Bitless bridle on hard mouthed horse?

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Bitless bridle on hard mouthed horse?

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  • Hackamores for OTTBs
  • Happy horses with hard on

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    10-06-2013, 08:40 PM
Bitless bridle on hard mouthed horse?

I was wondering if a bitless bridle would work for my Arab. He was ridden in a harsh bit his whole life for being "hard to stop". I have transitioned him (with much patience) into a D ring snaffle with rubber bars, I am still working on slowing his canter down, but his trot is gorgeous. He pulls very hard on the bit at the canter, like he used to do at the trot. I think he may have some nerve damage from the bit his previous "trainer" had him in. I swear, the thing looked like a torture device from the depths of hell. It had 5 inch shanks and a jagged chain through his mouth with two (very tight, to the point he would bleed) curb chains. I know that a hard mouth is a training issue, and I have very light hands and good balance, but I think he may be most comfortable wearing the least amount of tack possible (they also had an elaborate series of tack attached to his girth, barrel saddle and breast collar that looked like someone put a giant rope spiderweb on him). Has anyone had any experience with these on hard mouthed horses? And I have switched him to English, which he seems to love, and he is progressing wonderfully. I was liking the look of the jubilee bitless bridles, but any help is greatly appreciated.
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    10-06-2013, 08:59 PM
Green Broke
I use a short shanked mechanical hackamore with padded noseband and leather curb strap (I think some folks refer to them as English hackamores). None of my horses have ever shown any dislike for it and go quietly in it. Two of them have been OTTBs and once the bit was out of their mouths it was a whole different ball game (I like trail riding by the way). This may work better in your circumstance over a direct side pull. I say this because I'm a little concerned that your guy is strong in the canter (bridle wise) and you may not have good stopping or slowing down power just using a direct pull if you get into an awkward situation.

If you decide to use this type, keep your rein contact minimal - given his tendencies as you describe them constant contact will end up with him bulling through that as well. I am sure that you will continue to reschool him and at some point you will get him to the point you can ride the canter in your snaffle.
    10-06-2013, 09:01 PM
Green Broke
In my experience, a hard mouthed horse is hard mouthed no matter what area of his face the pressure is coming from -- nose or mouth. There are some exceptions, but I wouldn't expect miracles just from switching head gear.

Also, I'm not a fan of cross under style bitless bridles. In my experience, they don't offer a good release, make horses want to carry their heads high, and honestly most horses seem to find them annoying. I wouldn't buy one until you've at least tried it on your horse and ridden him with one for a while.

I ride one of my mares bitless in either a rope halter or a little S hackamore. I'm a bit fan of the little S, personally.
bsms likes this.
    10-06-2013, 09:29 PM
Green Broke
First and foremost, huge appreciation for your seeing an abusive problem and your tremendous care in correcting it! My heart goes out to that poor horse in the hands of such a horrid 'trainer' - he has to be truly special to be so trusting and compliant with you after who-knows-what kind of pain.... I ride my horses bit less - they were well cared for by their previous owner, but I find that if I can ride without a bit, then why even use it? Simple rope reins attached to their halters, and I have obedient, happy, and comfortable horses! Keep up the good work :)
Chickenoverlord likes this.
    10-06-2013, 10:11 PM
Thanks northernstar! It was to the point that his "trainer" had dumped him in a back pasture because he either bucked people off or ran away with them, and I just clicked with him one day when he was brought in to the barn. I was the only one who could ride him without him attempting murder, and they wanted rid of him. I was told that it was hopeless due to his age (he is 18) and the fact that he was gelded VERY late (12).
I have only owned him for about 6 months, but he is like a different horse. He runs and plays in the pasture, and follows me like a dog, plus he looks amazing for his age. By some miracle of genetics, he looks and acts like a 8 year old! The vet thought I was lying about his age till he looked at his teeth! Plus, he has the best back ever for bareback riding, so my butt is also happy, lol. I did overpay for him, because the owner acted like she was going to back out of the deal, and I really love this horse.

I have considered a jumping hacks ore, but I heard that it could crush the horses airway, is that true?
    10-06-2013, 10:18 PM
Green Broke
I have the hackamore sit up higher on the face (bone underneath) so there is no danger of closing off an airway - plus the noseband is very broad. I could see, in theory at least, how a hackamore may cut off air if it was fitted too low on the face.
    10-07-2013, 10:38 AM
The two times I had to deal with this I went back to the beginning, my bosal. I started the horse over making sure they would give to the pressure and flex vertically and horizontally, then worked on the rest after.
    10-07-2013, 11:16 AM
Would you go to the shop and replace your new brake pads on your car with worn ones? That is what you are suggesting by going to a bitless bridles.
Bitless bridles ONLY work on finished horses. I saw a 4yo horse on Julie Goodnight's program recently that stopped immediately with a weight aid, light rein aid and a verbal "Whoa." The verbal "Whoa" is what you horse needs to learn, bc THAT is a reliable stop. Then you build on that for control.
I suggest a good month of ground training to retrain your horse to listen. Harsher bits will never work and certainly you will have a runaway with a bitless bridle.
    10-07-2013, 01:30 PM
My horse used to have to be ridden in a kimberwick with a tight tight chain. It took ALOT of transition work and general riding to get him to the point where he is riding in a thick snaffle with 2 breaks. It takes time. As soon as I started using a mechanical hack with a chain, he stopped listening to it.
    10-07-2013, 01:37 PM
I'm glad that you fixed the problem but your solution with a "Tight, Tight" curb chain can cause a real wreck. You should Always tighten a chain, first by twisting it until it links smooth, and THEN, tighten so that you can get two fingers in between the chain and the horse. If the horse catches the browband or cheekpiece on anything, even while tied up while you adjust other equipment and panics you would be unable to unbridle the panicky horse. Plus, no release on the chain is a training problem.
But I DID understand your point, even though I would have used a different solution. More than one way to skin a cat, though. =D

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