Originally Posted by Corporal
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.
I'm going to respectfully disagree. My mare, who I would call an advanced greenie, was used as a commercial trail horse for her life till I bought her. Her mouth was hard - subtle signals just didn't get through to her. She is fantastic on the ground, and bareback, and even saddled with a halter. She hated the bit. She would go in it just fine, but her dislike was obvious no matter what bit we tried (and we tried several with no change in results). She'd ridden her whole life with dozens of strangers per day yanking this way and that on her mouth for years and even once we straightened out what signals meant what and she understood what I wanted, she didn't like doing it if it had bit pressure involved. She had a 'head scooping' habit that's only present when a bit is used - very long story about that, but it took a long time to figure out why she was doing it. She would tolerate it and work in it but was far from happy.
She now rides in a little S and the first time I had it on her was a night and day difference. She listens a hundred times better. She no longer has her ears back when practicing certain things. She's calmer. Signals go through tons better - backing is a big one. I barely have to lift a finger for it. She no longer scoops her head, she will stand patiently if we're not working. It's an overall better, more pleasant experience for the both of us - and she's far from a finished horse.
I guess what I'm getting at here is different things for different horses. Not all will work well bitless. And not all will be happy bitted, due to whatever circumstances. I don't think one can have a general blanket statement and be accurate.
ETA: I initially was going to go bitless and work her back into a bit slowly. But she's so much happier and more responsive and willing to work that I'll probably stick with the little S.