Why even use a bit? - Page 2
 
 

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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
  • I only use a halter and reins and my horse doesnt move where i want him to
  • Myler horse bits

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    10-09-2012, 12:35 AM
  #11
Trained
My horse certainly prefers her big bad Kimberwick to riding in halter. She knows precisely what I want in a bit, but a halter allows too much room for confusion.

The discipline matters greatly. If you are just riding trails, it's easy to say my horse knows what I want. In dressage? Hardly. I can combine a seat, leg, and rein aid and my horse can move a particular muscle. Can you do that?

If your only intention is to tell us you have better horses and methods than we do, I don't plan on continuing posting. You said you were genuinely curious, which suggests you have an open mind. If you don't, you'll find most of us have no tolerance for that.
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    10-09-2012, 12:37 AM
  #12
Weanling
My old horse Shadow won't let you put a bit in her mouth. When I got Phar Lap I tried a bit and he kept rearing and crow hopping. I put a hackamore on him and he was a total different horse. I ride both of them most of the time with just a halter and they are very sensitive with those and do what I want when I want. Plus, when we go trail riding and take breaks it is nice not having a bit in their mouth so they can eat grass easier. It seems to be a much better break for them too.
     
    10-09-2012, 12:41 AM
  #13
Started
Honestly, I find a number of mild bits even gentler than many rope halters. Rope halters with thin rope or knots on the soft pressure points of their faces can be seriously painful. I used this example before, but I (a barely 5 foot tall girl) can take down a full grown man wit the use of pressure points, and you can ask him, the pressure HURTS. There are a large number of mild bits designed for riding and communicating more clearly than a rope halter anyway.

Look at mullen mouth unbroken snaffles, or french link snaffles, or bumper sweet water curbs, or those soft rubber bits (not talking about happy mouths, talking about the ones made completely out of rubber that's a straight bar and bends in their mouth). Inside the horse's mouth the horse has the ability to move and hold the bit with their tongue and angle their heads in a way to relieve all pressure. With a rope halter they can't relieve excessive pressure or the mild pressure of it simply resting on them, like they can with a bit.
These are those bits I was referring to:


Rope halters also are NOT designed for riding in, when using one like a side pull you are guaranteed to twist it, putting the knots in all the wrong places, even potentially dangerous places. It slides all up and down their face when reins are used. When using one like a bosal with a rope tied to the bottom, the communication is ALL wrong. Don't even get me started on too much pressure with that one!
See how it slides around? It's nearly poking the horse's eye out:


Many bitless options are actually far more dangerous than a mild-medium bit. I've seen more and more broken noses in horses with this new 'bitless' craze. Mechanical hackamores and poorly fitting rope halters are just plain dangerous. Any tool used improperly is dangerous, bitless does not equal nicer.

All this being said, my horses are all taught riding with mild bits, then I put them in Indian hackamore's, that's my bitless preference. I personally put a nose fuzzy on mine, so they solid rope over the nose has some cushion so that it doesn't bother or rub her nose. I also only use the variety that have metal rings for the reins to run through, rather than fabric loops, so release of pressure is immediate.
Indian Hackamore (this one's pretty strong, with such narrow ropes, mine's thicker and again has a nose fuzzy on):


Now I completely agree people need to spend more time with their horses rather than just up-bitting them. But bit's used properly are just fine.

ETA: Wow in the time it took me to write this it went from no responses to 2 pages xD hot topic I think!
     
    10-09-2012, 12:43 AM
  #14
Trained
I feel that riding with a bit affords a more precise communication between myself and my horse. I find that the communication in some ways is less clear in a halter.

Personally most people that I see riding in a halter do it just to brag about doing it and don't ride under a particular discipline.
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    10-09-2012, 12:43 AM
  #15
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexis rose    
My old horse Shadow won't let you put a bit in her mouth. When I got Phar Lap I tried a bit and he kept rearing and crow hopping. I put a hackamore on him and he was a total different horse. I ride both of them most of the time with just a halter and they are very sensitive with those and do what I want when I want. Plus, when we go trail riding and take breaks it is nice not having a bit in their mouth so they can eat grass easier. It seems to be a much better break for them too.
Obviously, some horses will not do well in any bit. However, without trying every bit, you don't know that your horse doesn't like any bit. Some horses have low palettes and are harder to bit, some have neglected teeth, some have injuries, etc etc.

