Horse owners who are interested in history may recognize the name Jesse Beery. Beery was a hugely famous horse trainer of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

He learned to train horses at a very young age. It was clear that he had a gift for horse training and made it his life’s work.

Among the almost countless things Beery could do with a horse, he taught them tricks. One of the most amazing tricks he learned was teaching a horse to ride without lines. (In layman’s terms you have no long reins (known as lines) connected to the horse. The only connection to the horse is the carriage attached to the horse) This trick almost defies belief!

Beery had this to say about driving a horse without lines: “Although I do not advocate that there is a universally practical way of driving a horse, it is nevertheless possible to train the horse so thoroughly to certain cues that he can be more controlled reliable under tension and in case of danger it would be possible to manage him with bridle and lines.”

Beery says there are a number of ways to teach a horse this, but suggests his method as the most reliable.

In a nutshell, Beery first turned his horse loose in a corral about 25 feet. He would go in with a whip and teach the horse to trust him and not fear the whip. (The horse is never whipped).

When the horse has learned to come to the handler on the command of “Come here” and shows no fear of the whip while it is gently waved over the head and body, and will follow the handler around the entire ring, then you have laid a good foundation for further instruction.

Put the horse away until the next day where the horse learns signals from the whip.

That process is as follows: Stand close to the horse’s hip and take a short whip and lightly tap the right shoulder until the horse, expecting to drive a fly off, will swing its head around to where the pin is. Go quickly and give him some oats, or a small piece of apple, almost turning his head around. Go back and keep tapping and rewarding.

After a while, in his eagerness for the reward, he will take a step or two to the right as the bottling begins. So caress him and treat him very kindly for that act. Soon the idea will be conveyed that when you tap the shoulder, the horse knows to turn in that direction.

Remember to train both sides of the horse.

Once both sides are trained, an open bridle can be put on. Use short lines that only come back as far as his tail – but they are only used if he becomes unruly or to convey your idea to him.

The driver’s whip should not be over five feet long at this stage and the driver should stand directly behind the horse. (Beware of kickers) Let the whip extend to about the middle of the withers.

The signal you want him to stop for is to raise the whip and hold it in a perpendicular position. Associate the meaning of this movement, and position, just as the whip is raised so the horse can see it. Pull hard on the reins and say “Wow” – all at the same time. After a few repetitions, the horse knows what to do. (Assuming you have thoroughly trained your horse to whoa)

The first few times he stops without pulling on the reins, step forward and reward him immediately. Much of the success in learning this trick depends on how you provide the rewards. If the reward is given in such a way that the horse can fully understand that it followed the handler’s wish, it will greatly improve the fixation of this impression on the horse’s brain.

But if it is not given properly, the reward will be worse than none at all.

In the same way, the horse is taught to turn left and right. This is done by giving the horse a rather smart tap on the lower part of the shoulder and immediately placing the point of the whip three or four feet in that direction. Should he try to jump and lead too much, you can keep him in check with the action and signal to stop him.

Essentially, these are Beery’s instructions for training a horse to ride without lines. It is important to note that this is an abbreviated version of Beery’s instructions and there is more to know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.