Are Bits Abuse? Your Thoughts and Mine - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 44 Old 02-23-2020, 11:49 PM Thread Starter
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Are Bits Abuse? Your Thoughts and Mine

Hello! I just wanted to vent on my opinion on bits. Please feel free to say yours too.

My opinion is that bits are not necessarily abuse. It's not about the equipment, but its use. For example a hoof pick can be used to hit a horse. But used correctly, it's absolutely fine. Same with bits. They're used as a means of communication. Some people say they're abusive because they're in the sensitive part of the mouth, but that can be an advantage when the rider wants to communicate with the horse.

Of course if your horse hates bits or prefers hackamores, then by all means use a hackamore! It's all about your horse's preferences and what works best for the both of you.

I like to ride with my legs and use the reins as reinforcement to prevent hurting the horse's mouth.

Again feel free to express your thoughts as well, I may be replying to them. If I think of anything else I'll add it.

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post #2 of 44 Old 02-23-2020, 11:59 PM
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There are a few bit designs that are inherently abusive but I won't get into that here because it's a bit of a hot-button topic and people have a tendency to get enormously defensive about equipment that they use.

I believe that every person should ride the horse they have in the equipment that best suits that horse, PROVIDED that they understand how the equipment works. And not just how it's marketed to work but how it REALLY works.

MAKORA THOROUGHBRED SPORTHORSES
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post #3 of 44 Old 02-24-2020, 01:06 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blue eyed pony View Post
There are a few bit designs that are inherently abusive but I won't get into that here because it's a bit of a hot-button topic and people have a tendency to get enormously defensive about equipment that they use.

I believe that every person should ride the horse they have in the equipment that best suits that horse, PROVIDED that they understand how the equipment works. And not just how it's marketed to work but how it REALLY works.
I agree.
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post #4 of 44 Old 02-24-2020, 01:48 AM
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I do find the 'argument' "It's not about the equipment, but its use' or 'a bit is only as harsh as the hands that use it' a bit of a... a false premise, to a fair degree. After all, you could say the same about... a bit of wire used as a bit, a chain across the gums... While these things are 'harsher' than many bits, but just like bits, they're a thing designed to cause pain in order to force control. And they too have the capacity to be used 'well' and for 'communication' without pain. So...

Kinda also depends on your interpretation of 'abuse' & how... wide you understand that term to be. I personally think that to use a bit in a situation such as tying the horse up or such is dangerous - there are many instances where bits can cause accidental pain/injury. I also personally think that putting a bit of metal in a horse's mouth for lunging, 'desensitisation' of 'scaries', forcing to load on a trailer, etc, etc are 'abusive', because the likelihood of pain/injury caused is high & the punishment not reasonable. I also think that using a bit on a young, totally uneducated horse, OR by an inexpert rider is 'abusive' because there's a strong likelihood that a lot of unfair punishment will be going on, while the learner learns.

If however, a bit is only used after both the horse & rider have a good understanding with eachother, if the horse understands how to yield to pressure well, if rider has skill and consideration to not use the bit 'strongly' or unnecessarily, with perfect timing & release, then I do believe a bit can be used 'well' and without 'abuse'. Just that they're then not necessary for 'communication'.

After my kids had been riding for years, independent seat, able to use rein aids 'gently' and with great timing, AND their ponies were not just well trained & reliable in a halter, but they had first been desensitised to wearing a bit, then sensitised to yielding softly to it, THEN I put the 2 together, as the kids wanted to go to ponyclub & rules decree horses must be bitted. Don't have a prob really, with that sort of 'ways & means'. But as it's not necessary, they only used bits at pony club, for the year they were members. At home, on trails, at private clubs(Extreme Cowboy Racing was a recent one), they wear halters.

Oh and yes, halters - particularly rope ones - can be just about as 'abusive' as bits, if they're used roughly. I wouldn't tie a horse with a rope halter either. They're just a fair bit less inclined to cause pain, to be 'safer'...
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post #5 of 44 Old 02-24-2020, 04:16 AM
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I see english ridden horses alot around here. I love animals and I understand them. I can clearly see alot of horses don't like a bit, they tolerate it because horses are pushovers. I regularely see riders hurt their horses...

I also think horses have their characters and I know horses that would bust your tail if you rode them bitless... But then again riding horses in itsself is unnatural. We crawl on top of them because we enjoy it. (So that horse that will kick your rear hard when you don't "control" him/her... Erm... well don't breed it or use it because it is not suited for "human use"... to put it cruel.)

