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Blue Ribbons and Bitless!

Dressage Naturally recently sponsored a couple of awards at DunMovin Farms Adult Amateur Dressage Schooling Show in September. We sponsored the high score Natural Horseman's Test Of Choice as well as the Most Harmonious award. Each winner received 3 months free in the Video Classroom. Congratulations go to Wendy Barchowsky and her horse, Sweetie, for winning the Natural Horseman's Test Of Choice with a 69.4% and Verne Sullivan and her horse Bandelaro who won the Most Harmonious Award. She did Training Level test 1 bareback!

I can't just leave it at that... there is a little more of a story!

The rest of this story is about being open.

It turns out that Wendy won her class while riding in the DN Bitless Riding Halter! I love hearing that there are schooling show organizers and judges that are open-minded enough to let this happen. I found out about this show through a DN student, Joanne Silverman. Joanne was actually someone that I took lessons from years ago. It was when she got pregnant that I started taking lessons from Anne Gribbons (and the rest, as they say, is history!) A few years ago Joanne came across my DN book and now is an avid student in the Video Classroom and the Virtual Arena. How awesome is it that Joanne was open enough to allow herself to be taught by someone she used to teach! How often do we let our egos get in the way of that sort of openness?

Joanne (dressage) met Wendy, (natural horsemanship) and they were both open to each other's ideas.

Wendy Barchowsky in Dressage Naturally Bitless Bridle horse horse
(Pictured above is Wendy and Sweetie wearing the DN bitless bridle)

Open to new ideas...

In Joanne's words:  

I met Wendy a couple of years ago.  She was deep into Parelli and desperately wanted to do some dressage but could not find a connection with this horse.  I was deep into dressage and needed help with Parelli.  I moved to her barn and we just started helping each other.  Her mare is interesting.  Super light and would always "float above the bit".  She also had no confidence at all with a bit. She has made slow progress and then this month Karen put out [a video] that gave me an idea.  I gave Wendy my DN bitless riding halter and as Karen would say "Tada!"  It all started to come together...

 ... She won the Natural Horsemanship class with a 69.4.  She was over the moon!  She was quite the stir in the warmup ring in her bitless and people walked over to watch her ride.  (not too much pressure)  I have never seen this horse go so well!  This really was a "regular" dressage show but the owners of the farm are very in to Natural Horsemanship.  I was a little concerned how the judge would judge a bitless but her comments were spot on.  We had no surprises and she rewarded what was good and had good comments for the weaknesses we were well aware of.  She came up to us after and wanted to know more about the riding halter thinking there was "something" in the noseband.   Her final comment to us was "that was a beautiful ride considering you had no bit!"  We found that humorous and hopefully it planted the seed that you don't need a bit to have a beautiful ride!

After that we had many people coming up and asking for information.  People really are looking for a better partnership with their horse.

In Wendy's words:

My partnership with my horse has become amazingly strong after our long soaks of relaxation and a few tid bits of energy which combined together has turned into a large pot of balance stew. My journey with my friend Joanne Silverman has been nothing but amazing. When we met we lived on opposite ends of the rainbow, her dressage at one end and my natural horsemanship skills at the other. Over this past year we have combined our abilities and really complement each other (almost finishing each others thoughts). She has been such a great help sharing her Dressage Naturally knowledge, and I thank her for that.

This Sunday was pretty amazing, I took Sweetie my horse to her second dressage show. I entered in the Natural Horsemanship class and rode her in your bitless riding halter, well it was actually Joanne's and won the class. I was very surprised at all of the positive comments and loud clapping from the other competitors and spectators. People actually went out of their way to come watch my ride. Sweetie was a great poster child this weekend sporting the bitless halter.

Be The Change You Want To See In The World

I love the story of Joanne, Wendy and this Schooling Show. It is a little piece of how I dream the world can be. 

If anyone knows any competitions that are open to holding bitless classes, we here at Dressage Naturally would like to support them by sponsoring classes or awards. Please email us at info@dressagenaturally.net to help us get in contact with them!

Enjoy ... The Dressage Queen and Natural Horseman

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by Karen Rohlf

Karen Rohlf profile image

Need help with your horse? Click HERE to watch three of Karen’s training videos that give unique solutions for 3 of the most common challenges horses and riders face.

Karen Rohlf, author and creator of the Dressage Naturally program, is an internationally recognized clinician who is changing the equestrian educational paradigm. She is well known for doing dressage with a priority of partnership, her student-empowering approach to teaching, her virtual courses, and her positive and balanced point of view.

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