trail riding with no bit? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 51 Old 02-13-2013, 11:13 PM
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My (very experienced) friend often does. She has a bridle with a bit that is removable to convert to a halter (can't name it or describe better). On familiar/easy trails she'll often ride bitless, but can pop the bit on easily if the terrain gets difficult or her horse gets antsy.
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post #12 of 51 Old 02-14-2013, 01:54 AM
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I have had (and have now) horses only ridden wearing a mechanical hackamore. I prefer the short shank variety. I have a soft touch but have seen pretty unhappy horses if the rider is heavy handed.
A couple of years ago my husband had an aged Appy gelding. We started with a bit, went to a hack and ended up with a side-pull. He was so happy with that!
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post #13 of 51 Old 02-14-2013, 01:13 PM
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I trail ride my horse in a dr cook bitless bridle. My horse is one of those who tends to test his rider and he has a lot of he can be a huge handful sometimes. The amount of control I have with the bitless bridle is just as good as I do with a bit. I decided to try a bitless bridle with him because he tends to fuss around with the bit (tossing his head, turning his head sideways, and just trying to move the bit around his mouth), especially when he gets really worked up.

I had known my horse for several years and we had good communication and respect for each other before I decided to try a bitless bridle on him. And then I spent a lot of arena time in the bitless bridle before going out on trails. When I started him on trails in it, I still carried around his regular bridle for a while but found I never needed it so I stopped carrying it around. I'm really happy with how well he does in it.

But I've had other horses that I tried the bitless bridle on but they didn't like it and would rather stick to the bit. So while I'm pleased with my bitless bridle, I wouldn't recommend using it on a horse you don't know well or if you don't have a trainer around for guidance.
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post #14 of 51 Old 02-14-2013, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
My (very experienced) friend often does. She has a bridle with a bit that is removable to convert to a halter (can't name it or describe better). On familiar/easy trails she'll often ride bitless, but can pop the bit on easily if the terrain gets difficult or her horse gets antsy.
That sounds like a halter bridle. Very popular with endurance riders. I believe they were "invented"/designed first in Australia.
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post #15 of 51 Old 02-15-2013, 01:58 AM
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I've had my mare since she was 3yrs. with 30 days of riding on her. I rode her for the first 3yrs. with a rope halter/bareback pad trail riding. She responds great with the halter but I got a biteless bridle I have used on her for about 2yrs. now and I've never had a problem with no control of her. I also started using a saddle about 4 or 5 yrs. ago now LOL funny thing was I rode with the bareback pad and never once fell off and last year I fell off twice with a saddle!
I did alot of work with her in the round pen when I first got her, making sure I had that WHOA, she's never bolted on me but she used to quite frequently spin on me when something scared her, that hardly happens now though.......I have never ridden a horse with a bite.....

My horses are the joy in my life.....
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post #16 of 51 Old 02-15-2013, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by HagonNag View Post
I've had no issues with her as long as we go out with other horses.. She stops like a champ on a verbal whoa and is really sensitive to leg pressure. Would I be nuts to try this???

Do you have a friend or two who would be willing to go along with you, knowing its a test situation? If so, sounds like the perfect thing to try.

Personally, our horses go in s-hacks on trail, but I have known horses I wouldn't have ridden that way if my life depended on it! So much just depends on the individual horse and the rider holding the reins.

I also know people who start their rides with bits, then take them off later as the horse settles down. This guy started off in a kimberwicke, then we were able to remove the bit totally.

There is no joy equal to that found on the back of a horse.
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post #17 of 51 Old 02-15-2013, 12:38 PM
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Agree it depends on the horse really and what form of bitless you go for
We use Dr Cook bridles with no trouble but our current horses though forward going arent at all spooky and know the meaning of whoa
We did have a very forward going OTTB that had no brakes whatsoever in any bit but was easily stopped in an English hackamore for general riding and a German Hackamore when he was jumped and you needed a bit more finesse.
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post #18 of 51 Old 02-15-2013, 05:58 PM
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I ride my mare (4YO TB) on the trail in a rope indian hackamore. Mild, she likes it okay. Hoping to get a little-S soon.

She had a MAJOR freak out on the trail a couple weeks ago. I mean MAJOR. Out of her mind, shaking, afraid for her life. (Stupid ^$%@#*& cows!)

And even with just that little piece of rope across her nose, I was able to keep her from killing us.

Point being, if a horse isn't going to listen to you, it doesn't matter what is on their face or in their mouth. They will ignore you if they want. Lucky for me, my honest little mare was listening to me. (Though the ride still didn't end well; I made the mistake of getting off. She doesn't listen as well on the ground! )

If your horse goes well bitless, try it on the trail. If they do better in a bit, use that. What matters is that the horse is paying attention to you.


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Last edited by Sunny; 02-15-2013 at 06:02 PM.
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post #19 of 51 Old 02-15-2013, 10:07 PM
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I've had good success using mechanical hackamores on my horses for trail riding. The ones I use are short shanked with a fleece covered leather nose band and leather curb strap (not the chain one it comes with). That style has good stopping power should you ever need it but not the face breaking action of those hackamores with the long shanks and narrow nosebands. I ride with a long or loose rein, I use a give and take action for direction (rather than steady pressure) and the horses go very happily in them.

There's a style I've been considering as I've got one mare that is particularly responsive (this one is also more comfortable without a bit as she has a low palate). It's designed by a lady in Australia and it's a direct pull type. I believe it's called a "Lightrider" bridle - she has a website and you can order there. You might want to check that out.
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post #20 of 51 Old 02-16-2013, 08:13 AM
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For our ongoing trip, boyfriend and I both ride in a rope 'hackamore' - a rope halter with chin loops for a mecate rein. His horse : headstrong and stubborn but unflappable. Mine : inexperienced and can be spooky, tendency to see monsters. We worked on the ground and in the corral first, but not a huge amount.
Around 1000km so far, and no probs. I say go for it.
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