One, more thing...
COWCHICK, WHERE did you get that new Avatar picture?!?! TOTALLY ROFL!!!!
Someone (cant remember who!) posted it in one of the infamous Rick Gore threads I think....loved it, Googled "good job" images and it popped up..had to have it!
I agree with your original post.
It really is about who is using the equipment whether it be bit or bitless. If you do not know how to use that equipment it can be just as useless as tits on a boar. But in the right hands that equipment can communicate and get results without installing fear or pain.
I have said I start colts in a halter, when I mean start, I mean about three rides, not 30-90. I simply use the halter as a transition from the little ground work I do in it- to me on their back and transition them packing a snaffle to me using the snaffle. After that I evaluate and experiment with what snaffle they seem to like to pack. But that short time in the halter seems to make an impression because in a pinch(jumping a horse out of the trailer and ride in a halter to gather a pair or rope a yearling) I can go back to it and they respond.
What that tells me is that I am not "upping" into to bits to gain control.
I have already said this in the previous threads on the subject, so I am beating the dead horse but....
Usually the thoughts about bits being cruel comes from folks that don't understand how they work when used correctly. They think they are doing their horses a big favor "naturally" by riding in a halter when in fact what I have witnessed in some situations they can't manage well, let a lone a bit.
I also use a hackamore(a bosal setup, not mechanical). I grew up with the understanding that a hackamore(again a bosal setup) was a temporary training step, not a final goal. The hackamore was to keep out of a young horses mouth while his mouth was changing, maturing and to prepare him for the bridle. I have worked for a guy that would not hire you or fire you if you stepped out of the saddle barn with a hackamore hanging on a horses head. Most(and I include myself) can't ride well enough to keep a horse truly soft and responsive in a high stress situation outside with a hackamore. Last time I checked there are very few that won cowhorse shows with a hackamore against folks with a bit.
A horse can tolerate a lot more in his mouth than he can on his nose...look at all the people who can't even lead their horses or control them on the ground with a halter. You can deaden a nose faster than a mouth.
Don't get me wrong, If you want to ride in nothing but a halter and you can, go for it...but don't tell me I am an abuser because I don't.
Okay..I think I am really done with the subject ;)