You Asked For It, You Got It: The Liberty Neck Ring

It pays to read the search queries in your blog stats. That way you learn what information people are looking for.

I get a lot of folks searching for information on the Tellington Training Liberty Neck Ring.


From the TTouch Website:

This stiff neck ring, made of lariat rope and adjustable in size, is flexible and easy to use. The lariat is used in bridleless riding taught by TTEAM instructors and TTEAM Practitioners.

That’s a mighty short description of this little wonder tool. It also makes it seem as if the Liberty Neck ring is exclusively for advanced riders. I have used it, and I am no advanced rider.

• When a horse and rider play with the Liberty Neck Ring, they establish a sense of freedom that is radically different from the usual constraints of ringwork and controlled hacks. Every horse needs a break, a change. So do riders, even when they don’t realize it. Sometimes people forget to play with their horses.

• You don’t have to be an advanced rider to use the Liberty Neck Ring. A complete novice can use it, provided (s)he’s on a closed track or in a round pen, just in case there is a sudden loss of communication. In fact, it is a great tool for developing communication and coordination between horse and rider without the danger of the novice’s hands harming the horse’s mouth.

• Use of the Liberty Neck Ring gives the horse greater freedom to detect the rider’s decisive, more clear cues. This is very useful for novice riders.

• Likewise, Green or dull horses can be taught to pay careful attention to rider cues using the Liberty Neck Rope because they are not concerned with cues to the mouth and head.

I’m sure that more experienced riders could think of a dozen more examples of what you can do and learn from using a lariat-like tool with a horse. Please let me know in comments!

On the Liberty Neck Ring from Linda Tellington-Jones:

As a child I used to take great pleasure in mounting my horse bareback, far out in the pasture, and galloping home with a wild feeling of abandon, surrounded by a herd of horses. My running rampant made me feel like an Indian on the plains surrounded by buffalo. As a teenager, I had a wonderful mare, Angel, who would jump a three and a half foot course with nothing but a string around her neck.

In 1969 at our Pacific Coast Equestrian Research Farm and School of Horsemanship, we took two stallions and two geldings to Kansas City, Devon and Syracuse and gave demonstrations of jumping without bridles.

In 1975 I first introduced the idea of bridleless riding to Europe at Equitana. With two other riders, I demonstrated jumping a complex course, bareback, without anything on the horses’ heads. This display of riding inspired people with a sense of wonder at the ability to ride a horse with seemingly so little control. It was a lovely example of harmony between horse and rider. As a result of the Equitana demonstration, Ursula Bruns developed a method of teaching beginning adults to ride on an oval track, around the outside of a riding arena, with the neckring around their horses’ necks. Ursula found it developed a rider’s confidence in his seat and trust in the horse without resorting to holding his balance with the reins.

In 1988 we began using the neckring to improve the horse’s balance, to encourage impulsion, freedom of movement and make a major shift in a horse’s willingness to cooperate. In California, the Foxfield Riding Club had been demonstrating bridleless riding for years with a drill of a dozen or so horses, and the method of bridleless riding became popular in some parts of the country after an article appeared in several horse magazines.

Robyn says she remembers the “flash of inspiration” which prompted us to begin using the bridleless concept for improvement of performance. It was during an Advanced Training at the Equine Inn in New Hampshire. An Arab gelding, who was being ridden at second level dressage, had a serious problem with lack of impulsion and willingness to go forward. He had a slightly ewed neck and a dropped back. On the spur of the moment, while riding this horse and experiencing his unwillingness to go forward, I took a lead rope, put it around his neck, and reached forward from the saddle and removed his bridle.

After ten minutes, this gelding was moving forward with his back up, his neck soft and rounded, his focus forward. He was ridden that way by several people that week and had a dramatic change in attitude and balance. We did a whole advanced TTEAM and riding clinic with an entire group of so-called problem horses. We rode in pairs and fours and even sixes, working with the neck ring. The joy to the horses and riders is hard to describe.

In the fall of 1989, Claus Erhorn, who rode Justyn Thyme for the Olympic gold medal team in three-day eventing, asked me to spend a couple of days with him working with Justyn. Claus had a feeling that TTEAM might be able to improve performance and reduce stress in the competitive horse. He was interested to see the potential for his own horse. For me, it was fun and inspiring to work with such a great team of horse and rider. Justyn, thirteen at the time, was fantastic in the cross-country phase, but had never scored well in the dressage phase. He was a little tight in the back and lacked ideal freedom of movement in his shoulders. This is typical for the majority of three-day event horses. My first observation about Justyn as I worked on him was how strong and sound he was in the back and legs. When I saw him under saddle, I suggested getting him to
lengthen his neck and extend his head at the walk and trot. However, Claus remarked that lengthening the neck was something that he had not been able to achieve with Justyn.

