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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I know this might be a touchy one to go on, but I myself prefer riding a horse without a bit. Not saying I won't ride a horse with a bit in but my horse responds much better without a bit and is clearly much happier. I will go as far as to say bits are cruel for horses because they are. HOWEVER, I do still think less contact on a stronger bit rather than permanently pulling a horse on a short bit or bit less is better. My view is that horses shouldn't have metal is their moths and unless they have been made numb to the head collar, all horses are better off without a bit. I say this having ridden my horse for almost 2 years struggling for an outline and as soon as we go bitless she works much happier and easiest. Being part Arab she will always struggle with a lot of more back end powered moves, yet it even helps with them too.

Just thought I'd also say those who ride on the bit, the bone on the bottom jaw is sharp and can cut flesh. When you pull that bit it pushes the gums into that very sharp bone, no matter the type of bit. Furthermore, those who ride in double jointed bits, when you pull that bit the joint jabs the top of the jaw, usually causing them to open their moths or put their tongue over the bit too soften the blow. In response we put a flash on, closing their moths meaning they cannot avoid the pain. Out of all the bits the rubber straight bar snaffle is what I'd say it's the softest.

I myself have done all these things with my horse before looking into it, watching youtube videos and learning a lot about it. I was able to borrow a bitless bridle which puts pressure on the poll and nose. I succeed a lot more in a bitless bridle and I feel all houses would given the chance with someone that knows what they're doing and makes them respond. I wont go as far too say that those who ride in bits shouldn't ride because that's not true. I think anyone who labels themselves a horseman or woman shouldn't rely on pain and bits to control their horses.

Of cause there are exceptions for everything I say so I'm not meaning to attack people, just expressing how I feel. Again, another thing with horses when used properly, it can bring out a fantastic result but the same can be achieved without a painful bit.
 

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Your beating a dead horse here. We had a topic EXACTLY like this one a week ago, got pretty heated too... grab yourself some popcorn and read up. Of you do a search you'll find dozens, if not a hundred, threads about this topic.

And any device is only as cruel as you make it. I've seen horses rubbed raw from bit less bridles and mouths with sores. It doesn't matter what it is... There's always going to be a donkeys rear out there abusing it!!
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Also, my horse can be ridden in anything from a hay string to a medium port with a 7" shank. Typically I ride her in a light dog bone with a 3" shank or her rope halter. So no, I certainly don't use pain to control my horse.
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If the bit is painful, the rider is wrong. But frankly, some of what you have heard is wrong.

The jawbone doesn't cut thru flesh. If it did, lots of horses would have bloody mouths. They also would be terrified of bits, and a great many are not even a little afraid of bits.

"those who ride in double jointed bits, when you pull that bit the joint jabs the top of the jaw"

You are the first person I've ever seen who claims a double jointed bit will poke the roof of the mouth. That claim is usually made about single jointed bits, and is largely incorrect. Studies done with X-rays so we can SEE what actually happens show the single jointed snaffle will sink more into the tongue that it goes up to the roof, so there is normally no contact. There could be exceptions of course, but the common claim that a single jointed snaffle pokes the roof of the mouth is largely wrong. A double jointed bit will put more pressure on the tongue, but many horses prefer them.

If you take my mare out on a trail with a bitless bridle, she may be fine. Or she may run off with you...and if she does, you won't stand a chance of stopping her. People didn't invent bits for the fun of putting metal in a horse's mouth. They simply work better than NOT doing it, for the large majority of horses and riders.

You spent 2 years trying to put your horse in "an outline", which is certainly worse than riding her in a bit. Maybe you should have tried some time like this - and notice the evil curb bit, cruel, cruel!:



But somehow, I doubt I'll change your mind...:?

Mia at the end of another painful ride, the bit cutting into her flesh:



Previous thread:

http://www.horseforum.com/horse-tack-equipment/bits-painful-343425/

And BTW - YouTube videos may not be the most reliable source of information.
 

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Well, I ride my reining horse in a BIG SCARY CATHEDRAL PORT BIT WITH ROLLERS.
And, I never have to touch his face. If you show horses, you can't go bitless (most shows/classes that is, until you get into speed/sorting/jumping). The horses are trained to be SOFT so that way you aren't pulling on their faces..my horse is perfectly happy with me just not touching his reins/face at all because, I don't need to.

