Natural Horse World

Using a Neck Rope or Cordeo

Are you aspiring to ride bridle-less, or progress to liberty, or just need some extra support when riding? A neck rope or cordeo is the ideal tool to help you develop finesse and refined control.

Neck Ropes and cordeos are very similar pieces of equipment with variations in material and the way they’re used. Traditionally, a neck rope is used in more relaxed, western types of riding with a single hand.
A cordeo is often a simple (or quite fancy) neck strap that is used with two hands in more English-oriented disciplines or as a support for jumping and beginner riders.

Cynthia and Manny and jumping bridle-less with a neck rope for safety. Photo Credit: Nadeen Davis.

Both are ideal tools to help you and your horse learn refined communication together.

It helps you to use mind, body, and legs before your hands, and your horse learns to follow those earlier cues.
This leads to harmony, lightness, and an enviable relationship with your horse.

Principles to learn

The neck rope will teach you the principle of “less is more” and you will discover how to communicate without using constant or controlling pressure.
It’s important to keep the neck rope in a low position on the neck so you’re not harming the horse’s windpipe, especially if using it for support.

That said, you can slide the rope up the neck a little to indicate direction during the initial training. Keep the pressure light and rhythmic rather than a constant feel. Return to a neutral low position when the horse responds.

This post on common mistakes when riding bridleless shows exactly where the neck rope should sit and some pitfalls to avoid.

Neck Rope riding can teach both horse and rider to relax. Photo Credit: Cynthia Cooper.

Another benefit of using a neck rope is you can almost never force the horse into doing what you want.
It gives the horse freedom and choice, teaching us to listen to the horse first.

More uses

Neck ropes are also used for refining groundwork, transitioning to liberty, or during a photoshoot where you want minimal headgear.

Leading with a neck rope.
Photo credit: Karine Vanenborre

They can help beginner riders, support you in an uphill climb (especially if your horse has no mane), and stabilize your hands during jumping rather than grabbing on the head if you lose your balance.

They are also the best tool for transitioning to bridle-less riding.  A neck rope serves both as the initial cue prior to the horse listening exclusively to your seat and legs, and as a backup cue if needed.

Ideally, you will have taught your horse to yield his hind end to disengage the hindquarters as a means of control.

Remember, safety always comes first and it’s highly recommended to only use a neck rope in a controlled environment (smaller fenced area, arena, or yard) especially in the early stages.
Use a neck rope in conjunction with other headgear (and a helmet on your head!) as a backup.

Riding with a neck rope can be a real test for an independent seat! Photo Credit: Elsie May

Read about one rider’s experience of using a neck rope for the first time here

Click on the photo below to buy a LightRider Neck Rope.

The LightRider Neck Rope is simple and affordable.

2 thoughts on “Using a Neck Rope or Cordeo”

    1. Cynthia

      Wonderful Jane – I hope you found them in our store. 🙂

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