Bitless Dressage - Page 2

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Bitless Dressage

This is a discussion on Bitless Dressage within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category

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    06-06-2012, 08:46 AM
Well, my mare is trained to a level where she's doing half pass, half pirouettes, flying changes and playing with steps of piaffe and passage. I can do this in a bridle or a rope halter.

She's a nice big wamrblood and goes correctly and works well n a nice collected frame.

I have never found a way to get a lovely forwards contact In the halter like I can in a bridle...with the halter I put her in a frame and then let the reins go slack, she Carries herself but there is not the connection between my hand and her mouth, I find she's more inclined to over bend her neck in a halter to.

But it is a fun party trick to trot around in a rope halter doing dressage tricks. Actually she's a really hot mare and used to get upset about flying change until I did a couple of schooling sessions doing them in a halter,and then her changes became much more relaxed and stayed that way back in a bridle.
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    06-07-2012, 03:38 AM
The schooling and contact are the same and it is definitely possible to do a good test in a bitless. Unfortunately you can't compete in Dressage without a bit.

I believe that there are clubs around that support the rider who rides bitless and they have their own competitions.
    06-08-2012, 06:55 PM
Not an afficianado of bitless. As I understood it, the Micklem was designed not to cause pressure points on cranial nerves????
Anyway-- If you subscribe to the theory that you are ultimately looking for self carriage and that your horse should be able to carry himself even in Piaffe and Passage while the rider performs a Give and Retake (uberstrichen), and the transitions between, then theoretically it should not be too much of an issue whether or not you train with a bit. I deally, we look to train our horses to step into a positive contact-- but that should not be a heavy contact.
I realise that you don't want to compete, but this issue came up with our NGB before our Winters. I know you cannot ride at FEI level without a bit, however I would wonder if a vet cert - for example if a horse had an injury to it's oral structures that impacted the use of a bit- would be acceptable to most NGBs as fly /muzzle fringes are in a similar instance? I would certainly be in favour.
    06-08-2012, 07:37 PM
I agree with anebel, the bitless bridle is not made for contact, and if your mare is naturally sensitive to it, wouldn't advise on it.. Think "what is cool for my horse"... ;)
    06-08-2012, 09:25 PM
Super Moderator
Jennifer, welcome to the forum. It is always nice to see new dressage riders here.

I would love to see photos and videos of your horse. It would be a great way to encourage more experiments with bitless dressage.
    06-08-2012, 10:12 PM
Contrary to what Anebel and Lokahi believe the bitless should very much be used with a contact. Riding with no contact is a rider out of control.

The Op's horse may have a poll problem - which may benefit from a chiropractic treatment. As the bitless tends to work on different areas to a bitted bridle any damage to the poll will cause discomfort. Also to be considered is the condition of the teeth. If teeth are sharp the side pull type of bitless will tighten around the face causing discomfort in the cheek area.

    06-09-2012, 12:23 AM
Originally Posted by Tnavas    
Contrary to what Anebel and Lokahi believe the bitless should very much be used with a contact. Riding with no contact is a rider out of control.

Yes, a rider should always have contact. My point is that in general, horses do not like/will not take a contact in a bitless because of the pressure points.
In a snaffle bridle where the horse takes a correct contact, there is very little pressure on the bars and tongue. In a bitless, were the horse to take the same correct contact, there is pressure on the bridge of the nose and the poll.
My horse who has the tendency to duck behind even in a bit had huge evasion problems in the bitless because of the negative pressure created by the bridle.

IMO they are not created for training dressage because they do not encourage correct contact or reach over the topline and create stiff backed horses. For a horse to perform upper level movements correctly in them, it is likely they were first schooled in a bit and have already developed the self carriage required to perform high level movements with a soft contact.
    06-09-2012, 01:31 AM
Anebel - all the horses I've seen working in a bitless have all worked in an outline with as much quality as one in a bridle.

Collection with a Bitless Bridle

Advanced work

And finally the same horse incompetition wearing a bitted bridle
    06-09-2012, 01:45 AM
Apparently we have different versions of collection and good dressage tests. Generally speaking, bucking through canter transitions does not constitute a nice test and dumping onto the forehand in every single downward transition does not constitute collection, but that's only my opinion.

Uta Graf is a very, very qualified rider that has ridden many of the world's top horses. As I stated before (see my previous post) "For a horse to perform upper level movements correctly in them, it is likely they were first schooled in a bit and have already developed the self carriage required to perform high level movements with a soft contact." And this is very likely the case with the horse she is riding.

To teach a horse to be soft, over the back and correctly collected is IMO not possible in a bitless bridle for 95% of horses. The pressure points are simply too much for many horses to handle, causing them to suck back behind the rider's aids.

I do not think that just because something lacks a bit it is any kinder to the horse. There are just as many, if not more pressure points touched on the horse with a bitless as a simple snaffle bridle. Why do you think putting a chain around the horse's nose works as a force control method?? Is a thin piece of leather really that much better? Gag bits are considered harsh because of the poll pressure they put on a horse, again is a bitless any kinder??
    06-09-2012, 01:52 AM
The chain around the nose works because it produces only pin points of pressure - the same as a styletto heel shoe will put holes in a vynyl floor - the lbs per sq inch thing.

The collection video isn't the best but the following videos do show that it is possible to do the movements just as well bitless.

As with a bridle the road to the advanced levels takes time, patience and quality schooling.

The ultimate answer is YES a horse can produce good quality dressage in a bitless bridle.

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