Going Bitless - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 40 Old 02-04-2015, 11:44 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Florida
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Going Bitless

I am a new horse owner and my horse came with all his tack he kept chomping on his bit and I had the dentist come out and float his teeth. He still chomped all the time! I had a trainer come out and he just took off the bit and I used a lead rope as reins and his halter. He does completely fine with this. In fact he is much better behaved since we removed it. Is this approach used often? If not, why? My horse really acts so much better without it.
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post #2 of 40 Old 02-04-2015, 11:45 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Kansas, USA
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How do you know he does fine? There's no bit to chomp on.

Perhaps try a different bit than what you are using?
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post #3 of 40 Old 02-05-2015, 12:10 AM
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: New Zealand
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If your horse goes well bitless then there is no reason not to ride this way - I for one would prefer my horses not to have a piece of metal in their mouths if its not necessary.
Both my horses are now always ridden in bitless bridles and I have never had an issue with feeling that I have less control without a bit. There are a lot of different bitless bridles out there that apply pressure in different ways so maybe do some reading online about them. My horses both have lightrider natural rope bridles and I love them - works as a halter and bridle so can catch them and ride with one piece of equipment.
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post #4 of 40 Old 02-05-2015, 01:02 AM
Green Broke
Join Date: Oct 2012
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If you are pleasure and trail riding I'd use what works for both of you. As long as you have control and your horse responds to your cues, what the heck.
The guy in my avatar was a bit rattler. We went to a short shanked mechanical hackamore and he does just fine. We had an Appy gelding who was very happy with a side-pull.
Kiwi is correct in that there are a lot of bitless options to consider. I prefer to keep it as simple as possible.
Happy trails to you.
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post #5 of 40 Old 02-05-2015, 09:21 AM
Join Date: Mar 2014
Location: Virginia
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The devise or bit used is really less important than how you use it. The goal is to teach the horse to
to respond to a light signal and not about responding to pain. My personal horses are ridden in a hackamore “bosal” for a year or more of training and then to a two rein process, but most client horses are started in a snaffle bit. This is however dependent on the clients end use of the horse.

Whatever device you use you will still need to prepare the horse to respond to the signal whether it be a bit or bitless devise.

I start all colts under saddle using a rope halter tied into a hackamore for the first week or so of riding. If they will be ridden with a bit by my customer they will carry a snaffle bit under the halter with no reins. This gives the horse time to learn how to carry the bit and hold it in their mouth. This also eliminates any jerking on their mouth if things get western during the first rides. During this time I will teach them to give laterally to the bit pressure from the ground so once I am ready to ride with the bit they have an understanding of how to release from the bits signal. After they are confident carrying me at walk trot and canter, can make some turns & backup I will start riding with the snaffle.

Your horse most likely just needs some fundamental training with the bit with experienced light hands behind the reins. There is also nothing wrong with riding bitless but either way you need to understand how the devise you are using works so you can communicate with the horse.

Best of luck
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post #6 of 40 Old 02-05-2015, 05:23 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: I'm an American girl living in southwest France
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My horse has always been bitless, before I got her and still today. She's very, very responsive in it and we love it. Your horse will tell you what they prefer. If you can manage the horse, and the horse responds, go bitless! Unless you're planning to compete in a sport that requires bits, you should be fine. BTW, I highly recommend the Nurtural Bitless bridle. It's the one my horse does best in. She's not a fan of the knotted halters; she always tosses her head around when she has one of those on.
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post #7 of 40 Old 02-05-2015, 05:39 PM
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I think it's not used as often, because it's not always aligned with equestrian goals.

My mare is, has always been, and will always be: bitless. I dislike them immensely. I feel the same about mechanical hackamores. But because of this dynamic, I could never compete in certain disciplines, no matter how much I might ardently desire to.

Also, you need to know your horse, and your horse know you. Some bits can be very subtle. Using a mechanical hackamore correctly can be equally subtle. Not all bitless options are nearly as subtle (some are). And in that way, you and your horse need know each other, so that you may still function with subtlety. Seat, legs, voice, etc.

I show respect to my mare, by using minimal tools. But I show that respect, because our union has earned that type of respect. I cannot say that I would just hop on a random horse bitless, and feel nearly as confident.

It's like knowing you can be bareback, and not have your horse bolt or fuss with you. I happily ride bareback, but again: you won't see me jumping onto and unknown horse without the small security of a saddle.
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post #8 of 40 Old 02-05-2015, 06:06 PM
Green Broke
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: New South Wales, Australia
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Going bitless is a popular choice, although you may be better off looking for a more precise bitless type bridle rather than just using the halter.

However, often we can't own horses for their whole lives. Some people can and that's great, but for the majority that isn't usually an option. I personally feel that we have a responsibility to each horse we own to not only ensure it lives a fair and kind life, but to try to do what we can to make sure the horse has it's best chance once it moves onto a new home, and homes after that.

Having a horse that cannot be ridden in a bit can severely impact its future. Generally horses are ridden with bits, to compete they must have bits and if someone gets on a horse to try it out they will expect it to have a bit. A horse that does not respond well to a bit can find itself with increasingly heavy handed riders, and being forced into equipment and gear that can cause them discomfort.

If you can get him going okay in a bit, and ride him both bitless and with a bit it's probably beneficial in the long term.

Horses can fussy about bits, sometimes trying a few will let you find one he doesn't mind.
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post #9 of 40 Old 02-06-2015, 12:25 PM Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Florida
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Thank you everyone for your input! I get some great information on this site!

Roman ~ I know he's ok without the bit because he responds to my cues and does all I ask him to do for me with no issue. No sense giving pain/pressure when it isn't necessary. Right?

Saskia ~ Fortunately I will most likely own Scooter his whole life (he is like a loved family member at this point) I am a pleasure rider. I don't compete or do shows. I just ride trails and have fun.
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post #10 of 40 Old 02-06-2015, 01:09 PM
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Southern IN
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Every horse on our place can be ridden in a halter with nothing more than a lead rope, I would be willing to say that MOST, BROKE, horses will.

Personally, I ride in a bit, because it makes ME feel better, If I need the leverage of a bit i have it, I don't have to be in my horses mouth to get the response i want, but it is there if things start to come unwound......

Many folks ride bitless, it is a current "trend" along with going barefoot, and a few other things. More often than not I find that it makes the human feel better than it really matters to the horse.....
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