I have never had a horse have a bloody or even lightly bruised mouth unless they accidentally bit their tongue or something.

My barrel horses ride in 3 piece bits or what i would consider I double jointed bit, and they don't come any where close to anything you said. Even single jointed bits, like snaffles, don't do that, because their is a horse in the way, pull on both sides and it puts even pressure on the tongue, no pinching or poking.

All of my horses could be trail ridden with a rope halter if I wanted to. You can't SHOW like that though.
 

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I mean, are you gonna tell me this horses bit is causing it's pain? Well trained horses with well trained riders don't have to rely on the bit hardly at all. It's a refinement of a cue, just like spurs; used improperly they can be painful, but properly used they do no harm.

http://www.localhorse.com/photos/20360_135485D9.jpg
 

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My horse has never shoved his tongue over his double jointed bit. He's not a stupid animal. If he's in pain or doesn't like something, he lets me know. You know what makes him angry beyond reason? A bitless bridle.


Experiences with ONE horse are not enough to make blanket statements about ALL horses.

Also, a SINGLE jointed bit can sometimes cause pressure on the roof of the mouth, not a double jointed one.
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How much pressure do I put on the bit? Whatever it takes...typically about a little finger's worth. But if she thinks she is in a race, it might be more like 20 lbs. Her choice. Not mine.

The kindest bit or bitless is based on what your horse will listen to. Trooper is a laid-back gelding. My daughter claims he has a 'stash of weed' hidden in the corral. Mia? She can get wound up over most anything. But both horses are more confident in a bit, because they understand more of what their rider wants when their rider uses a bit - and THAT gives them confidence. I've logged ample hours on both of them using a sidepull halter to know WHY I now ride them with a bit, and why Mia's bit is normally a curb bit.

I love this picture because it clearly shows the difference between their personalities (and their riders):

 

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My mare tosses her head, and is slow to respond, and I end up yanking hard on her face when i use a sidpull od dr cook. My mare will go more happily in a tom thumb, than a snaffle or bittles. It depends on the horse. I have seen horses able to ride in mechanical hacks, while mine will flip over if you HARDLY tap the reins. Some cant stand bits, some prefer them. Depends on the rider, and depends on the horse.
 

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This is my terribly abused horse in a snaffle bit. Can't you see him writhing in pain as I mercilessly crank down on his face?


Here he is standing around in pain after a ride trying to recover from the obvious damage his bit has done.

I'm sorry for getting dramatic here, but I'm so sick of this whole "bits hurt horses" crap. NO THEY DONT. Bad riders hurt horses.
Saying bits hurt horses is like saying guns kill people, and spoons make you fat
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
HOWEVER, I do still think less contact on a stronger bit rather than permanently pulling a horse on a short bit or bit less is better
Bits are cruel. They may not cause the moths to bleed because they do a lot of damage underneath to the flesh. A bigger bit that doesn't have to be touched is better. Just think though, what if you fall of on a hack or a trail and your horse bolts. When they stop they'll probably eat some grass, the reins slip and they stand on it, Lucy their head and instead of taking their time to think and take the pressure off by moving their for, they panic and pull against it more. Those situations are when horses get badly hurt. And I don't know whether Western competitions allow bitless, pretty sure they do bit every single British one let's bitless riders compete.

If you are willing to put the time in to train a horse to ride in a bit so responsively why not spend that time on not putting a bit in their mouths.

Everyone seems to just read the bit they don't like about my post and then reply but I said all horses are different and work in didn't ways. If a horse leafs well and doesn't evade the head collar then they will ride bitless just as well. The responsive they are on the ground the less you use your lead rope, right? Same goes for riding if you're willing to put the time and effort in to train the with a bit, try putting the same time and effort without a bit.

Of cause no-one ever will because bits are too strongly placed in the equine world when they shouldn't be. Horses are not designed to have anything but food and water in their mouths.

I do ride others horses in bits and don't get me wrong, they work well but they would work just as well or better without a bit.

Also, my horse was just an example, I know many horses I have backed and trained that work better bitless.

I hadn't really looked up on the straight bar but just from looking at it I'd say it's the kindest, but I don't know much about that.

