Snaffle VS. Bitless on the trail
   

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Snaffle VS. Bitless on the trail

This is a discussion on Snaffle VS. Bitless on the trail within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Bitless bridles vs snaffle
  • Trail riders bits vs bitless why do you use the tack you use

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    11-27-2012, 08:20 PM
  #1
Foal
Snaffle VS. Bitless on the trail

I'm looking fo some opinions about this. I've been using a bitless bridle on the horse I've been leasing for a long time, and she does very well with it. Well, I just bought my own horse from a man in my town who is well known as an effective trainer who breeds and makes wonderful horses. She is indeed wonderful, and I hardly need a bit on her at all, except to slow down her trot and canter into something a little easier. I told him that I have been using a bitless and he said he thinks those things are stupid, especially for the trail. He said if you're in a bit, and something bad happens (which is always a possibility) that you're going to have that leverage that you need. He said if an accident starts happening on a trail, a horse takes off or whatever, and you're in a bitless, you could be in a lot of trouble. It makes sense to me, so I bought a snaffle bit and a bridle to use for the trails. It makes sense to me to use something a horse is used to while we get used to each other, and it makes sense to use something that is a little safer for me. He said "don't do the horse a favor, do yourself a favor...you should put your safety before the comfort of the horse, and you can be just as light or as harsh with a snaffle as you can with a bitless"

I have a bit and bridle coming in the mail, but what do you guys think. Should I use the bit all the time since that's what she's used to? (She's 9) Should I use the bitless in the arena and save the bit for the trails?
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    11-27-2012, 08:28 PM
  #2
Green Broke
I think he's giving you conflicting advice. If you can be as harsh or easy in a snaffle as you can bitless, then what's the difference?

Your horse needs a good solid whoa. If you have no brakes, it doesn't matter what tack you're in. You're horse can run off in a snaffle or bitless.

FWIW tons of endurance riders go bitless and in the hours and hours they ride when doing a long run they are in a much higher probability of getting into a mess than a regular rider.

I ride my horse in both (not at once) and we solo trails without issue.
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    11-27-2012, 08:36 PM
  #3
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by DancingArabian    
I think he's giving you conflicting advice. If you can be as harsh or easy in a snaffle as you can bitless, then what's the difference?

Your horse needs a good solid whoa. If you have no brakes, it doesn't matter what tack you're in. You're horse can run off in a snaffle or bitless.

FWIW tons of endurance riders go bitless and in the hours and hours they ride when doing a long run they are in a much higher probability of getting into a mess than a regular rider.

I ride my horse in both (not at once) and we solo trails without issue.
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My ultimate goal with her is to condition her for competitive trail riding. And she has awesome breaks. Breaks unlike anything I've ever had before on a horse. When we went to grab her today in the pasture, she started walking off and he said whoa and she stopped and waited for the halter. When I was riding her today, she went from a canter to a stop on "whoa" with no pulling on the reins at all. The reason I started using a bitless was because the horse I was riding would fight the bit, and I thought I may be heavy handed. I've grown a lot this past year as a horse-woman and I'm learning new things every day. I know that it is MY error to be heavy handed, and I have to improve there, which I feel that I have done a great deal of this past year.

A horse that I was riding earlier this year was pretty green and I had been using a bitless with her all along. We hit the trails, and she was doing well, but she spooked at something, and I completely lost control of her, to the point that even the one rein emergency stop wouldn't work, because she was just going forward with her head turned.

The horse I just bought is COMPLETELY different than that horse mentioned, but I feel like any horse is still a potential danger. I would like to keep using a bitless, but do you think it would be a good idea to take some time for her and I to get used to each other before hitting the trails with a bitless. I've only ridden her 4 times so far.
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    11-27-2012, 08:37 PM
  #4
Green Broke
I think what he means is, just because its a bit does not mean it has to be harsh. You make it what it is. And if it were me, I would probably use what she is used to if it works.
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    11-27-2012, 08:40 PM
  #5
Green Broke
Personally since I trail ride solo pretty much always I think a good, trusting relationship is important. I think it's a good idea to develop a working relationship and bond with her some. You want her to look to you for leadership.

If you can ride with other people though and she's good with groups I'd go for it.

Be sure she likes the type of bitless you go with. I use a hackamore - my horse freaked out when I tried a cross under bitless!
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    11-27-2012, 08:51 PM
  #6
Foal
The one I have is pretty much like a sidepull. I'm excited to take her home and build a bond with her. Even after 4 rides, she looks at me like she recognizes me and she has responded better to me each time we ride. I'm so excited to see how things turn out. I'm hoping to do a trail with a friend this weekend. I've actually never been on a real trail ride alone. When I'm alone, I usually ride around in the pasture (not with other horses, of course) and in the arena. Any tips for trail riding alone?
     
    11-27-2012, 09:03 PM
  #7
Green Broke
Sure :)

Wear a helmet
Tell people at least the general direction of where you're going and how long you think you will be
Carry your cell phone ON YOU - not on your horse. If you and the horse separate you need to be able to call for help
If you're concerned about the horse running off and getting lost put an ID tag somewhere that people can see
When its hunting season wear the ugly neon stuff. I wear bells too
If there might be dogs or other animals that lose a threat, carry a weapon . Wasp spray is safer than pepper spray.


And have fun!
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    11-27-2012, 09:07 PM
  #8
Green Broke
He is totally right about bits and bitless being just as harsh as each other. At the end of the day, a snaffle is an inanimate piece of metal, and a bitless is an inanimate piece of leather. What turns them into tools to guide the horse is the hands of the rider using them, and that is what decides if they are going to be soft or hard. You can do just as much damage to the horse in a bitless as you can in a snaffle, if you ride like a moron.
     
    11-27-2012, 09:56 PM
  #9
Foal
I've been riding my 2 mares with a bitless bridle on trails for several yrs. I have a gelding that I ride in a full cheek snaffle, but hope to get him into a bitless next yr. When I started using the bitless on the mares, I ground drove them and worked them in the round pen first. Then for awhile I used a headstall that had snaps on it. So I would take a bit along in my saddle bag, so I'd have it in case I wanted to switch back. You can still do a one rein stop with the bitless if the need be.
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    11-28-2012, 12:28 AM
  #10
Weanling
Mine goes in her sidepull on the trail, usually. I use it for jumping and XC too, only use her bit for dressage because I have to! My mare really loves her sidepull (her nose/mouth are pink so she gets sunburned in the summer and I think bits irritate her) and I haven't really ever had control problems with it.
     

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