Another one for bitless riding, which I generally do in a rope halter, mainly because they're convenient & require little care compared to a leather or webbing one - I don't see a big difference between a rope halter & a flat one actually, *when trained/used properly*. I ride with a string around my horse's neck too(using it as the 'safety chain' in case the bodylanguage controls 'break'
), but only in the property. Always have a halter on when we're out, for Justin. I also ride in a bridle with a soft leather hack... effectively just a pretty version of a halter, when I want to 'dress up' my horse.
To me the big differences that cause me to prefer a halter to a bit are the physiological effects of working a horse with something in their mouth(look up Dr Cook's site for more info) and the potential for causing serious pain if/when accidents happen, or with not so well trained horses or riders. Halters/bitless bridles have ability to hurt when used roughly/accidents, but I believe it's far less likely to be so harsh/strong.
Haven't read all replies, but thought I'd comment on a couple...
Re liking a halter rather than metal in their mouth...
I disagree. I have had many horses be unhappy by the nose pressure, even if that is what they are started in.
I think that's more dependent on how they're trained/ridden. If the horse has been ridden roughly in a halter, they can definitely get an 'attitude' about nose pressure & be more relaxed about a bit handled well.
he does okay until we come to a patch of grass, and all he does is eat. ..... When we're not near any grass, he won't yield his head to me for the turns.
Pardon the pun, but I think it sounds like you're biting off more than you can chew
. I would be wanting him to be responsive & reliable with the basics first, starting in a controlled environment without distractions. And it sounds like he's learned it's worth his while to brace against the pressure & ignore you. You need to find ways to teach him it's worth his while listening to you. I use a mix of positive reinforcement & pressure/release. Eg. I'd make it more uncomfortable for him to ignore you, using rythmic pressure instead of steady, to prevent him bracing against it - quick give & takes(don't like to say jerks) on the rein, &/or tapping with your legs/heels. Keep it up until he deigns to stop grazing, at which time you instantly stop all pressure to 'negatively reinforce' the Good behaviour. Along with that I'd be positively reinforcing him with something as good as the grass, to encourage him Want to do as you ask.
Halters are made to tie your horse up with and a brilde is made to ride in. Not sure why people think that there is something magical about riding a horse in a halter.
I don't know why people think there's something magical about riding with a bit.
I don't think halters were just designed to tie a horse with(& I'm very cautious about tying a horse firm in a rope one...), but people just discovered that it was easier to control a horse with a device in it's mouth to force compliance(not saying it's always used that way or I'm against good use of one on a trained horse).