I've been spending a lot of time thinking about my goals for myself and Sora over the past few days.
One thing I've been thinking about is about Dressage and Dressage competition. I've said on here before that I want to do a little of everything with Sora and also that I have no interest in getting to the upper levels of Dressage. Something I haven't mentioned here is the fact that while I've always wanted to be able to show Sora I have no interest in competing for ribbons, competition, or certainly money. The only reason I would like to be able to show her is so that I can be in that environment with other horse people. Which is the same reason I love going trail riding or simply riding with friends. To me its the people and the environment that I lack here where I wish so much to have others to ride with and simply to talk to about horses. I was pushed at a young age to compete with my instruments and it was a very serious, life altering thing whether I won or did well or not because it meant getting into a better school, getting scholarships etc. I NEVER want horses to be that for me.
The reason that I realized this is that I've been thinking long and hard about going bitless. Starting with when I first got Sora and wanted to do everything for her the best way I could. I had a reminder of that when I was so successfully riding her with only her halter and more recently as I was going through this Bitless horse blog. Last night while I was at school I was doing some more research and I stumbled on this website and felt like I'd come home and found a family I never knew I had. The people on the forum are open and offer warm encouragement to each other even if different views are expressed. This is what Dressage to me is truly about and should be about. This is the kind of relationship I have always wanted to have with Sora and always been too embarrassed, or pressured to express.
I've always felt that a Bit was a very useful tool and that people who never rode with one were extremists but the more I see and read and think about it the more a different kind of riding makes sense to me. Because of that, last night when I got home from school at 11:00 I went out to be with Sora and to think. I brought her into the barn and while she had a snack I groomed her and got some of the knots out of her mane. For about half an hour we just spent time together and I carefully mulled all of this over in my head. Finally I made a decision and went in to the tack room, took the bit off her bridle and hung it up. It felt very symbolic and I know it will completely change my future with not just Sora but with any horse I end up owning.
I feel like I've made the right decision for me and for Sora and for the first time I feel like a weight is off my shoulders and I know where I'm going with her. Ever since last fall when I posted on COTH I've realized that I really don't fit in with most of the Dressage crowd but now I've found my tribe =)
This picture is of Sora's first trail ride, almost her first time on the road, when she was still slightly scared of cars. It also turned out to be the first time we'd canter. I rode her in just her halter because I completely trusted her and she proved me right. Even slowing down next to another horse from a canter to a trot with just a tightening of my hands on the reins.