I rode him about five minutes at the walk/trot/canter with his normal snaffle bridle and then put a rope around his neck and took off the bridle. Within another five minutes, he was trotting with his nose almost as low as his knees, freeing up his shoulders and using himself in a very different way. After fifteen minutes at the walk, trot and canter, I replaced the rope around his neck with the Training rollerbit and was able to get much freer movement and a lengthened from with the bit in his mouth.

Since that time Claus would work Justyn out in the woods with just the rope around his neck. Using the neckring or the rollerbit and adding a PBM saddle pad, Claus found vast improvements in Justyn. A few months later in Burley, England, he won the dressage phase for the first time. Claus attributed his success to the use of the TTEAM work.

Shortly after working with Justyn Thyme, I gave a one-day seminar in England to a group of endurance riders. While working with a very jiggy, rather nervous endurance horse, I took off the bridle and rode him with the lead rope around his neck. Within minutes, he had a flat-footed walk and a much steadier trot. He was much quieter and less nervous.

Read more about the use of the Liberty Neck Ring here.

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31 Responses to “You Asked For It, You Got It: The Liberty Neck Ring”

  1. I have ridden my mare Lily with a similar neck ring that I picked up at a tack sale. i wonder if it is a TT neck ring? I do know that it has been great fun to explore tackless riding with her. Come next year, we will be doing more of that….

  2. I use a leather version with soft pads where your fingers go, to allow a really light feel – a la Alexander Nevzorov

    I call it the “cordero” and use it for both teaching ground work and “full body riding.”

    One of the “mantras” I use over and over again in my clinics (where I work with other people’s horses) is that I preach to equestrians and trainers


    I have encountered a seemingly endless number of horses that need remediation, because people train them by forcing their heads to be placed in a certain way, rather than taking the time, patience and SKILLFUL MEANS to train the horse’s body. The head naturally changes positions as the body is developed. The head is the INDICATOR of what / how training should proceed— what the horse needs, what the horse can tell you about himself through training.

    Typical situation are horses that are two “hot” up front. It may seem counter-intuitive, but these horses need to be worked with LESS technology up front, not more. The “heat” is defensive reaction to the “hurt” you are placing on them. I once worked a morgan whose owner/ trainers kept putting more and more technology on her — she was s strong and light in the front end, she almost went “balistic” (meaning, like take off into outer space) when she was mounted. I used the cordero first on the ground to soften her body, so she could REACH into the circles. Her back kept cracking like an old tree in the wind. She was so frightened/ defensive aginst the bit, that I couldn’t even ride her with a bitless side-pull. The action of the reins swinging back and forth made her tense up. So I rode her with the cordero (neck rein) and for the first time she REACHED out at the trot– in fact, her trot was lovely.

    Please PLEASE, riders and trainers out there. Understand you have no right to the horse’s head!

    Bonnitta Roy
    The Horses at Alderlore

  3. We often use cordeos – which we make from soft old reins or whatever we have in the tack room that fits each horse/rider combination.

    All three of our geldings have enjoyed it, and it seems clear to me that freeing up the head/mouth opens something up in each of them.

    The first time my daughter rode her pony with the cordeo, he gravitated to a small jump that was set up in the arena and began to trot over it again and again. We had stopped jumping him due to what seemed like sourness to the jumps but later turned out to be pain.

    It was fascinating to watch him circle over the jump again and again, almost like a child acting out a trauma in play therapy.

    I loved reading how Linda used it with competitive riders and their partners to address issues they were having. One would thing something like this would be a prescriptive, diagnostic tool for all trainers, but there are not that many doing it, as far as I know.

  4. “One would thing something like this would be a prescriptive, diagnostic tool for all trainers, but there are not that many doing it, as far as I know.”

    People come over and I show them the work/ training I am doing with my 3 year old morgan, Dawn. I am training her with just a cordero. I put the cordero on her in the paddock, and bring her over to the mounting block. Frequently, she doesn’t stand for me to get on, and pulls me off the block, and runs back to eating her hay, for instance. So I go back over, pick up the cordero, and ask her to come to the mounting block. THis usually takes 2 or 3 times before she accepts me as a rider. But then the QUALITY of the experience is really something wonderful.

