Real life

Bitless and scared witless: a dangerous new left-wing cult

27 October 2018

9:00 AM

27 October 2018

9:00 AM

Just when you thought there was nothing more for women of the left to nonsensically oppose, I bring you news of a baffling development. Female horse-riders of a liberal persuasion are burning their bridles. Yes, there’s a new craze among the lunatic fringe of the horse world whose members are casting their reins on to the muck heap.

This trend is mainly confined to people who can’t ride very well and who are terrified of horses, making it extremely risky for all concerned.

You would have thought nervous riders would put extra tackle on for more control but the happy-clappy hippy-dippies of the horse community — who also happen to be the least skilled by a long chalk — are absolutely determined to throw off the shackles of imperialist oppression as personified by a nice leather Stübben bridle.

These people have been riding their horses unshod for a long time, claiming barefoot is kinder, even as their horse’s hooves crumble beneath their not inconsiderable middle-aged weight. Now they’re going hands-free, making them shoeless, clueless, bitless and scared witless.

I suppose they think that if they don’t pull on the horse’s mouth, the animal will like them more and give them less trouble.

This is an idea that is not even half-baked. It is totally unbaked and it has come, as usual, from the proponents of natural horsemanship. Naturally, it is going to end in tears.

I first encountered the bridleless cult on the Facebook page of a ‘friend’ who posted a video of herself hacking her horse bareback down a Surrey lane with only a makeshift rope round its neck.


The poor pony was doing its best to cooperate but was so confused about which way it was supposed to go as she sat there doing nothing that in the end it started going backwards, whereupon the girl leaned forward and stuck her hand under its nose, presumably offering it a treat or the illusion of a treat in order to entice it to move forwards.

This it did, for a few seconds, until the person in charge of the camera stopped videoing, presumably because the horse began to veer off in another direction, or perhaps trampled the camera-operator.

But no matter. Because dozens of horsey women on Facebook started liking the video and posting admiring comments such as: ‘Wow!…This is incredible!… What an inspiration!’

The girl herself hash-tagged the video #DreamsCanComeTrue. Well, yes, but not the dream of the poor dog walker who is going to get run over by you. Or the car driver who is going to have to slam on his brakes and career into a hedge if you appear out of nowhere going backwards in his direction on your way home.

Also, there is the issue of the Highway Code, which states that horses hacked out in public must always be ridden in a saddle and bridle.

I couldn’t see any alternative under the circumstances but to try to burst the bubble of the hysteria that was taking hold, so I posted a plea to anyone considering riding without a bridle to please think how they would move half a ton of animal quickly in the event of an emergency.

The girl promptly posted a tart reply saying that if I knew how to ride with my seat this would all seem easy to me. Yes, I replied, it would be easy for me, because I really can ride with my seat. I can show-jump with my arms out to the side, and I’ll challenge her to a hands-free riding duel any day of the week.

But how many of her hippy-horsey friends and followers can ride without reins? Had she thought of the skill set of the sample of riders she was influencing? They can’t ride with tack, never mind without.

But I’m afraid that barely 24 hours later, it began.

A lady I know said she went on a hack with a female companion who insisted that, as seen on Facebook, she was going to ride her horse without a bit in its mouth, just a sort of halter, you know, au naturel.

They got into the woods by default, the bridleless horse following the horse of my friend who did have a bridle on, and then the bridleless horse went bananas.

Not being under any form of control, it meandered wildly, pulling her in every direction to scoff the greenery until she dismounted, shaking with fear, and led it home.

You’d have to say: quod erat demonstrandum. But they don’t like science, this lot.

Back on Facebook, I’m told, the girl had posted more footage of herself going sideways down a track, pale-faced with terror. References were made to the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela. I can’t bring myself to look in case I contract the madness.

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