If I just wanted a horse that would go easily on a trail/pleasure ride, I would keep my little one in a halter. However, we will eventually get into dressage. I cannot, ever, train her to piaffe in a flat nylon halter with broad, imprecise cues. Once she learns how, sure, but not to train it.

OP, what is it you DO with your horses, exactly?

ETA: Well said Punks!
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    10-09-2012, 12:47 AM
  #16
Started
Also I wanted to add there are a number of jointed bits that can be kind and mild too, I noticed I only really pointed out the unjointed ones. Myler has come up with a gentle formula for bits (with steep prices to match x.x) but I like their designs:


ETA: It looks like there's no description for those things. Copper inlay for increased salivation and something to keep the horse's mouth soft. Slimmer mouth peice for more room for the tongue. Barrel to prevent nut-cracker action. Curved mouth piece to provide complete tongue relief. Smooth action, means the bit turns rather than pinches. The hooks provide a clear place for reins and headstall keeping the bit held and working properly. Though I wish they put the hooks on the other side so they didn't poke in, but not all mylers are like that.
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    10-09-2012, 01:09 AM
  #17
Trained
Quote:
Originally Posted by KSL    

I disagree that any horse "loves" any bit. You wouldn't "love" a metal bar stuck in your mouth. Tolerate it well, maybe.
I don't love hay, grass living in a field, I wouldn't want to carry someone on my back for miles either. I prefer to travel in the truck rather than the trailer.

I can see little point in the comparisons.

I'm sure my horses would be quite content to live their lives without my inconvenient and 'abusive' insistence at putting saddles on them, bits in their mouths and requiring them to do my bidding for a small % of their lives.
     
    10-09-2012, 01:46 AM
  #18
Trained
I switched from bitless to a bit because as I advanced as a rider, I wanted more communication with my horse. More precise communication. With a bit, if she gets excited and starts to go faster or get strung out - something she is prone to do - I can take the slack out of the rein as each shoulder starts to move forward. Left, right, left right...and my horses interpret that as 'move your front leg a little less far'. In about 6-10 strides, they will relax and collect a little. The result is a more relaxed, balanced trot or canter. It also works when my mare gets worried about something. It seems to establish in her mind that I'm on her back and I know what I want her to do.

I couldn't do that bitless. My mare didn't know what a bit was until a year ago, but I have no desire to go back.

No, I've never had a bloody mouthed horse. They don't flinch at the sight of a bit. They open their mouths for it to go in. They release it gently at the end of the ride.

Do they love it? Nope. They don't love having a saddle put on either. At heart, they would be happier if I left them in the corral and fed and watered them forever without riding. But they nuzzle me at the end of the ride and I don't tie them up to clean or saddle them, so they don't object very much.

I do object to people who haven't met my horses telling me bitless is better. I spent 3 years bitless and my horses are more eager and more confident with a bit. YMMV.
     
    10-09-2012, 02:06 AM
  #19
Started
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsms    
I do object to people who haven't met my horses telling me bitless is better. I spent 3 years bitless and my horses are more eager and more confident with a bit. YMMV.
I agree, bsms (yes, I actually said that! ). My horse willingly accepts the bit (a mild one) and I have no intention of changing to a bosal or rope halter - the communication from a bit is a lot clearer and he gets very frustrated when he feels like he is getting unclear or mixed signals. And frustration ends up in a massive bucking temper tantrum if I can't stop it from escalating...
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    10-09-2012, 03:05 AM
  #20
Trained
If we're going down the bitless vs bitted path...
Do you ride in a saddle? Saddles are cruel, all horses that wear a saddle have got some kind of musculature issue along their backs. No matter how well fitting the saddle is, it compresses the muscles and causes damage.

Giving horses grain isn't natural, is that cruel?

Putting a horse in a trailer, must be cruel. Confining a prey/flight response animal in a small rattling, moving box.

Taking a horse away from its paddock mates it cruel.

How about getting its teeth filed? Very cruel.
Shoes? Torture.

Tell my horses how much their being abused by wearing a bit.... especially my gelding who opens his mouth for me. And my 2 year old who has only just been mouthed and already searches for the bit when I bring his bridle out.

If your hands are quiet enough to not smack the horse in the mouth with a bit, then maybe the rider should go back to learning to ride with an independant seat. Otherwise, if you're a good enough rider not to be yanking on a horse's face, they don't have many objections to a well fitting, comfortable bit.
     

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