    What the cordero does in this case, is force the trainer/ rider to develop a relationship with the horse, to wait for the horse to be prepared to say “yes” to what you are offering. With conventional tack, the horse is saying “no” all the time — we just are able to shut out/ shut off the horse’s voice. The horse goes “willingly”, se say. Yeah, right….


  5. I’m so glad you came back and wrote the second comment, Bonnitta – that’s such a keen insight about the horse saying no under conventional tack and how easy it is to not hear the no.

    I sometimes give Keil Bay the choice about bridle/bit. (and am well aware many horsepeople would think this is beyond crazy) He takes the bit easily most of the time. If he doesn’t want it, I ride with halter and clip on reins, or the cordeo strap.

    One huge difference is in lateral work – much more responsive under saddle with no bridle! Which probably means I’m doing something conflicting with my hands when I’m asking with my legs.

    I have tried a bitless bridle but he didn’t like it at all.

    I think alternating works well b/c anything I’m shutting out when using the bridle/bit becomes clear with nothing.

    I hope you’ll put some video on your site of your work with Dawn. I would LOVE to see it.

  6. Hi billie. i also vary my use of codero, bitless bridle and bit. I actually prefer a bit in the mouth of a horse that understands it is a communication tool. The bit in the hands of a skillful rider, and in the mouth of a skillfully trained horse, can communicate rather subtle distinctions — hard to do with a bitless bridle.

    Other than Alexander Nevzorov, I don’t know of anyone who trains horses exclusively with a cordero! Talk about skillful means! There is something about his energy level that completely engages the horse. And only then.. there is the technique.

    I will post some video of me and Dawn. But it will hardly impress! For me, its all about experimenting and playing in relationship with my horses.



  7. Oh, I’ll head right over there and see if it’s up yet!

    It’s funny – our experimentation with the cordeo came on the day after we watched every Nevzorov video we could find online. For a month or so I became obsessed with his work, for the very reason you described – that energy he has with the horse. I said at that time that (imo) his work is probably not something that is “teachable” – it seems to originate from a deep place inside him.

    Not that other trainers can’t have their own wonderful energy, but what he does is very unique.

    Anyway, imagine my surprise when Keil Bay said a resounding “no thanks” to the bitless bridle. And although he seems to enjoy some rides w/o the bit, like you said so perfectly – he understands the bit as a tool that means certain things, and he seems to do well with it.

    The pony becomes much more submissive when the bit goes in, and some of what is apparent when he’s ridden without one is that his spunky spirit is allowed to “shine” and he has a certain sense of pride in his movement that is wonderful to see.

    It’s much harder to get that from him in the bridle.

    Cody the QH is the youngest horse here and interestingly, he shows much less difference with a bit or nothing.

  8. OH! I haven’t even shot some video of Dawn and riding with the cordero. I will post a comment here when I post the video – hopefully this weekend.

    I also agree about “individuating” our horses. There is no one formula for all, whcih means we need to be open and inquiring all the time with our horses (just as with people) –


  9. Will check in over the weekend to see the video – thanks!

  10. I’ve seen the neck rings being used, and like it. It’s amazing. It completely proves the theory (to me anyway) that riding is done with your body, not your hands. I like the thread here about the horse’s head not belonging to the rider.

    As a kid I’d experiment bareback, no tack, and use hand pressure on mare’s neck to “steer”. I was thrilled with the results I got, before I had to get up off the ground.

    Can I insert here that it would have been a good idea to study a method *before* trying it out? ;-)

  11. “I was thrilled with the results I got, before I had to get up off the ground. ”



  12. Hi Kim

    Linda has a video of her work with the Neck Ring at her YouTube channel

    Also, in terms of a Cordeo – the Liberty Ring is not a Cordeo. The Balance Rein which she uses would be a closer approximation and there is also a video of it’s use here

    Personally, I use the Balance Rein/Cordeo far more then the Liberty Ring which I find rather awkward however, that is just me.

  13. Thank you for posting these videos. I have a great respect for Linda Tellington Jones and her methods. Sound horsemanship, and out of the box thinking. I’ve seen her methods improperly used – which is why I think some folks get turned off, but when you see her doing her stuff, it’s wonderful.


  15. I’m finding lots of good stuff on your page.

    I’ve been using a neck ring for several years. When my sister and I still had a riding school, we had all our students regularly work with them.
    I still ride my upper level dressage horse occasionally with one too – it’s wonderful for trust and it really helps you with your aids.

