Bitless riding?

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Carl
16 Dec 2008 16:38
I've seen a lot of bits (I hope that's the right word for the thing you put in a horse's mouth !! I'm dutch (Belgium) so ..) and have also recently seen some footage of people that ride bitLESS! Those people don't complain about the lack of control that some would argue. My question to you; is it well known in the professional "equestrian" world? And would it be a big difference if horses would be riden without a 'bit'?

I know there are a lot of thougts about this subject and some aren't pleased with a 'new' way to ride your horse but try to clear your mind and give your thougts about "bitless riding"! My thougt is; if most people say that they don't want to "damage" their horses mouth, and the purpose of a bit is to give 'direction' and some breaks,why do we have to put it in their mouth? Also, there is no reason to say that a horse would stop or calm down more effectively wíth a 'bit' than without it, because if you pull to hard on the reins you will hurt him and if the horse is hurt, he will run away anyway!
Fiona Price, Horse Hero Founder
16 Dec 2008 20:50
Good point! I have had horses which go better in bitless bridles but I think it depends on the horse. Infact, I had one who could do all lateral and collected work in a bitless but was difficult, verging on impossible to ride in a bit. Sadly, you can't currently compete in dressage in a bitless bridle, though I understand in the UK, this might change. However, I have had other horses who prefer a bit. Most bitless bridles use a combination of pressure, eg. on the nose, the jaw, the poll and it will depend how sensitive your horse is to that pressure as to how well they go. You will need to experiment. Some bitless bridles can be as 'harsh' as bits, so it's 'horses for courses'!
Kels
18 Dec 2008 11:20
I have never ridden in a bitless bridle, but I would imagine its harder to get the sensitivity that is ideal for dreassage? Because surely a horse is less responsive to a subtle rein aid that goes to the nose rather than to the mouth? But hey, I was always taught that you can teach a horse to do anything to any kind of instuction, as long as you teach it well!
Sophie.M
08 Apr 2009 13:43

I have ridden a horse in a bitless and this horse used to do some type of advanced dressage but they never competed. However when I and the owner rode him we could not even get him working in a correct outline let alone do any lateral work with him. We even got a professional rider in to try him thinking it was our riding (after having had his tack and back checked) but he still wouldnt go nicely. We had just about given up when a friend suggested we tried a bitless with him, it was like a miricale! He happily went in an outline and before long we were doing some much harder movements than I ever thought I could! The only problem was we couldnt compete with it and we had no chance with a bit in.

Another horse I ride - when we went to try him (he was for sale due to being to strong for her daughter to ride), we rode in a bit and he was very strong and we didn't exactly feel in control. However he did do everything right. We said to the owners that he was not right for us as we did not want a strong horse (who was ridden in a Myler and had a grackle noseband, yet was still very stong) then my mum came up with the idea of trying him bitless so we phoned up the owners and asked if we could try this, they were more than happy but they weren't convinced he would be any better (nor were we for that matter). But we went along with our bitless anyway and he was perfect! So much softer in the hand and a real pleasure to ride but after seeing this the owner had second thoughts and decided to keep him. We have heard they are getting on very well now and their local equestian centre allows them to compete in the bitless! Some horses may go better in bits but if they don't I really would suggest trying bitless - it can make miracles!

Ukica
25 Apr 2009 16:39
Am I correct in thinking that bitless is allowed for showjumping under FEI rules?

Fiona Price, Horse Hero Founder
26 Apr 2009 15:39
It is to my knowledge! I would add I had a very difficult and strong mare who was superb in a bitless and she would do great lateral work in it too! I competed dressage in a double which was better than a snaffle, as a bitless was not allowed. But I understand bitless bridles are currently under consideration for affiliated dressage. So things could change.
ridersrecommend
27 Apr 2009 16:20
This is a really interesting thread for me. I've been considering trying my mare in an English hackamore. She's strong but soft mouthed and is prone to getting a split mouth and sores inside. I ride her in a rubber 4 ring continental snaffle for flatwork, hacking and cross country and a vulcanite pelham for show jumping. She doesn't work in an outline AT ALL!

Do you have to buy a special bridle to go with an English hackamore, or does it attached to a normal bridle? I've not been able to find this information online yet!

Thanks for your help!
ladymare
04 May 2009 10:52

Hi! I'm new to Horse Hero and have just seen your post re bitless bridles. I may be too late as I expect you have already dealt with the problem - but just want to add my recommendation for a Dr Cooks Bitless Bridle. See http://www.bitlessbridle.co.uk/ for all the info you will need. I've been using one for 3 years now on experienced and novice horses - can't recommend it too highly.

quisquam
11 Jul 2009 22:40
"Hi! I'm new to Horse Hero and have just seen your post re bitless bridles. I may be too late as I expect you have already dealt with the problem - but just want to add my recommendation for a Dr Cooks Bitless Bridle. See http://www.bitlessbridle.co.uk/ for all the info you will need. I've been using one for 3 years now on experienced and novice horses - can't recommend it too highly. With a 30 day money back guarantee you can't lose!!"

