Best bitless bridle for Kodak? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 49 Old 03-03-2017, 07:04 AM Thread Starter
Green Broke
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Best bitless bridle for Kodak?

I want to try a bitless bridle on Kodak. Last summer, when I had a trainer come in and work on her desensitizing, she used one, and Kodak was ok with it. However, because we were still working on a lot of things and I was very nervous about her spooking, I was uncomfortable riding her without a bit. I know, a bitless bridle can give just as much control as a bit, but for my own peace of mind, I felt better knowing I had a bit in her mouth.

Since then, we have come a long way. I'm ready to try bitless again. Why, you ask? Well, when I ride her, she sticks her neck out like she's trying to push on the bit. She also gets upset when I pull back, tossing her head (though this has improved a lot recently). Her teeth are fine, she will accept the bit, but since she yields to pressure like a pro, it may not be necessary. She does not bolt or try to run out of control, but she does spook sometimes. Again, this is much improved since we first got her so she will now mostly spook in place.

I looked at some bitless bridles and since I can't get them locally, would like to know which one you would recommend. I know some can be harsh and would like to avoid those, but would still like to have some pressure for control. We will mainly be trail riding.
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post #2 of 49 Old 03-03-2017, 09:08 AM
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Hi AA!

My guys all do well in the Dr Cooks bridles; even George will go in one, tho he prefers his hackamore. They are sort of expensive, but they are nicely made. There are several "look-alikes" out there, but the ones I have examined are not as well made; in any event avoid the ones put together with rivets, as they don't stay together very long. I like the padded leather "English" version, but the Beta ones are just as good, and indistinguishable from leather unless you look real close. The reins they come with are nothing special, and I prefer a one-piece yacht-rope rein in any event; by clipping one end of the rein thru both rings you get a nice lead w/o having to install the bridle over a halter and carry a separate lead rope.
Shop eBay for a good used one; that's where I got mine. Here's one at a decent price (so far):
dr cook bitless bridle | eBay
I will comment that the bitless bridle doesn't give you much "Stop" enforcement, so be sure you have the cues well in place before hitting the trail. I find that alternately tapping the rein on either side (ala "Back-up") will generally remind my head-strong TB horse that he is, indeed, still wearing a bridle.


PS: They all spook; they're prey animals after all. You'll find that as long as you are paying attention to the world around you, you can anticipate and mitigate most spooky situations. Then, too, even if your critter jumps, you have a good chance of riding thru it. If it catches you daydreaming, you're behind the game, and just along for the ride. Or not, as the case may be ;-)
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Last edited by george the mule; 03-03-2017 at 09:17 AM.
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post #3 of 49 Old 03-03-2017, 09:18 AM
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My mare was trained in western pleasure before I owned her and had a bad experience with bosals/anything that applies too much pressure on top of nose. I ended up making my own bitless rope halter bridle that worked super well with her; this isn't the one I made but it's the same exact thing:

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post #4 of 49 Old 03-03-2017, 09:23 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Steve! Yes, I will be riding in the paddock for a while before I go out on a trail with it! But Kodak is pretty steady on trails - her pace stays the same coming and going, unlike Harley, who gets very jiggy on the way home. The only thing I have to watch with Kodak is the spooking. She can take off on a spook so I need to be able to rein her in, but usually a one-rein stop works well. She just needs to be reminded that I'm there, and that there's nothing to be scared of. She doesn't continue to run once I rein her in. And yes, the two times I got dumped when she spooked, I was distracted! Have learned my lesson the hard way on that. :)

Having a look at that ebay one! I definitely want to keep this affordable since I don't know whether we will like it or not.
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post #5 of 49 Old 03-03-2017, 10:11 AM
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I have the most experience with a dr cook's bitless bridle. While both horses I used it on were ok with it- my mare seems a little bothered by it ( its only when I am working with more contact attempting to collect). Also, whenever I use too much reign for her liking, she lifts her head ( can't be sure its the bridle and not her being finicky- however, it has helped me use leg more)

Have you tried just using a nicely fitted halter? I ask because if she goes good in that, a simple side pull type bridle may be a good choice. I know halters slide up and all, but it's worth trying to see if a side pull style would work, then invest in a bridle.

With the Dr Cooks, some horses seem to not like how the pressure is dispersed and therefore lift their head. My mare goes in it, but I do want to try a side pull to see if she likes that better, or another type. For trial- you can get the cheaper brand to test it, then invest in a nicer one ( I have 1 dr cook's and one cheap brand- the Dr cook's is nicer, but the other one is fine)
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post #6 of 49 Old 03-03-2017, 11:05 AM
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My son rode Honey in a Dr Cook for quite a long time after she had an abscess in her mouth that took ages to heal. She was great in it. The leather ones are better than the synthetic because they release a lot faster. I tried the same Dr Cook on a couple of our other horses and they didn't like it at all. I think a plain sidepull would probably have worked just as well on Honey.
Something happened to K before we bought her - which is why we have her really as she would have been way more money than we would have paid for essentially a 'fun horse' if not. It's left her with a fear and total dislike of any sort of bit - she was originally evented in a bit and her dressage was pretty good.
She can get really strong and goes 'deaf' to verbal cues when that happens so a sidepull was no use for her but she's pretty good in the English style Stubben hackamore. You don't have the long shanks but you do have more power when needed than in a sidepull. We've also had her in a Beetle hackamore with a sheepskin over the noseband - also short shanked - she was pretty good in that too but DH preferred in her in the Stubben
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post #7 of 49 Old 03-03-2017, 11:24 AM
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I did not have a good experience with Dr. Cook's on my mare- but I think that's because she was ridden by a couple of kids in it and learned she could just throw up her nose and pull them into the middle of the ring (she was used in a summer camp with permission while I was out of town). When I got on her with it, it required extraordinary leg and a really strong, almost tugging, outside rein to keep her out. Not pleasant for anyone. I suppose she could have been retrained out of that with consistent riding, but it wasn't worth it to me as she goes fine in a simple snaffle in the arena.

She goes great in the Zilco flower hackamore. I had never heard of it before it was recommended by several people on the Forum. I mostly wanted bitless to let her graze while out on the trail. I do not like grazing in a bit as the long grass we have gets twisted around the bit. She's got a good whoa in the flower and doesn't try to do any of the annoying pulling in the arena either. I've been really pleased with it.

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post #8 of 49 Old 03-03-2017, 12:07 PM
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My Arab spent his entire life in a mechanical hackamore, after I rescued him. He was a lesson horse for small children and some of those children went on trail rides in the state park with him.

TWH Rusty was 2-1/2 when I bought him. The Seller said he went best in a mechanical hackamore. After trying several bits, including a 3 ounce sweet bit, I put him back in a mechanical hackamore.

TWH Sultan was losing his caps so I put him in a Dr. Cook's (real leather). It was supposed to be temporary but he did so well, I kept him in it.

Dr. Cook's do put more poll pressure on a horse. The rider needs very light hands and this may not be something for a child to use.

Mechanical hackamores can cause nose-nerve damage if too much pressure is used.

There are many more varieties of bit less bridles, these are the only two I have first hand experience with.
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post #9 of 49 Old 03-03-2017, 12:14 PM
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Could you contact the trainer you worked with to see what she used, as it seemed to work well?

The sensitivity of the internet baffles me.
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post #10 of 49 Old 03-03-2017, 05:03 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Zexious View Post
Could you contact the trainer you worked with to see what she used, as it seemed to work well?
I can. It looked like a plain biothane bridle and I know who made it, but she's not making them anymore.
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