Tackless rider’s hopes to compete without saddle and bridle

  • A rider who regularly rides without saddle or bridle is hoping to compete tackless at local events.

    Lily Warburton and her 17.2hh Irish draught Gordon have amassed more than 60,000 followers on Instagram thanks to their tackless adventures, including beach rides and jumping.

    Lily told H&H she was inspired by seeing others “free riding” on social media, and that 16-year-old Gordon took to it “like a duck to water”.

    “I did a couple of sessions on getting him used to the neck rope and responding to me shifting my weight, and since then we’ve done it everywhere,” she said.

    “When I first rode him, I lost my stirrups and barely noticed, so I thought ‘if I can ride without stirrups, I can ride without a saddle’, then ‘if I can ride without a saddle, I can ride without a bridle’.

    “I just love it. It’s hard to describe but it’s the feeling of having absolute control, yet nothing between you and the horse.”

    Lily says she feels more in control without than with tack, and that she hopes to be able to ride without even the neck rope, although this is a “work in progress”.

    “People at the yard think I’m absolutely mad but I’m always in control,” she said.

    “He’s a real smooth armchair ride anyway but sometimes, if he’s a bit on his toes, I take the tack off and he goes quiet.

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    “I think it comes naturally to Gordon and I swear he prefers jumping tackles as it gives him more freedom to have his head and stretch his back. And I prefer it because it’s more comfortable and I can control him a lot better.”

    Lily is now hoping her local venues will allow her to compete without at least some of her tack.

    “Maybe not bareback as I think safety rules would come in but even without a bridle would be good,” she said. “I hunt him and was talking about doing that tackless – but I don’t think the master appreciated it, so maybe not!”

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