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Hoofprints in the Sand 01-17-2009 08:22 AM

Bitless bridle -- good or bad?
Hi everyone! So I had this in another thread (under tack & equipment), but thought I would try it here as well and see what answers/experiences I get!

I've been thinking about trying the Dr. Cook's Bitless Bridle and asking around about it. But no one I know uses some of you already know, I have a new horse (just got her 9 weeks ago), a 7-yr old green broke buckskin Paint mare. She's VERY sweet and laid back, but lately she's taken to spooking at random things (all visual, loud noises don't bother her at all)...and she'll bolt when she does it!

She even threw me off one day -- she's got me so scared/nervous that now when I ride her my heart races and I know that just makes her more nervous and spooky!! I read on Dr Cook's site that the bitless bridle can help with spooking, since bits cause a certain amount of discomfort/pain for some horses, which just freaks the horse out more. But of course the skeptic in me is just thinking " yeah well he could have just made that up to sell product, how can he prove that really?"

I'd like to give it a try, she chomps on the bit constantly and all I have in her mouth is an eggbutt snaffle, and I'm very soft in my hands as well. But it's almost like she's so preoccupied with the bit that she stops paying attention to me sometimes. I want to try the bitless but am scared that if she decides to spook/bolt she's going to run like mad and I won't have any control without the bit in her mouth...has anyone had a spooky horse who was helped by a bitless??

Spastic_Dove 01-17-2009 04:55 PM

I would try one, but I wouldn't count on it to stop her from spooking but thats just me. You'll be able to control her from what I know. It's not like riding in a halter, but puts pressure on certain parts of the horse to give the commands so you will have to retrain her at first since it is different from a snaffle.

PoptartShop 01-17-2009 05:13 PM

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Before you try it, maybe try riding her in a halter with reins first, or rope? Even though a bitless is not like that. I don't think a bitless bridle would make her stop spooking at those things; I think she needs help getting used to those things that are making her spook. ;) Do you have a trainer that can help you?

Janasse 01-17-2009 06:12 PM

I ride my mare in one and LOVE it. If the issue is her spooking, I doubt the bridle will really affect this. That's more of a confidence issue. I am always in favor of riding bitless as I don't know why it's been put in everyone's head that you have to have a piece of metal in your horse's mouth to ride it. I think if you can't ride your horse bitless than you shouldn't ride at all (just my opinion and there are some cercumstances where this does not apply). Dr. Cook has a 30 day trial period so get one and if you don't like it send it back.

Picture Perfect 01-17-2009 10:57 PM

Maybe have someone on the ground lounge her and ride her in the bitless bride. In case she spooks, you wont have to worry about control. :D

Cat 01-17-2009 11:29 PM

It depends on the horse. Some do well in them and some don't. There are also cheaper bit-less options that I feel actually provide better control and these includ the bosal (need to know how to use it) or little S hackmore.

mayfieldk 01-17-2009 11:56 PM

I really feel that bitless bridles are where people with bad hands are hiding. If you can't ride your horse in the bit, then there is a problem and it's probably not the horse's.

Kentucky 01-18-2009 02:38 AM

I ride with a side pull forr that reason, but my hands are not there yet but are getting better in fact the last several ride I have had were with a snaffle bit and the horse was fine, three out of the four were. The fourth was a little nervous after I got off.

I ride with a side pull becuase of my heavy hands and I am working on it.

Hoofprints in the Sand 01-18-2009 09:08 AM


Originally Posted by mayfieldk (Post 232566)
I really feel that bitless bridles are where people with bad hands are hiding. If you can't ride your horse in the bit, then there is a problem and it's probably not the horse's.

I agree with you in SOME cases, but from what I've heard and read, it seems that some horses just don't do as well in a bit and do wonderfully with a bitless...but it all depends on the horse really. Not all of them like a bitless, some HATE the pressure from what I've heard. Personally, I'm VERY light in my hands (I've been working with a great trainer every week for 2 1/2 years straight now and I get that feedback from him all the time), but I just thought I would try since she's constantly chomping the bit (EVEN on loose reins) and not paying quite enough attention to what I'm asking her (and my trainer gets on and has the same experiences with her, so I know it's not just me).

But I think you're right for some people, some are just heavy handed and their horses would probably be fine with a bit and a lighter handed rider. I believe it's just all on a case by case basis. I just wanted to get some ouside additional opinions about those who have tried the bitless...have you ever given it a try? What was your experience with it?

mayfieldk 01-18-2009 05:49 PM

Horse's aren't born accepting a piece of metal lying on their gums. I think what some people forget and misunderstand is that you have to TEACH them to accept it. And if they are chomping on it, then you can switch bits/figure out a reason why--getting rid of the bit altogether seems like avoiding the problem, now doesn't it?

I have, however, ridden in rope hackamores because I think they show you where your horse needs more work. In competent hands, bitless bridles and hackmores are great training tools to see where the 'holes' are in your training. But when it comes to precise aids, I think the bitless bridle falls quite flat.

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