Bitless bridle? Please help. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 11 Old 11-03-2013, 01:19 PM Thread Starter
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Bitless bridle? Please help.


I have had my mare for a little over 3 weeks. And she HATES the bit, It literally took me over 1 and half hours yesterday to try to get it in her mouth, like I said.. She hates it!! She is really good while riding, and she doesn't spook, buck, rear, dart off, or test me in any way. She is fine with the rest of the bridle, just the bit that she hates. Should I switch to a bitless bridle? I love my Mare very much and I only want her to be happy, and enjoy riding as much as I do.

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post #2 of 11 Old 11-03-2013, 01:20 PM Thread Starter
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And she gets sooo worked up and tense when I try to put in on. Shes turns into a different horse.
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post #3 of 11 Old 11-03-2013, 01:21 PM
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I think you should try to find out why she hates it first. What kind of bit is it? What kind of horse is she? Not all bits work well for all horses.

EDIT: And how are her teeth? have they been done recently? Does she have wolf teeth?
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post #4 of 11 Old 11-03-2013, 01:41 PM
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Yes, to getting her teeth checked out. Another thing to look at is her palette (the roof of her mouth) as some horses have a very low palette and certain types of bits (eg ones with a port in them) are uncomfortable to wear.

What are plans for your mare? If you are into pleasure or trail riding, then you can quite easily look at moving to a bitless bridle of some description. On the other hand, if you are planning to show her there are certain classes where a bit is a must.

If you are not going to show your mare and you say that she quiet, you could probably get by with a direct pull style of bridle. I personally have not tried a lot of the brands along that vein but the one I do like is made by an Australian company (they ship worldwide) - their website is I do mostly trail riding and I use a short shanked mechanical hackamore (on a loose rein) with fleece padded noseband and leather curb strap when I`m out and about - my horses are quite happy with that style.
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post #5 of 11 Old 11-03-2013, 01:53 PM
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barring any physical problems like teeth issues, i would say this mare is testing you and has also figured out in the past what works to get her out of work - if she puts up enough fight about bridling, maybe the human will give up and turn her back out to pasture to do what she truly wants, rest and eat.
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post #6 of 11 Old 11-03-2013, 02:17 PM
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Was she OK when you watched her being tacked up before you bought her?

Are you using the same bit as she had before?

Is it just you who has trouble or can other people bridle her?

How are you bridling her, and what does she do to evade the bit?

Those are my first questions, then I move on to having a dentist check her teeth.
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post #7 of 11 Old 11-03-2013, 02:55 PM
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A whole lot we don't know here.
How old is your mare? Level of training? Your amount of experience. Type of bit you are using?
Some horses have had bad past experiences. I bought one of those. Took time, patience, getting her to relax her neck and lower her head, not bumping her teeth, making sure the bit fit comfortably in her can be a process.

If you ever find yourself in a fair fight, it's because your tactics suck. ~ Marine 1SGT J. Reifinger
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post #8 of 11 Old 11-03-2013, 03:24 PM
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Horse knows if it resists the bit it doesn't have to work. Use a knotted halter and teach her to drop her head, that you let go as soon as she lowers it even a little to start. Work on this for a good half hour or more. Leave the halter and lead on and begin to bridle her. If she throws her head up, bring it down with the halter and stand on the rope. The knotted halter makes them pay more attention that a flat halter.

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post #9 of 11 Old 11-03-2013, 04:45 PM
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What kind of bit are you using? I have a mare that goes well in a snaffle and a three piece bit. Her half brother goes really well in a three piece bit. I tried them both in a Dr. Cooks bitless bridle. The mare was confused because it uses poll pressure instead of mouth pressure. She is confused but we have only used it twice. I am going to keep trying it because I heard it was easier on the horse.

I also thought having tried different bits on the gelding (her half brother) and thought he might like this better because he is a bit of a gold-locks when it comes to his mouth. He lost his cool with the Dr. Cooks. Turned into a bucking monster, got me off and than ran back to the barn and stood there shaking. As soon as, I touched him he went back to Mr. Personality. So, my advice is really really try the bitless bride out on the ground before you climb on board.

For the OP, if the horses teeth are in good condition, you are using a mild bit (a snaffle or french link) and the horse is well trained I would look into side pulls or hackamores. Then try it extensively on the ground and when you climb on board be in an enclosed area where your horse can't hurt itself if you come off.
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post #10 of 11 Old 11-03-2013, 08:30 PM
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Originally Posted by rookie View Post
I tried them both in a Dr. Cooks bitless bridle. The mare was confused because it uses poll pressure instead of mouth
Agree with all of the above & I suspect there's more to it. But horses can indeed just 'hate the bit' without physical problems, due to prior or current handling/training with it. And it is generally easier to hurt a horse with a bit than with a halter(that doesn't apply to all bitless, such as mechanical ones), so I start all my horses - and novice riders - in a halter, and 'retrain' horses in a halter, not moving/returning to a bit until they're yielding very well in a halter.

Oh yeah, I quoted the above from Rookie because this is also relevant - horses don't generalise that well, so if bridle cues feel different, they need to be *taught*, not just assumed It Is Known. Different bitless bridles feel different too. I always give the horse an on ground 'refresher' lesson or few before getting onto their back in different equipment, and would start riding in a controlled environment, so you can *ask* the horse to respond to it without having to *need* them to instantly.
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