Again, all horses are different and given the chance I still think MOST would work much happier without a chunk of metal in their moths. Also, most horses I have known to finish their career in showjumping, barrel racing and other fast working competitions have permanently bruised mouths. Not saying you do that to your house, but people get bruises from leaning on their legs for too long and bits are known, even when not doing anything, to making their tongues go numb and can take hours to get the feel back. Everything about bits are not designed for the comfort of the horse.

Whether someone chooses to take advantage of the fact they can use pain to control them takes bits into a whole new level of pain. Those who ride in an outline and have contact will make mistakes like being left behind and even if you let the reins slip, that's still going to hurt.

Again everything is only as painful as you make it but bits make it easier to cause pain.
 

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I caused more pain to my mare riding in a mechanical hack or her rope halter. I don't get the finesse, the speed, or the respect without the bit. I have to yank to get her to do anything, which is pointless. I go for highly sensitive and reactive to my cues, so I give the smallest cue possible before I jack the pressure up. BUT, bitless makes my mare angry and she will throw her head, snake it sideways, etc..whereas with a bit she'll hang her head, cock a leg, and relax.

Bits do not make it any easier to cause pain. A tope hackamore rubbing the flesh off the horse's poor nose is just as easy.

IMO, you sound like a child complaining that something hurts. Like others have said, this topic has been beaten to death, more than once. Do a bit more research, because every horse I've trained/retrained/worked with prefers a bit over anything bitless.
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1..I have fallen off and had them step on the reins. They are familiar enough with pressure they calmly just back up. Guess what happens in the same situation with a bitless bridle? Same thing if the horse knows to move away from pressure.

2. BITS ARE STRONGLY IN PLACE ON THE EQUINE WORLD BECAUSE UOU HAVE TO HAVE THEM FOR SHOWS. Showing, is a really, really, really big industry. Flat out, you cannot show in bitless bridles! If most horses would work better, please go jump on a 1D barrel horse, a champion working cow horse, etc. and see how that works for you. Sure, maybe trail horses, but once you get into performance horses and showing, you are going to need REFINEMENT of cues. That's what bits give you.

3. My horse would be irritated as all get out if I was pulling on his whole head, vs. one very small amout of pressure on the bit (which most bits are actually designed with the horses mouth in mind, that's how good bits work and good fitting bits sell the best, nobody makes bits out of random thoughts). My horse works off of 90% leg pressure, I don't have to yank or hardly touch the bit most of the ride. Can you raise the reins in a bitless and your horse be able to tell that he needs to round out? Bits with shanks can do that with very little pressure (still slack in the reins) because they have that leverage.

4. I have seen people be just as rough with hackamore as bits. None if my horses have EVER had bruised mouths, even if I have had to pally a good amout of pressure (which even bitless people have to do sometimes).
 

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" Again everything is only as painful as you make it but bits make it easier to cause pain."

I think your last line pretty much sums up everyone's thoughts.

Yeah, if your pulling, ripping, yanking, balancing off the reins, etc you horse will NO DOUBT cause pain to the horse. That's why a lot of our lesson horses who go well in a side pull are put in a side pull. But let me tell you, sometimes a nice hard yank in the nose isn't any bargain either.

If your hand are soft and your horse has been properly trained to respond to a bit there should be no pain involved.

As far as accidents... You really can't factor in the slight possibility of an accident happening to why bits shouldn't be used. For one they can be very painful for a horse to step on a side pull or mechanical hack too.
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OP ... first, don't believe everything you see/read on the internet...the "bits are cruel" people are starting there, but most don't even want you to ride a horse--because that is cruel as well. So, keep on the path you are on, and maybe you will not be able to ride your horse in a few years. And, the one guy here in the US that is a "bitless" person, watch him ride his horses without a bit -- they don't stop, turn, or do anything really good. Also, their heads are usually pointed up the whole time.

If your horse was opening its mouth when you were riding it with a bit, it was YOUR fault. Not the bit's.
 

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Folks need to drop the YouTube infomercials and pay attention to the horses that exist in reality.

No, not all horses prefer bitless. Mine were ridden bitless for several years, and they prefer bits. They are calmer, more responsive, and yes, happier. Why? Because they WANT to obey their riders, and bits communicate more clearly than bitless. Many people have the same experience.

