Bitless Riding
 
 

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Bitless Riding

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  • Bitless riding
  • Damage done by using bitless bridles incorectly

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  • 1 Post By amberly
  • 1 Post By PunksTank
  • 3 Post By Incitatus32
  • 1 Post By BlueSpark
  • 1 Post By PunksTank
  • 1 Post By AnrewPL
  • 1 Post By Incitatus32
  • 2 Post By PunksTank

 
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    11-25-2013, 05:50 PM
  #1
Foal
Bitless Riding

So what is everyone's opinion on bitless riding? Pros, Cons, Good experiences, Bad Experiences?? Just Curious.
     
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    11-25-2013, 06:16 PM
  #2
Started
I like it.
My horse used to be very good at bitless riding, but he didn't get ridden in a lot of years, then I came along and put him on the bit - but we are slowly working out way back out again and he does great!! I do recommend it because it doesn't hard the horse (anything can harm the horse if used incorrectly or abused) and It's nice.

Pros: what I said above and if your horse has bit troubles or if you are in winter and can't/dont want to warm the bit up you can slip on the hackamroe and go. Horsemans hackamroe is a very great one. That is the one I use and it is nice because it has reins and a leadrope.

Cons: if you have very strong hands or yank on the reins or abuse the proper way of using, your horse can become hard-nosed like a horse cna become hard-mouthed.
One of our horses is hard mouthed and hard nosed, but after quite a bit of warming up he does okay.

I haven't had anything bad happen and I honestly don't think anything will.
One thing, is I think there shouldn't be any hardware on it. Just because it can change the was pressure is applied and if he shaked his head or something that mkaes the hardware wiggle it cna come up and hit him on the nose or another painful area.

But I think they are great and I do encourage them.
CowgirlUp7243 likes this.
     
    11-25-2013, 06:33 PM
  #3
Started
I think there are a million threads along these lines.
But IMO a both bits and bitless options can come anywhere on a scale from a gentle form of communication to serious animal abuse.
There are varieties of bitless bridles that could easily break a horse's nose or damage the soft tissue on their face, while at the same time there are bits that have sawed tongues off and broken jaws.
A lot comes down to the brutality of the hands of the rider.

One key to remember, the more room the pressure is distributed on the less severe the tool (bit or bitless) a narrow or twisted or spiked noseband or bit will be far more severe than a smooth wider one. Another thing to keep in mind is leverage, as soon as you add leverage it should be reserved for neck reining only (not direct reining).

I have 2 bridles for each of my horses a bitted option and a bitless option, but I also ride bridless on my mare I've done more training with. I opted for a smooth mullen mouth egg-butt snaffle for my mare, it's the sort of bit that without pressure sits idle in their mouth. But because the sides don't move independently, it's better for this mare who doesn't often use bits the cues are more obvious and there's less movement inside her mouth to distract her.
While my Belgian came to me driven in a single jointed liverpool with the reins on the third loop down (serious leverage!). I moved him down to a ported kimberwick, he was good but heavy on the bit and rode like he was still in the shafts of the carriage. I removed the curb chain on the kimberwick (so essentially a ported snaffle) and he did better but not ideal. I got him a double jointed egg butt snaffle with an oval link in the middle. He's smooth as butter and has solid brakes on this bit.

Both of those horses also have a nutural bitless bridle. My mare always prefers this or me riding in just a flat halter. The bit overwhelms her, it's too "loud" and she's over reactive even to the gentlest cues. The nurtural is new and she's getting the hang of it - it has a much more solid release than most bitless options for direct reining and has made things very clear for her. I also ride her bridless. She does well with this on occasion, but prefers I ride in a halter or Nurtural because it takes a lot of her "guess work" out of the equation, I think if I rode bridless with her too often right now she'd get frustrated constantly guessing what I want. With more training she'll get better bridless.
My Belgian also has a Nutural, he's wonderful in this and still has solid brakes and easy turning - but I haven't ventured off property with this bridle yet as he's still very new to it. He also has a large callused nose from wearing an ingrown halter for 10 years so his nose is less sensitive than an average horse - which is why the Nutural works well for him because it interacts with his whole head. It also has completely different cues than the bit, which enabled me to train him to be soft in this, rather than having to wean him down in stages of bits.

Bottom line - neither is a better option. Find the option that is as mild as possible and works for you and your horse.


If you're thinking about going bitless decide which style of riding you're doing, what's allowed if you compete, and take into consideration the mechanics of the tool. Bitless does NOT mean painless.
Incitatus32 likes this.
     
    11-25-2013, 06:37 PM
  #4
Yearling
Pros: For a horse that's intolerant of the bit it gives you a bridle, a horse with wolf teeth that haven't been removed/medical issues can also benefit from it, and it can increase responsiveness and attention to you.

Cons: When used on a horse that cannot cope with one it can end in disaster, the horse ignores you and develops bad habits, and some horses do not like them and through horrible fits.

