No brakes in bitless
I have a mare around eight to ten years old, used as a cow pony on the farm. Recently due to some minor damage to her bit seat, my equine dentist suggested I put her in a BB if possible. I did not think it would be a problem, this is a mare who once or twice in the past have been ridden in a halter and leadrope. So I put her in a cross-under bitless bridle. It's a no-name brand I picked up a few years ago at a tack shop. So last week she went out in the BB to go gather cows, riders reported no problems upon coming back, so when they had to work again today I didn't think twice. Halfway thru her rider came back and complained she was beilng difficult, especially to stop. So she was put back in her normal double-link snaffle (copper lozenge in middle) and the problems ended.
I would really like to put\ keep her in a BB, was wondering if a sidepull might be an option? Or is there some or BB type I can try or should I just leave her in her snaffle?
Some horses just won't stop bitless. I would stick with the bit.
try a side pull if you have access to one. Personaly, both me and my horses hate the cross under style. Oh and keep in mind that just like you have to train them to be responsive to a snaffle, it may take a few rides to get her responding properly to a sidepull.
If the horse doesn't have the proper training to begin with, it's no wonder so many people have trouble with transitioning to bitless. If the horse doesn't have good, solid, thorough training to begin with, you can't just slap a bitless on them and expect them to respond the same way they do in the bit. If they aren't prepared, then you need to take the time to train them to respond to the bitless, just as if you were starting them from scratch.
I've ridden my horses mostly bitless, using a side pull. However, I've started using a bit regularly.
What I found was that a bit gives me better control because it allows more subtle inputs. If my horses aren't excited, the will obey a sidepull as well as a bit, and maybe better. But two of my horses are pretty excitable. The Appy is pretty relaxed, unless you ask him to canter. He loves cantering. After one stretch of cantering, he'll anticipate it for the next half hour. Ask him to trot, and he'll trot in a choppy, head up, I'm ready to explode manner.
I guess the good news is that he'll then explode into a canter if asked, but he is a PITA until then. And with a sidepull halter, I cannot get him to calm down.
Same situation, with a bit, I can pull back my little finger about 1/2 inch on the side his front leg is moving forward, and then the next side. Basically, I ask him to move his front leg a little less with each stride. In about 4-6 strides, he has settled down.
My mare gets excited about a lot of things. Shouting "NOOO!!!" by pulling hard on the sidepull does nothing to help. Again, working my little finger on the bit, repeating with each stride, and she will USUALLY settle down without getting angry.
I started using a sidepull because my mare did better with it. Fast forward 3 years, and the trainer I hired to work with her (and me) concluded she had never been broken to using a bit at all, and had no idea why it was there or what it was for. That turned into about 2 months of practice with drive reins, until Mia learned to respond to the bit.
For now, I consider a bit to be essential safety equipment for Mia. Not because I need to be able to jerk on her mouth and cause pain, but because I need to be able to send her subtle signals. If I want her to stay in control, I need to be able to tell her to ease off just a hair. The sidepull doesn't give me that, and she hasn't learned the self-control yet to control herself.
BTW - I tried a cross-under style once. ONCE. It didn't give a release fast enough, and it really pissed off my mare. That was not a long ride, nor a fun one.
Along with what Smrobs said about maybe the horse lacking the fundamental understanding of stopping itself when signalled to stop, vs stopping from being dragged to a stop,
your horse might not like the way cross under bitless bridles kind of "sqeeze" the face from all side. Sometime it makes the horse feel claustrophobic, and they will run against this. That's what I have been told, though I have never ridden in one of them myself.
My horse has never ridden in a bit. We use the Dr. Cooks bitless bridle. They definitely need to be adjusted right and the horse needs to get used to it...but once they do it's a great choice!
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