Campfire Story by June at Cortijo Los Lobos in Malaga, Andalucia, Spain.
We weren't always into bitless and barefoot riding. We rescued a couple horses, and the events that transpired shortly thereafter changed us and our herd forever.
Twelve years ago, we saw an advertisement in the local paper for a mare and foal. Their owner had become ill and he was desperately looking for a home for them. They lived in a nearby village, so we decided to go and have a look. Once we saw Capri and her foul, Bonny, in their small unkept enclosure, we couldn't turn a blind eye. We had to take them home with us.
Once we got home, we rode Capri in the arena and she was wonderful—very responsive with nice manners. She lost a shoe that first day, so we called the farrier. It turned out that she was terrified of farriers! She was so traumatized that she was rearing up and almost falling over backwards. The farrier sedated her to be able to replace the shoe.
The following day, it was clear that something was wrong. I called the vet, thinking that perhaps it was a problem with her teeth. The vet discovered that the farrier had accidently blown the vein and it was causing Capri tremendous pain in her neck and head.
This was to be the start of riding all our horses in bitless bridles. From this day on, she could not bear any contact with her head. This meant that I had to learn very quickly how to ride without contact.
**How did you work through those issues and retrain the horses to use bitless bridles? In what ways did your horses respond positively to your new riding technique and the bitless bridle? This is an opportunity show people how you made the transition.**
Once I saw how it could be achieved with Capri, there was no reason not to ride all the horses this way.
**Can you describe how going bitless and barefoot benefit the horses? This is an opportunity to make a case for both. Maybe something about how barefoot can help with blood circulation which will keep them healthier and help prevent joint and hoof injury. As for bitless, maybe something bout: The Bitless Bridle controlling by non-painful pressure on the poll, cheek and nose by a double loop system. It allows for a more natural position of the head and neck, which allows the horse's airway at the throat and tongue to be in a natural position, and, therefore, obtains more oxygen and has more energy. Also, the Bitless Bridle improves balance, lightening the forehand, lengthening the stride, strengthening impulsion and increasing speed.**
Now, at age twenty-four, Capri is a kind, gentle horse. She's a great role model to Bonny, and also her subsequent foal Picasso. She still thinks she is a race horse—she loves to gallop yet will stop on a dime with the tweak of a finger on her head collar.
I am so grateful to her for teaching me that it is possible to ride bitless. I'm grateful that I had the chance to give her a home and help her recover from her trauma.
**Can you describe what proper living conditions are for a horse and what you've created for the herd at Cortijo Los Lobos?**
Learn more about Cortijo Los Lobos on their Community Page.