I trained a horse one time who had several mouth issues. After trying to get him into a snaffle it just wasn't working so I bought a cheap bitless bridle. He went fine in it and after his issues were resolved resumed working in a bit. Never had a problem, nor a fuss out of him then or now. My mare I can throw a halter on anytime and get the same response as a bit.

On the other hand, I saw a woman riding her horse bitless and my gosh he was an opportunist. She swore never to use a bit and his bad behavior escalated and escalated until one day he flipped over backwards on top of her. As another example, if I ever rode my gelding without bit contact then he would go insane. I've also seen horses who were spooky bolt and the rider have no control over them due to not having enough leverage.

Bitless bridles have their place, and what can it hurt to try something new? I've always had an opinion that if a horse liked it then I put it on, but don't ever be "afraid" to go back to wearing a bridle and know when it's not working out. I think that every horse should be trained to wear a bit and THEN migrated to a bitless bridle simply because there is a clearer communication with a bit imo. Still, what can it hurt to try and if it works out it works out. I bought a cheap $15 bitless bridle and that worked for me (I also use halters) just so that I wouldn't have to waste money on something I was only going to use off and on.

Just be safe and smart and know if it's working or not. :)
bsms, PunksTank and KigerQueen like this.
     
    11-25-2013, 06:56 PM
  #5
Green Broke
A bitless bridle is just another form of control on a horses head. Its no better or worse than a bit. As was mentioned, bitless go from very gentle(leather side pull) to very, very harsh(think bitless equivalent of a bike chain shanked bit).

I ride my main saddle horse in a flat leather sidepull all winter(no bit warming, yay!) and a single jointed snaffle all summer, when we are going at faster speeds she is a little hard to hold(think galloping down the trail, she occasionally kicks into race horse mode). I start all my young horses in a side pull and a snaffle.

Some horses love a bit, and some hate them. Some work great off nose pressure, others, for various reasons, don't. Each needs to be approached as an individual.

I have to admit, I have seen as many horses detest a natural/dr cooks bitless bridle as detest a tom thumb. I watched a clinic once where the only misbehaving horse was in a treeless saddle and a bitless bridle, running through its riders hands, head up, back hollow. The horses in a treed saddle and curb were working quietly.
PunksTank likes this.
     
    11-25-2013, 07:01 PM
  #6
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Incitatus32    
I think that every horse should be trained to wear a bit and THEN migrated to a bitless bridle simply because there is a clearer communication with a bit imo.
I completely agree with everything you say. Except the above. I even agree horses should be taught to understand bits, simply because in another home a bit might not be an option for the rider and the horse should be educated accordingly to ensure he has a solid future. I don't believe bits are more clear communicators though.
In training my mare I use her flat halter first, her bit second, the nurtural 3rd. I set up the situation the same in all 3 situations. I put the halter/bridle on, with the reins run through the rings of the surcingle and I stood off the to side - so she was only listening to the bridle, nothing my seat or body language could convey. In the flat halter it took 5 minutes for her to understand turn her head in the direction of the pull. In 10 minutes she was turning her head the moment the slack was taken out of the rein, before it actually hit the nose piece of her halter.
In the bitted bridle (I tried a double jointed snaffle and a mullen mouth). The double jointed snaffle was confusing for her, she spent more time playing with it and fussing with where to hold it in her mouth than even thinking about what the pressure meant. Even though I had given her ample amount of time to just wear the bitted bridle without anything messing with it. By the end of the half hour she was only giving to the pressure at strong amounts or gentle nagging (squeeze/release again and again). With the mullen mouth she didn't fuss, she gave to the pressure immediately but she never went on to listening for the "pre-cue" of the rein lifting up, she always waited until pressure was on to listen. But when she did turn she was over exaggerated, in a sort of panicked turn.
In the nurtural it was just like the halter, she immediately figured out to turn her head in the correct direction and would respond before the rein ever made full contact.

My deduction from this experiment is that the double jointed bit was too "noisy" and distracting, the mullen mouth was also too "loud" for her but she understood it better. The flat halter and nutural were much more clear without being overwhelming.
But this is a horse who had nothing in her past of bits or bridles and had good teeth and a sensitive nose.


I still use my double jointed bit on my Belgian who loves the complexity of it's cues, allowing me to cue him more subtly, unlike the kimberwick which he was over-dramatic with. In a flat halter he's just a butt and will break for grass, it ends up in a fight and not fun for either of us. The Nurtural bitless gave me the same feel as the double jointed bit - I had subtle cues and good control. Because the nutural interacts with their whole face, not just their nose I can escalate my cues to mean many different things - giving me the ability to fine tune his cues.
But his roughed up nose and playful attitude I still play it safe with a bit on trails and bitless at home.
Incitatus32 likes this.
     
