Is bitless really better?
I know that there is an unending debate about bits vs. bitless. So many people out there think that so long as a "harsh piece of metal" isn't in their horses's mouth, then they are going to be happy. Sometimes I get tired of hearing that I am cruel and abusive because I ride my horses in a bit and "they would be so much happier in a bitless". My question is, would you rather ride your horse in a bit like this
Or even this
Or would you put them in something like this just for the sake of riding bitless?
Or better yet, a solid steel bosal that has a very real potential to break bones and do permanent nerve damage if used improperly. (though in my mind, there is no "proper" way to use something like this).
But if that's too harsh for you , they always have solid plastic bosals.
Yes there are some bits that are disgustingly harsh but the same can be said for any tack item. Those of you who choose to ride your horse bitless need to look at some of the bitless options out there before you start saying that "bits are cruel" and "bitless is always better". That is not always the case. It is the rider that makes a headstall harsh or soft
We aren't bitless because I think it is harsh or cruel, it is simply my preference at this time with this horse. I have used bits in the past and will in the future if I think it is what is best for the horse and activity at that time.
Darn lack of edit, meant to add - your post seems to be doing exactly what you are trying to illustrate about the bitless camp. You are taking images of the harsher versions of bitless tack and comparing them to the most mild bits. It really doesn't work either way as the comparisons used aren't apples to apples.
I completely agree with you about people who think bits are so harsh and then ride bitless in something that could very possibly be harsher than any bit. Many people who ride bitless seem to be kinda uneducated about the mechanics of the things they put on their horses faces (including bits), which you'd think they should at least know more about bits than "they're evil metal" even if they're going to be staunchly bitless. But there are people who are educated (but generally they have no issues with bits) who ride bitless, so I think it might be a little unfair to lump every person who rides bitless together in the "anti-bit" camp.
I ride Lacey bitless and I like to think that I made the choice in an educated, unbiased manner. It has absolutely nothing to do with my view on bits. I have no issue throwing a bit in her mouth if necessary, I've just discovered that she responds better bitless. She has a better stop, her neckreining is much better and she doesn't get as pissy when I have to get in her face a smidge when she's not listening (but since she does better bitless I usually don't have to get anywhere near her face). She also can jog/trot and canter on a loose rein where she couldn't/wouldn't with a bit (not sure how that works but whatever). Also, Lacey seems to behave better the more I have to trust her and since I'm not completely comfortable bitless yet, I have to trust her a lot and she behaves which is really good for our relationship.
I decided to make the switch when a friend told me that they thought Lacey would be fine bitless and when I started riding her in a halter and discovered that she was really good. I'm scared of those scary looking hackamores so I wanted to find something less scary than that, and something that wouldn't be bad if an uneducated person were to ride in it. I found my "indian hackamore/bosal" on Ebay for $15 which I thought was a pretty good deal for something to try. I wasn't expecting her to like it but she seems to (she'll actually stick her nose into it where she'd never pick up the bit/open her mouth voluntarily for it).
Picture of something like Lacey's shindig-
Here's Lacey wearing it-
I have no issues with bits, I think it depends on the horse. Some horses are just going to go better bitless and others need a bit in their mouths to be optimal.
Sorry if this didn't make any sense...I'm having a rather ADHD morning. haha
Good thread! =)
If I thought it was needed and I could use it correctly then I have no problem with any of the bridles shown in the OP. If I wanted to ride a horse in a traditonal bosal but the horse was running through it I would consider using a metal bosal to give the horse some harsher consequences. I have never seen a bit hanging on a horses head that was cruel to a horse. They only become cruel when human hands contact the reins.
I've ridden horses as a small child while my family had em. Theny they were gone for a long time. I just recently convinced my family to let me get a horse and I've had him for around six weeks or so.
The first day I had him I put a bit in his mouth and he got real nervous and didn't enjoy it. I can't say I would either. So the next time I rode him I just used a halter until I got a rope halter. And I also got a bosal hackmore made of rawhide too. I've been using the rawhide bosal mostly and it seems to work just fine. But I know it can't be comfortable for the horse 100%. Everytime I take it off I check his nose and I can see where the thing was resting. I always give a small rub to help ease/releive any discomfort. I truly wish I wouldn't of wasted money on that thing, but my grandpa would of freaked out if I hadn't bought it. "The same way he does when I tell him I'm keeping my horse barefoot."
My horse just doesn't enjoy having anything in his mouth. And I've read into the reasons why people say bits are bad and I know all my future horses will be bitless. If they can't respond properly in just a rope halter then IMO I need to spend some time training him to teach him how to communicate with me so that I can use only a rope halter.
Also I'm not gonna say bits are worse off for a horse over bitless, cus from those pictures I can say I wouldn't want to use ANY of em. They all look harsh to me. Matter of fact the only reason I bought the rawhide bosal hackmore was to please my grandpa. I'm going back to the rope halter cus I know it's much nicer to the horse, and if I can't communicate to the horse what I'm asking with only a rope halter then I definately need to do some teaching/learning.
I'm not sure if your just asking for opinions or wanting to show that there is also harsh ways to go bitless too. But my personal choice is a rope halter. That is until I learn to ride without any head gear on the horse. That's gonna take some learning on my part. I would like to learn to communicate with a horse in such a way that the entire ride can be natural. Nothing attached to the horse except my hand grasping the mane to hold on.
However, I honestly feel like in the vast majority of cases bits are actually kinder to the horse's face than a mechanical hackamore. I also think that a rider can get more precision with a bit than with a hackamore or bitless bridle, because both of these instruments put pressure on the entirety of the horse's face rather than just the mouth. Plus, since people see them as less cruel/painful/abusive than bits, they're actually more likely to get misused. That's just my opinion based on my own observations though.
i dont think the op posted only the mildest bits; one of the mildest bits is a simple loose ring straight bar, quite chunky- its not there- i think she just posted a selection of mid range bits. a bit is only as cruel as the hands on the reins. i think anything that exerts pressure on a very vulnerable bony area with nerves and veining running down it, could be cruel indeed.
Unfortunately too many beginners think "no bit = very gentle by definition", and then buy those mechanical ones pushing on nose (especially when the horse takes off and they don't know what to do except pushing on reins). And when you try to educate them they get all mad at you (so I'm not even try anymore)...
I started my horses in sidepull. Even the nose pressure was very limited (wide leather noseband - that's it). But even that was enough for my paint to waive her head in air and shake it - she was unhappy. So NO, I don't think personally that bitless is the only way to go. It works great for some people/horses, but not for everyone.
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