Bitless Bridles? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 3 Old 05-31-2012, 12:17 AM Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Alabama
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Bitless Bridles?

Hello everyone!

I've been very curious about bitless bridles for some time now. I was just browsing my favorite tack website and noticed that they have some for sale. So, I just wanted to ask: how do I know if my horse is suitable to attempt the use of a bitless bridle?

Rebel tends to play with his bit a lot, and likes to try and flip it under his tongue and then over his tongue. So I wondered if he might enjoy the bitless bridle.

Can anyone also tell me how riding with a bitless bridle is different from riding with a bit? I ride western, using split reins and neck reining.
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post #2 of 3 Old 05-31-2012, 09:43 AM
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I have a Dr. Cook's bitless bridle that I've been using until my horse sees the dentist next month. It did take a few lessons for her to understand how it works because the pressure is in an different place, but after that we've used it just like a regular bridle. I find that the Dr. Cooks needs to be respected just like a bit; it can be harsh if you really pull on it (and I have stopped my running, spooking green horse with it more than once) but if your hands are gentle it is very mild. I've actually found that it can be more effective at stopping my horse than a bit because when/if you need to really pull hard it's more of an uncomfortable pressure than pain so it doesn't freak her out more in a spook.

There are a few issues with the Dr.Cook that I'm not impressed with, though. It doesn't release pressure immediately when you do so there is a slight lag that makes serious training frustrating. You might look into a side pull to avoid that problem. Also people will give you funny looks and occasionally write you off as a crazy natural horsemanship cook that's afraid to discipline their horse :P

So, if you want something for neck reining that has a good stop if you need it then a Dr. Cooks would probably work well. I find that they are less ideal for schooling with a direct rein.

I am here to learn! :)

Last edited by WalnutPixie; 05-31-2012 at 09:50 AM.
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post #3 of 3 Old 05-31-2012, 10:48 AM
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
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Bitless tends to be less subtle than a bit. Most apply any pressure over a larger area and in a less sensitive spot, which makes very light movements of the reins less distinct to the horse.

OTOH, something like a sidepull halter is pretty hard for a beginner rider to screw up. My horses will switch between them without problem. Neck reining still works fine with a sidepull. I've never used a real "Dr Cook", but I used a cheap imitation that my horses did NOT like because the release from pressure was so slow.

My mare was bitless only for years, but she now seems to prefer a bit. I don't think there is any difference in terms of raw stopping power, but I find a bit makes it easier for me to calm them down before a bolt, which is why I now use a bit all the time.

Just my experience with 2 horses. Haven't tried a bitless on my mustang yet.

"Make the right thing easy and the wrong thing...well, ignore it mostly."
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