You better believe your eyes: throwback to Luciana Diniz jumping 1.60m without a bridle

  • There are many essentials to check off your list before you jump a 1.60m grand prix track and we’d say a bridle is right up there — not for Olympic showjumper Luciana Diniz, however.

    The Portuguese rider campaigned her chestnut gelding As-Taro 2 for many years, clearing some of the biggest tracks on the international circuit with little more than a leather bit and reins.

    Luciana explains: “He jumped enormously. But he was very sensitive in the neck. He felt very uncomfortable with a normal bridle, so I tried everything possible.

    “Until I realised that he jumped really well when he is only ridden with a bit, not with a bridle. We then achieved many placings, including third place in the grand prix of Rio De Janeiro and fourth place in the grand prix of Estoril.”

    Luciana Diniz is well known for her natural approach with her horses and adds: “The first step in our riding should always be to focus on the horse’s feelings. It is essential to take a meditative time together, every ride. The horses are our masters. If we truly listen to them each time we ride, they will tell us everything we need to know about themselves and about how to ride them.”

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    The bit that Luciana used on As-Taro was a very supple leather bit and British rider Nicole Pavitt also credits a similar piece of tack with helping to transform her headshy mare Festiena Van Texelhof in the ring a few years ago.

    “It cannot fall out of the mouth because there is an additional strap in the chin groove,” explains Luciana, who rode As-Taro until 2011.

    “At that time, I had tried out many bridle and bit variations. And sometimes I was really desperate when As-Taro again couldn’t make friends with my latest idea. But you just can’t give up. And you have to be open and willing to go the way of your horses. That’s what As-Taro really taught me.”

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