    Great post, and a very informative page. Thanks.

  16. WOW! I am so unbelievably happy to have found your blog…

    When I was younger, I took lessons at Foxfield, where they would train some of the advanced riders to ‘ride wire,’ which is what their Drill Team does, as you mentioned. I’ve always been enamored with the freedom and connection of riding bareback, and going bridleless was absolutely the next level. I miss it enormously, have been trying to get back to it ever since!

    I am within a few weeks of purchasing a going-on-3yrs Friesian Stallion, and in my fantasy world, I would begin to break him for riding with one of these rings. I wonder if it’s possible to start a horse without ever placing a bit in its mouth? Even if we start with a bit/bridle/saddle, my goal is to have a wonderful bond with this horse and ride at Liberty most of the time. At Foxfield, we would use light-weight wire hoops…maybe aluminum? The ends of the wire were bent up at the bottom of the loop…kinda pokey, but not sharp at all. It was just enough to supplement weight/voice aids if you needed to regain control. I’ve since misplaced the wire hoop from Foxfield, but have been doing research, wondering if one of these stiff ropes would be better?

    In any event, THANK YOU for this!

    ~ E

  17. Does this work on horses with dips in front of the withers, bulges at the 3rd vertebrae, unside down necks and fears. Or does the horse have to be at a different stage than most I see around here. And what of the rider/handler fitness and general body skill level.

  18. Hi can anyone tell me where I can purchase a cordeo from???
    Many thanks

  19. Well I just meant to post a url link but I guess WordPress has this new thing that shows the video when you do that.

    I do know a local instructor/trainer who is very negative about TTeam and it is because of a situation she encountered at a clinic many years ago; however, I think she is missing the bigger picture about it by focusing on one thing that happened (which IMO wasn’t that big of a deal). People get very firm in their beliefs however.

  20. Jane

    *gasps in horror*

    Can you elaborate on how the methods have been improperly used? It’s my job to make sure people are turned ON, not off.

  21. Simrat

    I am completely ignorant of the relative benefits of various types of neck rings and ropes, as I’ve only ever used plain old rope or the Tellington TTouch ones.

    I would imagine it’s how you use it that counts, and your intention to have fun. And isn’t it fun! My first trainer made all her beginning students ride around in the closed indoor arena with only a neck ring once a week. We learned a lot.

    I look forward to hearing about your bridleless adventures.

  22. Bonnitta

    This is a really good teaching. I sincerely hope that anyone who reads my post will take the time to read your comment/teaching.

  23. billie

    the use of the neck ring as a diagnostic tool is fascinating to watch–I learn so much. what’s neat is that the mindful rider will diagnose his or her own problems because they become evident. The inability to rely on too much tack on the head (see Bonnitta’s comments above) forces the issue.

  24. Horesideology

    Yup. I’m the one who puts those videos up there on YouTube!

    And, FYI, I think the balance rein is easier to use, too. More fluid. Somehow I always look like a drunk with a hula hop when i use the Ring.

  25. Hello Tina,

    If you would like to buy a Neck Ring, visit and click on the STORE link. From there, you will find a menu for horses, where the Neck Ring is offered.

    Are you familiar with Darja Slovenija at Kaja in Grom Ranch? She is a TTouch Practitioner and has a wonderful Ranch for teaching and other projects. If you have questions about TTouch or any of the tools, I know Darja would answer them.

  26. LIsa
    That’s quite a load of compliments coming from you! Thank you very much.
    Glad to know that accomplished riders find the joy and benefit of such a tool, and pass it on to their students.

  27. Erinlayne
    I am equally happy that you came here.
    You could definitely use one before you start in a bit–they are wonderful for exactly that sort of use. Just start in a round pen first or somewhere enclosed so you have no possibility of things getting out of hand so your horse cannot make a mistake. Make sure also that you have your groundwork solid before you start anything under saddle. Keep in mind that both of you should be “playing” with moving and changing direction, going forward and stopping, with cues from the neck ring.
    If you begin a horse with an aid like this, he will be much more responsive and softer in a bit–which you want!
    I don’t know about any ends on the wire–maybe you might have needed that for horses not broke to a ring who might not listen–but if you’re starting a horse with one and he’s gentle and listens, which he cannot help but do if you approach it gently and playfully, you won’t need anything more than the stiff neck ring.
    Please write and let me know how things go. I am very interested to know how it turns out with you and your new horse. And if you use a neck ring.
    Good luck, and come back soon.

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