I'm so sorry if this topic has been done to death - I did try searching up past forums but only found debates and arguments.
I've decided I definitely want to go bitless for training my mare, but I have a few questions. My personal thought is that it would make more sense to start bitless and move on to bitted, if I ever decide to go further than 'just for fun' with her, which probably won't happen. :P If it matters, she's a small draft horse, but really I don't think it should.
My other question is which types of bitless bridles do you suggest and why? I have studied the crap out of bits and how they work and why - but am just now getting into learning about bitless bridles, so if you can explain the mechanics of it that would be fantastic.
I was looking at the Dr. Cook's and really like that one, rode a few of our lesson horses in one and they were amazing! But some parts of it looked pinchy - and the whole point is to avoid pain. What are some other types of bitless bridles, I will probably ride direct reining, I may eventually teach her neck reining for the heck of it, but my natural inclination is to direct rein.
Thank you all for being willing to go through this topic again. :P But I couldn't find very many solid suggestions or any good reasons for why those were suggested. Just a whole lot of debates about whether or not to go bitless.
At home I ride in a halter and barrel reins. I do it because I'm trying to make my mare softer in the mouth and also to avoid pain. At a show I ride her in a BL Reiner (western) and a loose ring snaffle (english) I don't like to use harsh bits because I don't want her to rely on my reins and ignore my leg signals. I herd you can make a bitless bridle out of a regular bridle. I have no idea how but its probably somewhere on the internet. But if one that works for your horse and you like how she works in it then go for it. Always put your horse's needs first
I have soft hands and my mare is a spirited arabian. She seems to resent preasure on her nose, so I'm currently using a snaffle on her, which she prefers. It is a mild bit, and I have soft hands, so pain is not a factor.
I really, REALLY dislike dr.cooks. Study the way they work. Would you like your whole head being squeezed whenever the rider asks for a stop? not to mention behind the ears and the boney part of a horses jaw, which preasure is being applied to, is fairly sensitive. Every horse I've tried one on has hated it. I watched a horse at a clinic run around with its head in the air trying to get away from the dr cook.
You'll hear both sides of the argument, but I honestly think what works for your horse is the best opption.
I find it funny when everyone says snaffles are mild, some are the softest bits in the world but some snaffles are just horrible. I currently use a french link copper full cheek on her, I prefer full cheek to loose ring cause there's no pinching and it hold the bit in the correct position.
But thank you for the bitless options!! I read all about the Dr. Cook and fell inlove with it - it sounded so kind and lovely, I tried one on one of the school ponies at a barn I work at, his head was airborn the Whole ride!!! I'll stay away from those, thanks.
But I just ordered an Indian Hackamore noseband (fits on a normal headstall) one without knots in it. It's got a very soft noseband so I don't think it will bother her nose more than a noseband with a martingale for typical riding (not that she's had one of those). But it also sits higher on the boney part of the nose, not the soft breakable part like SO many other hackamores. I also got one that had metal rings where the pulls slide through so there'll be a smoother more immediate 'realease'. I'll give it a shot and let you all know how it works. Anyone else try them and have any experiences with it? Mine will take a while to arrive (had to special order it for her oversized head!)
There's quite a few Bitless Bridles. Horses will tell you what they like and what they do not. Also, take into account the training style an some work better than others depending what your striving for. When in doubt simpler the better. Check out the "Q" Bitless Rope Bridle at ironlesshorse.com
It's a basic sidepull but with cheek bars in a rope halter style. Has an adjustable nose band.
Wow I just read up about that - it's Very interesting!! I really like the design of it as it isn't all about putting pressure on the soft pressure points of their nose, but distributes it better. I will probably stick with the Indian Hackamore I got, she's going very well in it. I put a nose fuzzy on it to make the nose part less tough, and I got the one with metal rings for the reins to go through, rather than rope loops, so the release of pressure is more immediate. I've only had one instance of her disliking it, which was completely my fault, I was ground driving her and tripped and yanked pretty hard on her poor little face, after that she started tossing her head when I asked her to woah I'd get a whole bunch of head tossing. I'm fairly certain I had bruised her poor little nose, so I stopped once I got her standing calmly without tossing - tried it again a few days later and no head tossing. She did great, she's very responsive and quiet in it, doesn't pull for grass either :)
I have tried a number of bitless options with my Arab gelding (now retired). He was gelded at the age of 17 and the vet didn't take his wolf teeth at the time, so a bit always clanked on the teeth. Additionally, he just never could get used to one.
We tried a "mechanical hackamore" (bike chain): Weaver Covered Bike Chain Hackamore It definitely has the potential to be "harsh" so it's important to ride with very soft hands. It seemed to be too much for him even with very minimal rein involvement so we moved on to other things.
I also tried a regular Western bosal. Saddles Tack Horse Supplies - ChickSaddlery.com Royal King Bosal Set with Horse Hair Mecate Reins I had difficulty fitting one and didn't have the money to spend on a good set so I never liked it.
The best thing I found was called an "indian hackamore" on ebay. BITLESS BRIDLE Indian Hackamore Bosal BLACK w/ CHOICE OF NOSE BAND COLOR | eBay I couldn't find the exact one I used but the link I posted gives the general idea. Mine was much softer: no rolled/reinforced noseband: all just soft braided nylon. It worked fantastic and Royale loved it.
The Indian Hackamore I got was made by the same people you linked too, Bitless Bridle Bosal Indian Hackamore w/ Rings *Choice of Noseband Color* | eBay
I put a nose fuzzy on it, so the noseband wouldn't be so harsh. And I got the one I linked too, because it has metal rings to make the 'release of pressure' more clear, compared to the same hackamore with rope loops.
The other two are interesting, the bike chain one is Way too much IMO. The bosal looks nice enough, but I don't generally neck rein. I can and do with horses that do, but I'm more comfortable direct reining, so Bosals are pretty much out of the question.
I started using a Bosal On my Gelding and we both Love it..
Mine is made by Royal King and a raw hide.. I halso have a leather covered rope one but I purfer the rawhide .. there is a dealer on ebay that sells them for about 50% off retail and they are great
I had my trainer work with me to show me how to use correctly
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