I have backed my young pony with this bridle and you could not wish for a happier more trusting and trustworthy little chap. Control has never been an issue. If you are keen on days out hacking it has the advantage of doubling up as a head collar. Your horse can graze in it without getting grass all wrapped round a bit! I had come across the Dr. Cook bridle at one of the livery yards I kept my previous horse at when in Switzerland. There it was used on a horse who had had his mouth badly damaged during a life as a riding school hack. A sad reflection of the way many horse riders think is that I have offered to let very experienced rider friends ride my pony, but they refuse simply because he has no bit. They acknowledge that they see me out and about day after day and that my pony is very well behaved in all circumstances, but without the talisman of metal they will not get on board. I am not sure what the position would be with regards to competing in this bridle although I suspect it would probably not be allowed.
Fiona Price, Horse Hero Founder
11 Jul 2009 23:45
I used the Dr Cook bitless bridle on a very difficult event mare (referred to in a post above) who was delightful in it, working at medium dressage at home. I also hacked out in it and did her fitness work in it on the gallops. I understand Andrew Nicholson rode round Badminton (or another 4*) in one! Also, as mentioned above, I have heard that BD is considering allowing it for affiliated dressage? Worth asking them.
quisquam
15 Jul 2009 07:16
"I have also used the Dr Cook bitless bridle on a very difficult event mare who was delightful in it, working at medium dressage at home. I also hacked out in it and did her fitness work in it on the gallops. I understand Andrew Nicholson rode round Badminton (or another 4*) in one! I have heard that BD is considering allowing it for affiliated dressage? Worth asking them."
Who knows we may compete yet! Although maybe not at 4* level, being 14h might put us at a disadvantage!!! Although there is some challenge is being the first bitless barefoot 14h gypsy cob to get placed at Badminton, Watch this space...
Brigid Fairman
29 Nov 2010 19:38
I would like to add my voice to those praising going bitless and in particular, the Dr Cook. I have endurance arabians and all of them go better without metal in their mouths. I would love to do some dressage too and I am just waiting for BD to see the light. Surely bitless affords no advantage and it will be so much nicer to watch than all those poor horses with their mouths clamped shut with tight nosebands.
jo'scobs
29 Nov 2010 20:11
My husband rides his 16:2hh cob cross in a bitless bridle, and I was always concerned that he wouldn't have good brakes in it. How wrong I was ... whilst riding past a field of excited horses last week both our horses took flight on a tarmac surface, he managed to pull up much more quickly than me, I use a loose ring french link, so there we go, had to eat my words, damn it!
peaches
03 Dec 2010 09:18
I had a KWPN mare who I trained to Grand Prix level. She had a real sensitive mouth. I had to have an operation, so sent her away for a weeks training at my trainer's yard. A big mistake, she came back with large gaping splits to both sides of her mouth, I was horrified. I cried when I saw her, she wouldn't let me even pet her around her face, she was in such a lot of pain.

I did not want to put her out of work, I wanted to keep her fitness up, so I put her in an English hackamore, and put a rubber cover on the curb chain. I expected to have all kinds of steering problems as she was rather large and not to be able to do the move advanced movements. To my surprise, she schooled fantastically, she was light, responsive and her lateral work was good. I was so surprised. I felt that the hackamore made me use my seat even more, it was good for me.

This was nearly 20 years ago, and I wondered then if there ever would be a class that you could enter without using a bit.

So it's nice to hear from Fiona, albeit 20 yrs later, that BD are thinking of allowing this. But I wonder how they are going to judge horses that are wearing bits against horses that aren't; or would they divide the class into bitless and bit, be interesting to see what happens.

Fiona Price, Horse Hero Founder
03 Dec 2010 11:32
Why would it matter? Couldn't you look at the overall picture and mark the horse as usual, whether bitted or bitless?
LittleTurkey
06 Dec 2010 15:14
I agree Fiona, BD don't split classes into loose-ring snaffle and double bridle (when you get up high enough to use them) for example. I would have thought it would just be enough to give the same sort of guidelines you get for bitting.

I often ride in my Dually halter, I'm alowed to compete in riding club jumping events in my dually and the Trec events I've been to don't mind either. I wish I could do the same in the dressage.

I would really love to compete in my lariat neck-ring... perhaps that's going too far...
Englishwoman in Bulgaria
28 Jan 2017 18:25
I'm just deliberating whether to try my little Bulgarian mare in a bitless bridle. I started her in a loose ring happy mouth with a copper lozenge, but she chewed it up a bit. So I am now using a full cheek with copper lozenge, which is better, but she is inclined to hang onto it. She is a baby and I really don't want to spoil her young mouth.
I don't want to compete, I just want a relaxed and happy horse to enjoy the beautiful wide open countryside of Bulgaria
Most posts on this subject are quite old.... are there any new comments.
Fiona Price, Horse Hero Founder
02 Feb 2017 20:32
Hi there, I have recently got this:

http://www.pioneerendurance.com/orbitless-noseband.htm#.WJOW1OSml9A

It's a bit different to the norm. It's my backup for endurance if the horse gets a mouth rub during a competition. I have used a number of bitless options in the past. Some are quite brutal if you actually have to use it to stop! This is simple and only puts pressure on the nose and the poll, not all round the head. See what you think.
 

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