Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: southern Arizona
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.
"People can teach us the rules, but only horses can teach us the art of riding."