Yes, the horse's mouth was designed to hold a bit. Why else would they be born with a gap in their teeth?

"Bits are cruel. They may not cause the moths to bleed because they do a lot of damage underneath to the flesh."

That would cause a bruise, and a sore spot. It would cause pain, infection, swelling, and a horse who is terrified of having anything put in its mouth. And all that ignores the reality in which most horses live out their lives.

"Same goes for riding if you're willing to put the time and effort in to train the with a bit, try putting the same time and effort without a bit."

Again, many of us have. Mia did 3 years bitless before she ever had a bit in her mouth. She had a year with snaffles before I put a curb in her mouth. And she is a much better horse after a year in a curb bit. Not just for riding, either - she has learned the world is not as scary as she thought, and she is a calmer horse while just hanging around in her corral.

" bits are known, even when not doing anything, to making their tongues go numb and can take hours to get the feel back"

Really? Any proof? Any? Not from YouTube, but from scientists who have studied how bits act? My evil & cruel curb bits don't do that to Mia. If bits numbed a horse's mouth, just by being in it, then they would have no effect on a horse after a few hours. Yet they do. I can ride my horse for several hours, then direct her with my pinkie finger on the reins, or by taking some of the slack out of the reins. If she can feel the weight of my pinkie on the reins after a few hours, in what sense is her mouth 'numb'?

"Those who ride in an outline and have contact will make mistakes like being left behind and even if you let the reins slip, that's still going to hurt. "

I'm not a fan of outlines, frames, or riding with contact...but I don't ignore the millions of horses ridden English style successfully to claim it causes them pain. Frankly, I blame MY HANDS instead of assuming others are causing pain. I simply do not ride well with constant contact, so I do not. I let the weight of the reins, amplified by the leverage of the shanks, create all the 'contact' I need for my purposes. But I do not use my failure as justification to accuse others of causing pain...

"...bits make it easier to cause pain..."

Some probably do. However, a mechanical hackamore that is not properly adjusted can break a horse's nose. My rope sidepull once removed a bunch of hair from Mia's face, and I'd bet THAT wasn't a fun feeling for her. The crossunder style I tried on her caused her to panic, because it squeezed her head and didn't give quick relief the way a bit will.

And if your horse bolts in blind panic in the desert, heedless of any highways coming up or drop offs or large rocks, which is more likely to save her life - a sidepull or a curb bit? Been there, done that, and the answer is a curb bit. A mechanical hackamore might also work, but there is nothing about a mechanical hackamore that makes it gentler than a curb bit unless your horse has a mouth injury.

Some horses do great bitless, and that is fine. A lot depends on the horse and the goals of the rider. For putzing around on a horse like Trooper (our Appy), a sidepull halter is fine. Mia does better in a curb even when just putzing around. But if a bit caused Mia pain, she would fight. She doesn't.
 

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My horse goes much better in a bit then anything bitless. It takes much less pressure to get my point across then hauling on him in a rope halter etc. I bet if you could ask him he would tell you the same. Although at the same time I'm sure he would tell you ha would much rather hang out in his paddock all day not being ridden at all and eating.

"Horses are not designed to have anything but food and water in their mouths."

And as far as this goes horses are also not designed to carry a saddle and rider on their back, wear shoes, live in a barn or paddock etc. For that matter even have contact with people considering they are a prey animal.

If the OP is so concerned with what's humane and what's not maybe they should set their horses free to live as nature intended, farting glitter and chasing rainbows. Me? I'm going to use my horse as I see fit ;)
 

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I'll say the exact same things that I said on a nearly identical thread that was made about a week ago.

Firstly, many horse show associations (particularly in the English world) require that your horse have a bit, and usually they are particular about the type. That's why many of us don't "spend the time" trying to train our horses bitless.

Secondly, the "not natural" part? Really? When did wearing leather equipment and carrying a 100+ lb rider become part of their physiology? You'll have to remind me.

I ride my horse in a gag. I KNOW how to ride, and how not to be harsh on his mouth. He is happy as a little clam, and has no issues with it.

If YOU want to ride without a bit, cool. Do it, have fun, enjoy your horse. These preachy threads are a little bit of a turnoff, though...
 
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