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sehrlieb 01-08-2010 06:02 PM

starting a horse bitless?
I have a young arabian gelding (coming 3) who I am preparing to break but I have a bit of a problem (no pun intended :D). For the past 6 months or so he has had small mouth sores, almost like cold sores or a rash, in his mouth on his gums and the bars of his mouth. Hes eats and drinks without issues, but carrying a bit really irritates him. I've been working with my vet but we haven't been able to come up with any solutions or ideas even as to what the problem is exactly. So until his mouth issues are resolved I cant bit him.

He's otherwise ready to be backed. He lunges in tack and long lines in a halter (usually just a wide nylon or leather one which he respects well) and is great about voice commands, responding to pressure, and I have done loads of groundwork with him.

My experience with starting young horses has always been to have them bitted and working well in lines with the bit before backing.

My question is whether I should wait to bit him before progressing with his training, or would something like a sidepull be a good investment/ idea for him. I have limited experience with any sort of bitless bridle and wonder what kind of work I might do with him in one, or for the most part should I treat it the same as if he were bitted?

Any input is greatly appreciated :-)

EveningShadows 01-08-2010 06:55 PM

I personally don't have first hand experience with bitless, but I know numerous people that swear by them. Young old, starting or finished...I think to switch him over, long rein him with it as you would the halter. Once he's got that down and you're confidant he's ready for backing, I see no reason to wait. I've used short shanked hackamores quite a bit and I imagine it's the same idea but instead of a chin chain, it's a leather one. The only thing I could see a youngster getting confused about is that ANY pressure put on the nosepiece would apply some sort of backwards/whoa pressure. You'd have to make your turn signals somewhat exaggerated in order for him to associate it with forward and turning rather than whoa. I could be way off, but that's how my hacks have done. Once they figure it out, you're golden though. I'd say go ahead and see how he takes to a bitless, you seem to understand him well and you're confidant in what he already knows...nice to see you thinking about his mouth instead of getting on and going anyway. Hats off to you!

Marecare 01-08-2010 10:29 PM

It should be easy enough to start him in a bosal or halter and change over to a bit later on.
I really don't use the bit to actually stop the horse and it is there as something to get use to wearing as the horse is taught to respond to the leg cues from the start.

sehrlieb 01-09-2010 07:26 PM

thanks guys :-)

smrobs 01-09-2010 11:17 PM

Yep, if he understands and respects your cues, there will be no difference between starting in the bit or halter.

I hope you are able to find out what is causing the sores, poor guy.

Marrissa 01-10-2010 02:10 AM

I knew a horse who like clockwork would break out in sores on her girth area, mouth, and belly. Summer sores. They'd ride her in a hackamore every summer.

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