Bitless bridle - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 07-25-2020, 06:07 PM Thread Starter
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Bitless bridle

Hi, my horse had dental surgery and I am not allowed to put a bit in his mouth for a month. I have tried riding him with a bit less robe bridal this last week and found that he seems more relaxed and willing than before. I seem to be able to control him pretty well in the arena. However I am worried that I won’t be able to control him without a bit if he spooks or bolts. I’m also wondering what is the best bitless bridal. Thanks Rod
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post #2 of 31 Old 07-25-2020, 06:24 PM
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I read a study about that (they put several bitless bridles on a foam horse to see how the pressure impacted) and the results were that a bridle where you put the reins underneath the chin (thus with a loop underneath the chin) attached to a rope halter gives the clearest signals to your horse. A bosal wasn't as good as I remember... But not sure... I am sure more experienced riders will be able to answer better
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post #3 of 31 Old 07-25-2020, 06:56 PM
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Training backs whatever headstall that is used. Bits do not control horses; if a horse really wanted to, they can run through many bits and a bitless bridle. If you are that worried, do not ride outside the arena until his mouth is healed.

The "best" bitless bridle depends on the horse, just like there is no "best" bit for all horses. There are normal hackamores and mechanical hackamores. Like with a bit, it is a good idea to try before you buy. Normal hackamore are shankless (like a snaffle). They usually come in three styles: bosal (under the chin), side pull, and cross-under. I generally do not recommend cross-unders. They tend to squeeze the head and give poor release. Mechanical hackamores have shanks (like a curb) or leverage. There are different types of mechanical hackamores. Popular ones include Pinwheels and Little S. The bitless bridle that you use depends on your horse's training and the bit that you use. Mechanical hackamores are not recommended for horses used to snaffle or green horses as direct reining can be more confusing.
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post #4 of 31 Old 07-25-2020, 06:57 PM
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I use a bosal and a bitless rope halter on my filly. She is easy to control with both. Very calm and if you have a problem you can always halt with a one rein stop. I have tried a snaffle bit and she doesn't care for it. Personally I feel the bitless setup is great. I've rode a lot in a snaffle and a leverage snaffle on other horses I've owned and I think I have just as much control bitless as with either of the snaffle configurations. I have my filly neck reining with it and it has been great for training all maneuvers so far.
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post #5 of 31 Old 07-25-2020, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much hobbyh, Jolien and ksbowman. Your comments are very helpful 😀
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post #6 of 31 Old 07-26-2020, 06:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolien View Post
I read a study about that (they put several bitless bridles on a foam horse to see how the pressure impacted) and the results were that a bridle where you put the reins underneath the chin (thus with a loop underneath the chin) attached to a rope halter gives the clearest signals to your horse. A bosal wasn't as good as I remember... But not sure... I am sure more experienced riders will be able to answer better
So... by 'reins attaching under the chin', you mean a hackamore? But with a soft nose piece, not a traditional bosal? I wonder how they decided that one.

Studies done on amount of pressure exerted per square inch or such are one thing, but I don't think that, especially when the study wasn't on real horses, you can decide what's clearest or not. Depends very much on how the horse has been trained, as the biggest factor IMO. For eg a horse who has only been taught with direct rein cues, I would find it hard to accept(or understand why) that rein cues suddenly coming from the same point under their chin would be more clear than a side pull.
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post #7 of 31 Old 07-26-2020, 07:03 AM
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@loosie They tested it for pressure points on foam horses (so the pressure would be clearly visible). Don't know what to think about it. I think it was about neck reined horses and indeed using a halter with a noseband that puts pressure on? Personally I would also just try some and see what works best for my horse. The horse I ride: we use a rope halter with reins attached under the chin. He is neck reined and responds very well (mostly to seat, leg and neck reining. I only use pressure to back up). I rode him with a bit too but he didn't seem to respond as lightly to it... Difficult to describe but I got the feeling things got lost in translation and were less refined... I guess it will depend on the horse. :) As you said.
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post #8 of 31 Old 07-26-2020, 07:32 AM
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Having tried a number of bitless bridles on a couple of my horses, I highly recommend the flower hackamore. It does give a bit of poll leverage, but not like some bridles, and does not have the cross-under action of the Dr. Cook style bridles. Halter/rope halter type bitless bridles don't have enough control since they move around on the face. The flower hackamore has a lot more precision, stays in place very nicely (allowing you to give specific cues) and with my spooky mare Kodak, it gave me the same control as a bit. Rusty also goes better in a flower hackamore than other types I've tried on him.

That being said, spooking and bolting, as well as getting a horse under control, have more to do with training than tack. Was your horse reliable on trails before? If so, I'd try it with the bitless bridle, but start slow, with short outings. If your horse is the spooky type, then that should probably be addressed with training before heading out on the trail - regardless of whether you use a bit or bitless. I speak from experience.
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post #9 of 31 Old 07-26-2020, 08:17 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks Jolien , Loosie and Acadianartist. I appreciate your help so much, Rod
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post #10 of 31 Old 07-26-2020, 08:35 AM
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Hi Rod! Like others have said, I think so much of the selection of a bitless bridle depends on the horse and what he's used to. My mare had some dental issues as well a couple of months ago, and I also avoided riding her in a bit. She typically would ride in a Myler low-ported barrel mouthpiece with D-rings, but easily made the switch over to a sidepull style bitless bridle that is set up almost like a Miklem bridle. This is her new setup and I haven't noticed any difference in how she rides. I like the design because it stabilizing everything on her face and there's no twisting, turning or rubbing even as you use the reins.



All of our riding is out on dirt roads or woods trails, and particularly on the road if I didn't feel that we had excellent communication I couldn't ride her there, since there is definitely a variety of traffic.

This particular bitless bridle (made out of beta biothane) was fairly inexpensive (about $30 on sale) from Two Horse Tack- we'll see how it holds up in the long run, but after using it a couple of months so far so good.

I would also agree with @Acadianartist that the flower hackamore has worked well for another one of my horses. The horse I mentioned above probably wouldn't like it as she can get a little claustrophobic when she feels "trapped," but my older mare did great in the flower hack. She tended to need slightly more brakes than the horse above, and out on the trails I never had any issues with her in the flower.
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