Thumbs up for bitless bridles
I am a total bitless convert, going back at least a decade. I’ve been known to hack or do dressage in a halter, but normally I use a Cook bitless bridle for both. Many of my fellow boarders and my coach have also switched over to either bitless (various brands or adapted regular bridles) or a natural-type halter. A wide variety of issues across the horses started to disappear during the first ride without a bit: tense neck carriage, heavy on forehand, grinding, head-tossing, sucked back, grabbing the pit and pulling, inconsistent rein contact, and more … all gone in one or a small number of rides. In a bitless, these same horses now have a softer and more trusting eye, more inclination to stretch the back correctly from tail to nose, freer movement, and so on. At least one horse has become a much saner companion on the trails - who knew that a bit was causing that anxiety? Senior horse or young and green, all went better. I have yet to see a horse run away in a bitless bridle. With a leather Cook bridle, be aware that the cross-over leather straps will get worn at the part where they pass through the rings on the noseband; they should last a few years, but eventually will need replacing (replacement straps are available from Cook or you could get your local leather repair shop/saddlery to make new ones). Bitless bridles are not legal for showing, but there are petitions out there to change this situation.