I rode a mare that had been ridden with unforgiving hands. She fought being bridled. When we were first walking I touched the rein so see how responsive she was. She immediately tried to fight me so I gave her lots of rein. When she was finished I asked again. This time she responded. The third time I asked she was now so light she almost left me on the ground as she turned so quick. What was I doing? I'd merely tickle the rein with my pinky. I trained my shetland like that and my good trail horse.
Yep, bitless or bited, really doesn’t mean much if the hands on the reins are no good.