What does a bitless bridle do, compared to an average bridle?
Just something I was curious about, what do people use bitless bridles for? Why wouldn't they use a halter? Can you use them in shows?
There are many different types of bitless bridles - sidepulls, mechanical hackamores, crossunder bitless bridles, bosals and all the deviations of these types... All work and can be used differently, just as different types of bits function differently. For example, I use a Little S hackamore, because my horse in particular enjoys and responds well to poll pressure, and I like the more precise feel that a hackamore gives me comparing to just a halter.
What types of showing are you interested in - Western, English?..
I'm interested in either! Im an english rider, but Im curious about both :)
bitless bridles use pressure points on the head for control, bitted bridles use pressure in the mouth (and sometimes the poll).
I changed from bitted to bitless bridle years ago because my horse had to have oral surgery and I wasn't allowed to use a bit for 6-9 months. I started riding her in a halter after her operation and she went really well. However, I only rode her on the property because I wasn't sure of the legal and safety implications of riding a horse in a halter on the road.
So I tried out a cross-under bridle, and have never used a bit since on any of my horses. That's not to say that I wouldn't revert to a bitted bridle if I had a horse that worked better for me in one, but for now, we're good!
I decided to try 'bitless' on my horse after I jumped on bareback one day with just a halter and lead. He responded amazingly to my one rein stops, which he had almost always ignored when bitted.
The next day I attached the reins to his halter, and he is a different horse. In the past he was a school horse and I wouldn't be surprised if he has a bad mouth as a result, especially since he tends to gape to avoid bit contact. With the halter, he turns on a dime, stops on command, backs up (which he does very reluctantly when bitted), and really pays attention. I rode him in a bit again the other day, and it was a fight the entire time.
Whilst I could continue riding in his halter, I am going to invest in a rope riding halter A) because I can B) because his halter isn't exactly high quality, and the thought of it breaking during a ride is worrying and C) because the reins sit really oddly. Plus, it's annoying to have to attach the reins for every ride. I'll also get the added benefit of pressure points from the knots, just to give a little extra control.
Tracer, a rope halter is fine if you can find one of the older styles with no knots. The knots can cause facial nerve damage. I'm sure you've noticed there's not big layer of fat there. Hamilton makes a double thick soft feel nylon halter with an adjustable noseband which prevents the noseband from crawling up the horse's face. Other's make the adjustable but none felt as nice as the Hamilton.
I started my little boy in a basic side-pull because it was just simpler than introducing the bit at the time. After a lot of halter work and side-pull work, we moved to bit, and IMO, it was easier to transition because he already knew everything, and just needed to translate to the bit.
I use a Nurtural Bitless Bridle with my Walking horse because that one in particular uses chin and poll pressure which more resembles the pressure of a shanked bit, and helps him tuck a bit more than the side pull. I ride him bareback with it all the time- we do all the same things we can do with a bit :)
A bosal is allowed in western shows for a horse 5 and under after that they have to be bridled. In English, as far as I know, for flat classes & hunter, no bitless bridles, as for jumpers, I haven't checked the rules but I will & get back. This would be for Equine Canada sanctioned competitions. The reason bitless bridles are not permitted in English is because a horse must be on bit and collected, something not achieved bitless.
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Thanks for all the responses! :-)
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