Bitless Bridles - love'em or hate'em? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 07-27-2011, 12:26 PM Thread Starter
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Bitless Bridles - love'em or hate'em?

I recently rode in a bitless bridle (Dr. Cook) for the first time. I was riding my friend's relatively green TB Welsh Cob cross, a horse that formerly had very little brakes, and I haven't ridden much these past few years so I was a bit nervous - you don't want to catch a greenie in the mouth! Anyways, I loved the bitless bridle. And after watching a riding lesson yesterday with beginners just starting to jump, I was thinking that every school pony should wear one!

What have your experiences with bitless bridles been? So far I've heard nothing but good things; anyone had negative experiences?
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post #2 of 11 Old 07-27-2011, 12:31 PM
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i'm undecided right now. I get alot of headshaking from my Connemara but I was told her does that with a bit too. I'll let youk onw the more rides I get on him.
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post #3 of 11 Old 07-27-2011, 12:36 PM
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What's to love or hate?
To take either strong stance is poor form, IMO. Every horse has different needs and a person must be open to look for Whatever works best for THE HORSE, regardless of personal prejudice. To discount either bridle is limiting yourself. While bridleless is not my first choice for any horses I ride, a student just discovered her horse works really well in one for trail riding.
Too bad it's not legal in dressage.
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post #4 of 11 Old 07-27-2011, 12:39 PM
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My friend, who competes at Prelim, has a TB mare who goes very well with a Bitless Bridle. She's much more softer and happier in the bridle, and they do quite well with it.

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post #5 of 11 Old 07-27-2011, 12:48 PM Thread Starter
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Allison - you're right, perhaps my wording was strong :) I guess I was being a bit flip in the subject line... and I agree, it's all about what works for each individual horse. It is too bad about the legality in some disciplines, though. The Hunter folks won't use them either, because they're considered 'unconventional tack' and marked down.
MIEventer, does that mean they're legal in eventing? What about the dressage phase? That would be cool!
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post #6 of 11 Old 07-27-2011, 01:30 PM
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Soda hated the Dr. Cook, he works very well and happily in a french link snaffle. I'll probably try in him a bosal at some point just for fun.

I have not tried a bitless option on Lily yet, she's pretty wonky about face pressure still and I don't want to give her a bad taste with it.

One of my friend has all of her horses in bosals and they work very nicely. She will be working them in snaffles too, but it's more of a "make sure they can do it" thing then a control issue. Another friend has one horse in a bosal, one in a Dr. Cook, and two in snaffles. They all work well and happily in their bit/bridle/bitless of choice. Another friend has her horse in a curb and her horse works happily.

Like the others I prefer to take a horse as an individual and figure out what they like/prefer.
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post #7 of 11 Old 07-27-2011, 03:48 PM
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They are only legal in the jumping phases of eventing. Dressage still requires a bit.
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post #8 of 11 Old 07-27-2011, 03:56 PM Thread Starter
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Good to know... I'm so intrigued by them right now that I started writing in scene with a bitless bridle in my sequel :) Although I realize that much of my excitement is due to the fact that I saw one extreme of its use: a horse who goes dramatically better, which of course won't always be the case. Still, it's nice to have lots of tack options.

What are your thoughts on bitless bridles for beginners' school horses? At least until students develop independent hands?
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post #9 of 11 Old 07-27-2011, 03:59 PM
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Just be aware that bitless bridles may not have a bit, but they can be tough on a horse in other ways. Some of these bridles are tougher than others. Bad riders can make the horse just as uncomfortable in these bridles as a bitted bridle can.
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post #10 of 11 Old 07-27-2011, 04:08 PM
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Well a bitless bridle can still add a lot of pressure, but just to the face instead of the mouth. So I'm not really sure where I stand with beginners using them.

I've never really tried a side pull so I can give any imput there. I used an english hackamore for my last horse for a little while because he was very very busy with the bit (and his previous owner did jerk alot) so I decided to give him a little break and learn to move without having his mouth gaping open. After that I switched back to the bit (a double-jointed french link snaffle) and he went really well in it. But I continued to use the hackmore on trail rides so he could eat some grass when we had a break.

I don't think I'd ever use one on my new mare. She doesn't seem to respond well at all from poll pressure. She's gotten a lot better now but when I first got her she'd fly backwards if you even pulled on the halter. I could picture her having some sort of overload. I did ride her in a halter once (bareback) just to see what would happen and she did respond to that better than I thought.

I don't really have much experience with bitless bridles but I do believe that they have their place but aren't the right thing for all horses.

"You know, for as long as I can remember, I've had memories." ~Colin Mochrie
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