technique. We were pleased to be joined by a volunteer rider for the demo, to whom I gave a short instruction working with an older riding school horse. It was interesting working with two different bridles and hearing the responses of the group. The horse was reported to be quite sluggish, so we added the bosal which removed a lot of directional pressure and soon he was moving around much faster and freer without use of any whip. It shows how bitless can sometimes remove us from ourselves, that we give the horse more freedom, they will have the ability to give more back. This was a very different demo to the previous workshop, but just as valuable.

101 TRAINING TIP: Bitless presents itself as not just an alternative bridle, but a new way of thinking about your other rider aids. Bitless is brilliant for revealing our true skills as riders and supports us to become better as well as for our horses to enjoy the feeling of freedom of the mouth. Think about your hands and how little you should need them. Neither fear nor hands shouldn’t stop horses.

Bitless 101 Yorkshire

Another day, another group and being in my hometown, I could hear the Leeds accent pouring out of me! A lovely group of ladies, we had some lively interactions with both the skull and dummy. We also had a guest bridle to try out and some really interesting discussions. In the afternoon we took to the garden as it was so nice to take in some equine psychology and busting some bitless myths. We met 2 beautiful horses and at the request of the owner, fitted a Transcend to demo. Riding a very sensitive horse it was lovely to ride on the buckle, demonstrating this time riding techniques for using the legs and seat with the rein as a 3rd level guide. Her owner hopped on board and also enjoyed a ridden session – also ordering a bridle for her horse.

This workshop was hosted at Equine Pathways UK – an amazing charity that rescues horses and retrains them as therapy ponies for people needs social and/or emotional support. In total we raised £211 from the tour, thank you to all the donations from the Positive Horsemanship Day and EP also contributed a % from the Leeds ticket sales.

101 TRAINING TIP: Think about where your horse is at today, are they in the same place you want to be? It’s okay not to stick to the plan, in fact going off plan and taking things slowly can often help you be where you want to be, faster. Try everything in walk and see just how little effort you need to make before you try in trot.

Bitless 101 Wales

Sadie Beech riding Flicka

The final leg of the tour was held at Sadie Beech Horsemanship in North Wales, on possibly the hottest day in 2019! What a scorcher it was, but with a superb host looking after us, it was an enjoyable workshop working with a very relaxed herd in a beautiful setting. Sadie demoed riding her horse Flicka, who tried out both a bosal and a Transcend. Sadie has since joined as a Transcend Trainer, so if you would like to try out a Transcend bridle in the North Wales and surround areas, please contact Sadie.

101 FITTING TIP: Not all bitless bridles suit all horses, it’s important to assess individual horses and listen to what feels right for them. If your horse is showing signs of higher sensitivity, ask why. If you would like to learn the assessment skills and about bitless bridles for yourself, the Bitless 101 V2 is now available in print and digital.

 

Bitless 101 Reviews

“Full of really useful information.. Excellent value for money will definitely be doing more workshops.” – Sarah B

“Brilliant workshop, would highly recommend to anyone interested in learning about bitless bridles and how to fit any bridle correctly.” – James T

“Absolutely wonderful clinic with Phillipa. I learnt so much about the anatomy and physiology of the face and the affects of different bits and bitless. The practical training was great seeing what pressure points the horse liked or didn’t. Allowing the horse to choose best bitless to suit their preferences as opposed to solely ours. It changed that perspective. Wonderful to watch Phillipa showing fitting of bitless and transitioning on a horse that was previously using a bit. The clinic was incredibly inspirational and I highly recommend attending a day. Phillippa’s presentation skills and warm engaging nature allowed us to feel comfortable asking any questions and I came away feeling more confident in my abilities to use a bitless in the future. I met lots of other lovely people too. Thank you” – Jo S

“What a great workshop! Learnt so much, especially the live demo and working with the horses, an excellent opportunity to fully understand what bitless does and doesn’t do for your horse, would strongly recommend!” – Nicky S

Following the clinic I was able to meet up with Nicky, one of the participants and fit this double Transcend, she added this bridle review later…

“Love our new Transcend, I’ve gone from a pony who had issues with a traditional bitted bridle and is now so happy to be wearing and working in her Transcend ☺️would recommend to anyone!!”

Following the Southampton clinic Sally had a 1-2-1 fitting and ordered a custom Transcend Double. Here is her message “Annie’s beautiful bridle arrived today! I’m so pleased with it! She looks beautiful in it!” I was happy to help a few other workshop participants with new bridles and look forward to receiving their feedback and photos.

More reviews…

“I attended a full day Bitless workshop today – cannot recommend enough, lots of information, clear explanations, excellent resources! Phillipa took you through the whole process and explained clearly how all the different bridles work. The day really gave you a good insight into why/how to go bitless and how to ensure the transition period was safe for you and your horse. Good value too. Thank you !” – Chris K

“Excellent clinic. Great balance of anatomy, bitless design and fitting. Phillipa has an excellent teaching style and her work on very well researched.” – Tricia C

“I went away with an indepth knowledge of choosing a bitless bridle that will suit your horse a very helpful clinic thank you” – Debbie Or

“Phillippa is such a warm and patient lady her teaching skills are excellent I had a thoroughly enjoyable day and came home SOO much wiser and keen to learn more Thank you Phillippa whatever you do please dont stop so many people out there (AND HORSES)would BENEFIT from your knowledge. !” –  Annie K

Reflections

Thank you to all of the attendees and hosts! It was a brilliant experience to work with a range of people with different backgrounds in the horse world. I did find a common factor across all of the wonderful people I met on this tour, and that is that they are looking beyond what tradition dictates, because they are willing to explore and learn in order to understand their horses better. This is my own path too and I was so happy to have the pleasure of meeting so many others on their own path, doing the most wonderful things and I look forward to meeting you all again.

Thank you for being a part of my journey!

 

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