Why even use a bit?

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Why even use a bit?

This is a discussion on Why even use a bit? within the Natural Horsemanship forums, part of the Training Horses category

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    10-08-2012, 11:57 PM
Why even use a bit?

I mean really? Is there even a reason. In my opinion, you should be able to perfectly control your horse with only a rope halter just as well as you could with a bit. If you can't, you need to work with your horse more. I have always been a halter and rope type of rider, but I haven't used a bit in years, even during reining and cutting competitions around home. I just don't see the point in a bit.

If something is better, healthier, more natural and less painful for the horse, why not use that? I'd go out and actually say that users of a harsh bit to gain control of their horses are selfish and don't care about the horse. Not being rude, just honest. I've ridden my entire life and my horses know what I want from them when I want it, without a bit, because I work with them.

People who don't ride their horse for a month and them jump on and yank around on the bit really just anger me. WORK with your animal and do what is best for the horse. If you can't ride without a bit, outside of the pasture, then you are not a horseman and you should work on groundwork, feel and confidence.

Anyway, I'm off my soapbox now.

But really, when would a bit be absolutely necessary (besides competition where it is required)??

Why do you use a bit? What kind of bit do you use? What real benifits does a bit bring to a horse (not the rider)??

I'm really just genuinely curious of some of the other opinions out there.
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    10-09-2012, 12:13 AM
One big reason I use a bit is because I can't show with a rope halter. If you think in order to control a horse with a bit is to yank it, yes a rope halter is better in those hands, since that means you are not using your weight, seat or legs. It is not a matter of which bit I use, it is matter of which bit my horse will reach for and how much pressure I will apply with my other aids to keep him there. While I started youngsters in bosals, they reach a point where more precision & finesse can be asked for.
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    10-09-2012, 12:17 AM
Well I mean besides from showing
    10-09-2012, 12:21 AM
Yes, I can ride both my horses [20 year old Paint mare and 4 year old QH filly] in a flat nylon halter and lead rope. I don't do this often though, because I feel using a bit allows me to give a more subtle and refined cue. Bits are useful tools. They can be abused, certainly, but it is ridiculous to assume that everyone riding in a bit doesn't have the same relationship or training with their animal as you do or that they aren't a real horseman. And I will say this loudly, BITS ARE ONLY AS HARSH AND PAINFUL AS THE RIDER USING IT.

I ride my little one in a French link D ring. Maybe it's possible to train all the things I want in her with a halter, but that would require a VERY experienced horseman and that's way over my [already high] experience level. I don't yank on her face. I can ask her to bend by squeezing with my ring finger, it applies a slight tickle to the side of her mouth. I can give and take and increase the pressure until she responds. In my opinion, by having a lead rope tied to the sides of the halter as reins doesn't allow your horse the opportunity to respond to a lighter cue. Yes, your horse can eventually be trained to respond to leg and seat aids, but you can't get on a horse for the first time and expect it to turn by applying leg.

I ride my older mare in a Kimberwick. I tried many bits, a French link, a single-jointed snaffle, a solid rubber snaffle, and finally my Kimberwick. She loves it. In this bit, I can refine our cues to ever so slight touches and pressure. She rides beautifully in it, floats underneath me, lifting her back, engaging her hindquarters, it's marvelous.

Bits are used to improve COMMUNICATION. We only speak so much "horse," we NEED something to help create a language we both can understand. I use my bits to fine tune and refine. Just because I have a bit doesn't mean I'm hanging on their mouth and causing them pain.
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    10-09-2012, 12:21 AM
I use a bit because it is clearer to my horse than just a rope halter. I can ride her in a halter and rope, but its just easier in a bit. She responds better to a bit than her halter while riding.
I've always ridden with a bit. The few horses I have ridden in a bosal the cues felt "muddy". Probably because both the horse and I weren't bosal pros.

I know how to use the bit I'm using, my horse knows how to respond to it, and I don't see why I have to work towards just a halter and lead rope.

My opinion: if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Besides, I find people that ride with lead ropes and halters only tend to just to brag about it. Not saying everyone does it to brag, just the ones I've come across that always do it, do it for bragging rights.
    10-09-2012, 12:26 AM
Well if you have ridden a well trained "bridled" horse, you will be hooked. You barely more your hand, it's just a vibration and the horse feels it and responds. Or a long strided English horse, rounding his back, reaching for contact and giving you air time with an extension like no one's business. Those things I have not been able to achieve bitless or at liberty. Heck I sweat like a hog getting my horse to jog poles at liberty!
    10-09-2012, 12:26 AM
For refinement. There are some things that you just can't do with a rope halter.

Not every horse likes being ridden without a bit. They're all individuals who have their preferences.

Riding with a bit is all fine and well, with the right set of hands. Sure, anyone can hope on and haul away at a horse's mouth. Then I understand the dislike towards bits, but not in all cases.

It'd be like telling a cross country runner that he shouldn't need to wear shoes because he can or should be able to compete without them. Sure he can, but those shoes are a tool worth using. They have a purpose, and that's to aid in his performance.
Just like riding a horse. Lets say it's a reining class. Yeah, you can go in there with a halter on and run your pattern, but you lack the finesse and refinement of a bit to clarify what you are wanting.

Using a bit IS a matter of preference, but most people chose to use them.
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    10-09-2012, 12:27 AM
Green Broke
If you are hurting the horse with a bit then your hands aren't light enough to be using it. A halter or bosal still work on pressure. Hard hands are hard no matter what you ride in.
    10-09-2012, 12:27 AM
Well it's not really for bragging rights. Mostly for the benefit of the horse.

I disagree that any horse "loves" any bit. You wouldn't "love" a metal bar stuck in your mouth. Tolerate it well, maybe.

I see no difference when I ride in a bit and a bosal. My horses were trained in a bos and respond wonderfully and super light. I don't think a bit would improve anything at all with my horses. They know what I'm asking.
    10-09-2012, 12:34 AM
Most bits aren't cruel, plenty of hands are. Rope halters still have pressure points, often in more sensitive places on the horses head. Yanking on a rope halter will be unpleasant for a horse, just as yanking on a bit would be. It's not about what you use, it's about how you use it.

If you ride properly there is nothing wrong with riding with a bit, and the responses are more refined. If I'm just riding a trail I'll ride on the buckle but if I'm doing training in the arena I want refined responses from the horse. A bosal just won't give me that. I'd also like to see someone stop an excitable young horse in a rope halter...

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