Anyone here use bitless bridles?
I'm not talking about a hackamore.. but like a true bitless bridle.
I rode at a barn while on vacation where they only used bitless bridles (they were a western barn) and it was a pretty cool experience :)
What are the benefits of going bitless?
I'm considering it because Putts is pretty sensetive-mouthed and seems to go better/seem happier in a halter than any bit I've ever tried on him..
Some people like it, some don't.
Remember, horses don't naturally respond to a bit in their mouth, nor pressure on their face, so regardless of which way you choose to ride you have to make sure they are correctly trained in that way. Many people seem to just use bitless bridles without offering some more training and then the ones I have seen do not have very responsive horses at all.
I don't know what a "true" one is, because there are many different types that use different ways of communicating. If it works for your horse use it, but if you're planning on competing be aware that your horse will likely have to wear a bit.
We have used Bitless Bridles on several of our Horses many times, the main reason we did not use them more was the expense and when giving lessons to new riders they needed to learn how to ride with a traditional bit as they are the more prevalent method.
If the one rein e-stop procedure is followed for the occasional problems one may encounter, I see no problems with them.
Benefits would be for a Horse with a soar mouth or a rider with heavy hands that would cause pain with a bit.
I only ride my horse bitless. I was using a bit until she had her teeth floated. She was still sore the day after and I didn't feel right putting a bit in her mouth so I decided to try a bitless halter I had bought for a horse I had been leasing the year before. She responded positively and I have not used a bit since. I trail ride primarily and have never had a problem. I use very light hands and the one time she spooked and tried to bolt, I had her under control before she went more than 4 feet!
I don't know much about bitless. I have heard that some of the bitless bridles are more harsh then a regular old bit. I have heard this about the war bridle style bitless bridles in particular. From what little I understand, and someone correct me if I am wrong, the issue is that they put pressure on top of the nose and under the jaw which can cause more pain than a bit. This may just be in novice hands but thats what I have heard. I have been tempted to go bitless but I keep meaning to investigate the bitless world and then forgetting. :oops:
I used a sidepull halter with mine for about 3 years. I switched to using a bit because I can give them a greater subtlety of cues...for example, to extend their front legs less but not drop down in gait. And my ex-ranch horse just seems more confident that he knows what is expected of him with a bit.
However, I think a sidepull would do fine for many horses in many situations. A few weeks ago I absentmindedly used the reattached the reins to the sidepull halter instead of my mare's bit after passing thru a barbed wire gate, and I didn't notice it until we stopped later on. You can see her wearing both here (the reins are attached to the 2 rings on the sidepull in this picture):
I ride most of mine in only ropehalters, bosals, or just a neckrope. Especially my "reining" gelding Frank, who hates ANY bit we've tried. So I would just play around with what your horse likes. One of my geldings does better with a actual rawhide bosal than with a rope halter, and another one prefers an old tie down headstall with reins attached over a bosal...so I guess you should just play with your horse and see what works! Good luck!
I have a bitless noseband made by Lightrider (a sidepull) and am training my 3 yr old in it. So far he is responding well and I love the idea of bitless training as I don't like any harsh equipment (like choke collars for dogs, etc.) But like most people I learned how to ride with a bit, so I have had to adapt my riding style a little but I have a really good instructor who understands the mechanics behind it and that helps a lot.
I am a novice rider and I rode my Sister-in-law's older mare with a snaffle(which is what she rides her in) and then I rode her with a Dr. Cook Bitless Bridle and she was far more responsive with the bitless. I have a Friesian baby and I am determined to never put a bit in her mouth. This is my very limited experience.I don't know if other horses respond this well to bitless bridles, but they definitely look more comfortable, so I think it's worth the try. If it doesn't work for you, you could resell it on ebay.
I ride my horse bitless only. Sometimes in a rope halter or just a cordeo (trails included), but if we're doing serious training, then a simple sidepull with a soft leather noseband it is. I have no reason to use a bit on him (though I trained him to accept it, just in case he someday needs the skill). He responds very well to bitless training and has been going bitless since he was first backed.
As for the benefits - I used to work at a lesson and trail riding barn with many horses who had problems with novices hanging to their mouths. Some of them started becoming sour, balking, nervous and showed other unwanted behavior. One by one the horses were then switched to rope halters and bitless bridles. Since then all the horses started regaining their calmness and eagerness to work again, so the benefits were just huge! Also, bitless bridles are very comfortable in trail rides (the horse can drink and eat easily) and they benefit to horses who have trouble accepting bit because of health reasons.
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