Testimonial by Guest Blogger Leah Dennis

I have been riding since I was six years old.  My most active of which was for a ten year period, where by the end of it, I was riding two or three times a week doing mostly dressage but also hunter/jumper work. As you can imagine, during that time period, I had many opportunities to learn horsemanship and practical riding skills.  I always felt, however, that there was a whole dimension that I was lacking in my experience, but since owning my own horse was not an option for me at the time, I felt that I had reached my limit.  How wrong I was!

My equestrian approach was always based in the best of intentions - for the love of horses, and the bond between horse and (wo)man.  I was always eager to learn more about these phenomena, but I was rarely given the opportunity to see beyond the formulaic and business-like one-hour group lesson.  There also always seemed to be such a focus on achieving dominance over the horse, which resulted in an unbalanced power dynamic and lots of unnecessary methods or harsh accessories to “correct” behaviors rather than searching deeper towards the cause.  This never sat right with me, but I also was not aware of another way at the time.

Working with Nina Heller, the founder of Bitless and Beautiful and Summerwood Stables, has been a transformative experience.  I finally feel the opportunity to explore a deeper relationship with horses - centered around riding bitless. As someone who had never thought bitless riding would be a practical or safe option, I was intrigued by the idea, but was absolutely shocked at the results.  Not only is riding bitless absolutely practical and safe, it is not limiting in the least.  As a rider, I almost immediately picked up where I had left off and I continue to work on dressage with a more rewarding and balanced approach.  I’ll never forget the first day I tried riding bitless with Nina and how effortless it was of a transition and how much happier the horses seemed.  I’m definitely a stronger rider through it as well, and I rest assured that my relationship with the horse I am riding is much more of a balanced partnership than before.  I’m excited for what is to come and I urge any equestrian to not be afraid to try riding bitless!

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