I am not a big fail of a bit less bridle. They have their place on a very well trained horse who you might want to just go out and ride on trails or something like that. Or for someone how is heavy handed and just dose not seem to get it.
As for instant collection. Collection does not come from the bit or lack their of. It comes from the rear. So changing what you put on your horses head will not change that.
Depending on the design it might be OK. I normally ride my mare using a rope halter with rings in the lower side...kind of a sidepull halter. Works fine for putzing around, but it has nothing to do that I can tell with collecting a horse. My mare likes it, my gelding does not.
What kind was it? Was it more similar to a rope halter like posted above or was it more like an "Indian Hackamore" that some people sell?
Or was it something like this
I believe that bitless has it's place. I ride bitless when I just want to piddle around and some horses, like Wallaby's Lacey, have mouth issues that make using a bit uncomfortable for them. She really likes her Indian Hackamore.
I agree with the others though, instant collection just from changing to a bitless is pretty far-fetched. Sounds more like an exaggerated sales pitch to me.
I think they have their place for some horses.
I think you are doing the right thing by trying your friend's first. Make sure you ride in a safe place the first few times, though!
I knew someone who tried a leather bitless bridle on their horse for the first time on a trail ride, and it went very poorly. Horse didn't listen to a thing his rider wanted, was running off the trail, running into other horses. It was a mess!
My experiences riding bitless have been awesome! My mare was trained in Dressage for 6 years and the rider had hard hands. So when a put a simple snaffle in her mouth she throws her head up and chews. I switched to just a simple nylon halter and lead rope a couple months ago and she is listening to my commands and stopping easier. I guess it just depends on the horse. :)
I like riding without a bridle quite often, but I've never actually used a bitless bridle. I prefer to just have a halter I my horses especially because it just drives me crazy to no end when people are tugging my my poor ponies' faces.
But as many others have said, they have their place. And nothing can instantly fix an animal without putting it in some sort of forced position. (This wouldn't be a "quick fix" nessisarily because it's not forcing the animal into collection.) So obviously that was a faulty claim. It's just good training that makes animals the way they are. (And I'm pretty much saying that nothing is "quick" or "instant" in training unless it is inhumane or forceful to the animal, in my view. A good trainer wouldn't need quick fixes.)
But I do like the idea of a bitless bridle, but sometimes it just takes the right horse. My (greenbroke) gelding does better with just a rope halter and reins than a bridle. (Especially since he likes to chew on the bit, the little bugger. X3)