My horse has always had 'bit issues' which she has not been able to get over despite years of patient training in both gentle snaffles, double jointed bits and a sweet iron snaffle. Of the different kinds, she seemed to prefer the sweet iron. She always chews at the bit and has to be bribed to let us put her bridle on. I suspect that whoever mouthed her must have done something nasty at some stage. No problems have been identified with her teeth or mouth.
I was hoping to start her in some kind of bitless bridle as I suspect she'll be happier - anybody out there who uses one they can recommend?
I do a lot of pleasure riding but also do a small amount of jumping and dressage at times.
I have not done any jumping in it, but I've used a sidepull on trails. It's nice for just going on a leisurely ride and letting my horse have a snack now and then. (He likes to have snacks.) If you wanted to try out a sidepull without a big investment, try this one from horse.com: NYLON SIDEPULL BROWN - Horse.com (You might also need to get reins to go with it.)
Cool! What's the control like with this sidepull? I've never seen one like this used.
I don't like the bitless bridles. (I've never seen one like the one Rebecca posted) but I borrowed one that my barn owner had and there are WAY too many pressure points. god bless my horse for being so tolerant with me.. I KNOW she didn't like it! It's just that she couldn't figure out what was going on! being pulled at from every which way. -- (I usually ride her in a halter and lead rope on the property. Only use a bit when we're trail riding.)
I use it for trail rides (just walking and being relaxed) where I don't really need the control of a bit, and once or twice when I was giving pony rides to a friend's two kids and didn't want them to be able to pull on my horse's mouth. I've not used it for working in the arena.
My sense is that it with the majority of horses it doesn't give as much control as a standard bridle with a bit. (I say "the majority" because I know there are top-level competitors who ride and compete bitless and have just as much control as they would with a bit. But I don't think that's the norm.) However, if you make sure that your horse knows that just because she's not wearing a bit doesn't mean that she gets to ignore you and misbehave, I think it might be a nice workable alternative.
Also, you will need to give you and your horse some time to get used to the different setup. With the sidepull, you get pressure on the bridge of the nose when you pull back with both hands. (It is therefore important to make sure that the sidepull is adjusted correctly, so you are putting the pressure on the bone and not the soft tissue part of your mare's nose.) It's different than how it feels to the horse when you pull back with both hands using a bit. At first she might think "what's this pressure on my nose?!" but I think if she hates (fears, even) bits as much as you describe, she will quickly learn to work with the nose pressure instead.
Here's a good overview article about sidepulls:
Side Pull Bridles - What is a Side Pull
ETA: If you want to try the sidepull concept, you can do it on the super-cheap by hooking lead ropes to either side of a good-fitting halter.
Side Pull Attachment
I've been looking at something like this. It's just an attachment. My mare noms on the bit too, even a simple snaffle. And I really like my bridle. Her previous owner gave me a simple rope halter/bridle that she used on her, but it's loose and I don't feel like I have much control over her.
Plus it's brown. I need more colour in my life. :-P
I lover hacamores but...some horses need more force but my horse snickers does great in a hacamore and my best friends horse....they tried him in a hacamore and he does absolutely fabulous! Some horses are just very responsive so I believe you don't have to use anything if you realy don't have to....
Now i'm just wondering how to try some out... I don't really want to buy one only to find that my horse doesn't like it! Maybe some saddleries will let me try the out first before buying?
Clip some reins or lead ropes to the sides of a regular ol' halter and try that. It's a close-enough approximation for you to get at least a general idea.
Side pulls function like a bit but without the bit....poll flexion is minimal
Hackamores also create minimal poll flexion
The majority of bitless bridles with the cross under the jaw reins do create head pressures which are not released.
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