We teach them to be ridden and I guess some horses are fine with it, some not... I think you are asking the wrong question... I think (in my humble opinion) everything depends on the horse + person match and the horsemanship of the owner. We own it to horses to try our very best for them...We are the higher species here and it's not because we have the means to own a horse, capture it or keep it for our own fun that we can demand all kinds of stuff. I know lots of people don't have the same philosophy as me, but the way we look at horses is culturally 'learned'. They are not our property, they are animals with their own mind and feelings. We should honor that as we should honor all life, nature and other people. But most people don't think like that. They think in terms of 'how can I use this or that or how can I have fun?' Loose your own agenda and adapt to your animal.

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Last edited by QtrBel; 02-24-2020 at 09:56 AM. Reason: Language and Typing around censors
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post #6 of 44 Old 02-24-2020, 04:22 AM
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[QUOTE=loosie;1970837239].

Kinda also depends on your interpretation of 'abuse' & how... wide you understand that term to be.



Loosie is right. People often do things that they deem to be 'normal' to animals because our culture says it is. Like treating your dog like a kid or a family member. It's a dog. It needs to know it's place in the hierarchy so it feels safe. Like petting a strange dog on it's head. That's dominant threatening behaviour, but people do it all the time. Like people slapping their horse on the neck hard, I think a horse doesn't get this... Like people grabbing their cat to pet it. It's not because an animal is smaller that you should just grab it and use it like a toy... etc...
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The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding go out and meet it. (-Thucydides)
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post #7 of 44 Old 02-24-2020, 05:38 AM
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A bit is a inanimate object...
It only comes to life when handled by a living thing, whether human or in this case placed on a equine by a human.
The base of knowledge of the human, their expertise in using with finesse and gentleness is what translates to soft communication, whisper quiet and gentle or something else...
But the bit is not cruel or hurt on its own...
Some designs are far more aggressive and the unfortunate part of that is they often find use by hands, body and mind that do not fully understand how that design works and that finesse is key to making the working relationship a beauty to watch.
I won't get into actual bit types/classifications...that is a huge white elephant of dialog and bitter arguments so nope, not going their.
A bit though is as kind, soft and giving as is the person who chose it and why...
In the right hands and mind a gift of communication shared..in the wrong hands a cruel and heinous piece to inflict hurt and injuries...we the handler are who make the choice of good or bad when we use any bit.
Any yes indeed, that same thought also applies to anything we use on or with our horses from grooming tools to halters, shanks...just anything and everything...in the hands of a educated equestrian....

...

The worst day is instantly better when shared with my horse.....
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post #8 of 44 Old 02-24-2020, 07:14 AM
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I pretty much agree with @blue eyed pony .

My Pony went through a phase where he didn't want to take the bit. We did some treat training and now he drops whatever he's doing and excitedly walks up whenever he sees that I have his bridle out, picks up the bit himself, and chews it up into his mouth where it belongs. For a couple of pieces of alfalfa pellets. Surely if it was that bad, he wouldn't do it. Whenever I have it and see him, I call it his "instrument of subjugation," as a joke. Interestingly, I never call Teddy's that. But I guess I don't imagine that Teddy has much of a sense of humor.

I think a gentle bit, used with kind hands, isn't abuse, any more than making a horse do anything he doesn't want to do is abuse.

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post #9 of 44 Old 02-24-2020, 09:45 AM
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I, for one, would like to know and understand exactly what subtleties can be communicated with a bit that can not be communicated in some other way.



Kudos on Teddy's training.


No way of knowing, but I wonder what percentage of riders using a bit never ever over use or misuse the bit.


And of course there is the unintended accident where a rein is dropped or a rider comes off and the horse steps on a rein, perhaps at speed.


Recently on a large ride in my area, a somewhat inexperience rider pulled back on the reins when the horse reared a little for a boulder crossing and went over backwards on the horse following. The following rider had to be air lifted out from injuries.


So is it suggested that no one, absolutely no one, should be using a bit unless they and the horse are verifiable talented in soft gentle touch and responsiveness?
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post #10 of 44 Old 02-24-2020, 11:29 AM
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I suppose, if bits were abuse, that my very smart horse Cedar wouldn't be trying to mug me to get his in his mouth whenever he sees his bridle in my hands.

AND.... gasp.... wringing of hands.... it's a CURB bit, too!!!!

AND there's more..... he is actually expected to WORK when he's wearing it.

Oh, that poor abused horse....

This is a picture of Cedar wearing his abusive torture device and being forced to carry me up a mountain. Poor horse!
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