At fairs, show events or immortalised in YouTube videos - the interaction of rider and horse without bridle with only a thin neck ring inspires the spectator.
Already at first sight it becomes clear: I want that too! The fine connection that exists despite the absence of reins and bits fascinates not only leisure riders. Professional dressage, show jumping and western riders also like to include neck ring riding in their training. And not without reason.
After all, the advantages of riding with a neck ring for equestrian sports are not to be sneezed at:
- Training of balance, i.e. the correct and rein-independent seat
- refinement of the aids, especially the weight and leg aids
- clear communication between horse and rider
- great team building thanks to trust on both sides
- promotes a better sense of balance and body awareness in the horse
Yes, neck ring riding can actually make you a better rider and promote partnership with your horse. You learn to use your body more precisely, i.e. weight and thighs more actively take over most of the steering and speed control. Unfortunately, many riders rely on their bridles. Almost impossible with a neck ring. The usual parades no longer exist.
Here it becomes clear: cheating doesn't work at all!
What equipment do you need?
First and foremost, a sturdy neck ring is sufficient. A rigid construction made of stable lasso material or rope with a firm inner life makes it easier for you and your horse to get started.
Progressively, there is the equitation rein.
This size-adjustable rein ring made of biothane with padding and an integrated D-ring for ground work is a great working tool. It can be used as a balance rein with the snaffle or without the head piece. It is therefore a versatile tool for experienced "neck ring riders".
You can find a similar model from Linda Tellington Jones, for example. This strap also helps your horse to find the right way to a healthy posture.
Short definition of the balance rein:
This variation is mostly used in combination with the bridle. By softly accepting and yielding the bridle while riding, the horse is encouraged to lift more in front, to relax the lower neck muscles and to take more weight on the hindquarters. By yielding, the animal then finds the right balance and learns to carry itself correctly. Whether western or classical riding - every equestrian sport benefits from this.
The aids when riding with a neck ring
- The horse is ridden with one hand, but you can change hands at any time.
- Basic position just before the withers, if clearer help is needed also a little further towards the neck.
- physical focus as well as thigh, weight and voice aids
- By placing the ring on one side of the neck, the direction is indicated (see below: First steps).
- gentle, accepting impulses (parrying through)
Your personal checklist for a good start
- not be a beginner
- have a secure seat independent of the reins
- have a good command of the aids
- have an enclosed riding arena, lungeing circle or round pen at your disposal
- then practice riding with a neck ring when no one else is riding who could be disturbed during training.
- get suitable equipment
- Prepare yourself and your horse well
- Organise a companion (who can accompany you passively on the lunge line in the beginning and intervene if necessary).
- Wear a helmet
- Trust your horse
Your horse should
- be able to take himself back and stop via the seat
- pay attention to your voice aids, e.g. "halt" for stop or "easy" for slow down.
- already be familiar with putting on and wearing the neck ring
- Be able to trust you
Let your friend sniff it first. If he is interested - praise him!
Gently stroke his neck and head with it. If it's ok for him - praise!
If he reacts with a bit of withdrawal - keep at it. If he becomes calmer and allows you to touch him - remove the ring - praise! So step by step until he puts it on and wears it.
For example, you can always put the ring on at the end of your training session and lead your treasure dry with it or ride him dry (without the influence of the ring!). This way your horse will immediately associate it with something positive.