    11-25-2013, 07:32 PM
  #7
Yearling
Depends what you want to do if for I guess. I hackamore train horses, that is with a series of hackamores with different sized rawhide bosals and matching horsehair mecates. The purpose behind it is to train a horse to an extremely high level of development before training them into a bridle, that is with a bit, so the whole thing is a long-term process that combines bitless and bitted riding within one training system.
But, that’s not to say that you have to go the whole hog and do that. I can’t comment on any bitless options other than a hackamore, since I have never bothered learning to use them, but I can say that if you learn how to ride in a hackamore it can be extremely rewarding. It’s not something that can just be switched in and out of any existing way of riding, in my opinion, it’s something you either do or don’t do, you can’t just use a hackamore the way you might a snaffle bit in dressage say, you will likely end up with a hard headed horse and be hauling on the reins to get anything done (and people trying to do that kind of thing is where I think a lot of people come to the conclusion that rawhide bosal is harsh).
Done properly you can have a horse respond to nothing more than the balance of the bosal, a movement of you wrist and adjustments in your seat. Done wrong, you can saw away on a horse’s muzzle and rip up their face. And, be warned, if you do it wrong and teach a horse that it can run through the bosal and ignore it, than you can have an out of control horse.
Yet, if you are willing to learn how to do it right, develop the kind of hands and subtlety in reading a horse required, then it can be one of the nicest things you can do with a horse. And you don’t need to go all the way to a full bridle, you can just rid them indefinitely in a hackamore so long as you have soft hands.
Northern likes this.
     
    11-25-2013, 07:42 PM
  #8
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by PunksTank    
I completely agree with everything you say. Except the above. I even agree horses should be taught to understand bits, simply because in another home a bit might not be an option for the rider and the horse should be educated accordingly to ensure he has a solid future. I don't believe bits are more clear communicators though.
In training my mare I use her flat halter first, her bit second, the nurtural 3rd. I set up the situation the same in all 3 situations. I put the halter/bridle on, with the reins run through the rings of the surcingle and I stood off the to side - so she was only listening to the bridle, nothing my seat or body language could convey. In the flat halter it took 5 minutes for her to understand turn her head in the direction of the pull. In 10 minutes she was turning her head the moment the slack was taken out of the rein, before it actually hit the nose piece of her halter.
In the bitted bridle (I tried a double jointed snaffle and a mullen mouth). The double jointed snaffle was confusing for her, she spent more time playing with it and fussing with where to hold it in her mouth than even thinking about what the pressure meant. Even though I had given her ample amount of time to just wear the bitted bridle without anything messing with it. By the end of the half hour she was only giving to the pressure at strong amounts or gentle nagging (squeeze/release again and again). With the mullen mouth she didn't fuss, she gave to the pressure immediately but she never went on to listening for the "pre-cue" of the rein lifting up, she always waited until pressure was on to listen. But when she did turn she was over exaggerated, in a sort of panicked turn.
In the nurtural it was just like the halter, she immediately figured out to turn her head in the correct direction and would respond before the rein ever made full contact.

My deduction from this experiment is that the double jointed bit was too "noisy" and distracting, the mullen mouth was also too "loud" for her but she understood it better. The flat halter and nutural were much more clear without being overwhelming.
But this is a horse who had nothing in her past of bits or bridles and had good teeth and a sensitive nose.


I still use my double jointed bit on my Belgian who loves the complexity of it's cues, allowing me to cue him more subtly, unlike the kimberwick which he was over-dramatic with. In a flat halter he's just a butt and will break for grass, it ends up in a fight and not fun for either of us. The Nurtural bitless gave me the same feel as the double jointed bit - I had subtle cues and good control. Because the nutural interacts with their whole face, not just their nose I can escalate my cues to mean many different things - giving me the ability to fine tune his cues.
But his roughed up nose and playful attitude I still play it safe with a bit on trails and bitless at home.
I can see that and can I just say what a wonderful explanation? :) I don't want to sound like I won't start a horse bitless it's just personal preference for me to start using a bit. If they need to be started bitless I have no problem doing so and moving from there. :) Is she the one in your profile pic? Regardless that horse is stunning
CowgirlUp7243 likes this.
     
    11-25-2013, 08:50 PM
  #9
Weanling
My opinion every horse is different. I had a mare for years that I never rode in a bit. She just did better without. The mare I have now I would not ever ride bitless. I am a believer in what ever works for you and your horse
     
    11-25-2013, 09:05 PM
  #10
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by Incitatus32    
I can see that and can I just say what a wonderful explanation? :) I don't want to sound like I won't start a horse bitless it's just personal preference for me to start using a bit. If they need to be started bitless I have no problem doing so and moving from there. :) Is she the one in your profile pic? Regardless that horse is stunning
Thank you! I definitely see where you're coming from. With everything I do with my horses my end goal is always for my horse to be "universal". While I primarily ride with a bitless option, I always make sure (barring any medical reason) the horse knows and understands the bit. I train my horses using positive reinforcement (classical conditioning/clicker training - geez it has lots of names!) but my end results with my horses are for them to speak the same language all horses do, regardless of how we got there. While all my horses live with me for life, should I die or be unable to care for them I feel it's my duty to ensure they're a valuable member of the equine community, if for no other reason than just to ensure their safety/survival out in the world.
Incitatus32 and CowgirlUp7243 like this.
     

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