I ride my horse in an eggbutt snaffle, and he goes in it fine most of the time, but sometimes I ride him bareback with a halter and he actually does better in the halter. Before I got him he was a lesson horse so I have a feeling he developed the habit of bracing against your hands/the bit; he still does this but I have been able to soften his mouth some. But with no bit he doesn't do any of that, and his stops and back up are better. Would a bitless bridle be something to consider? I don't really understand how they work, or if they're even acceptable in the hunter ring.
A little information about bitless bridles. There are all kinds, from hackamores to side pulls to specialty contraptions. The idea of a bitless bridle is to transfer the pressure from the rider's rein aids to the bridge of the horse's nose with varying degrees of magnitude provided by the leverage options. Bitless bridles can be good in some circumstances where a horse's mouth has been injured or they are dead in the mouth. (possibly like your horse) I have to caution you though, that the bridge of the nose is much more sensitive than the horse's mouth and easier to damage. I'd love to know the mouthpiece of your current bit, maybe you could try something different? If you do decide to use a bitless bridle I'd suggest doing that for a month or so and then going back to a normal bridle and seeing how your horse goes.
Bitless bridles are not acceptable in the hunter ring, just FYI.
It's a single jointed mouthpiece.
I wouldn't have thought they were acceptable English bridles. I probably won't use one, but might try one out sometime. Just thought it was neat that instead of completely ignoring me with a halter, he actually responds very well :)
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You could always try something like a French Link of double jointed mouthpiece just to give him a little variety. It's really funny how horses like and don't like certain things. I'd play around with a bitless bridle a bit, but also switch up the bits. Since it sounds like he's an ex school horse I suspect he could be getting a little bored. Variety can't hurt anything.
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