For those who believe in the comfort and physical/psychological health of their horse, a bitless bridle is a natural choice.
One hundred or more behavioural problems in the horse are bit-induced. Bits are a common cause of bone spurs on the bars of the mouth and head shaking (facial neuralgia) along with many behavioural problems such as bolting, rearing, teeth grinding, head tossing and being hard to bridle.
A bitless bridle can provide better communication than a bit or natural hackamore/rope halter, and more reliable brakes and backup than a bit. Freedom from pain results in calmness and confidence and this can even translate to a better stride and improved movement, including improved hoof function.
A Bitless Bridle is a wonderful tool for starting young horses under saddle as it allows them to focus on learning the aids instead of worrying about the discomfort and strange new feeling in their mouth from a bit. And there are plenty of riders who have taken horses to high levels of education bitless proving that good education can replace the bit or any other piece of equipment we use on the horse to control it.
Many entrepreneurial riders have now manufactured bitless bridles to give us plenty of choices to suit different horses and disciplines. The styles and types now available vary widely from those with overall head-hugging pressure, to leverage, to simple nose pressure. These are available in a large range of materials from rope to leather and synthetic and can be either a full bridle or a noseband attachment.
For example, my contribution to the Bitless revolution is the LightRider Bitless Bridle (one style pictured here) that horses love for its gentle action and comfort, and riders love for its good looks. “We can use a bit of steel and pain (or the threat of it) to control our horse OR we can use a bit of education and understanding – which do you choose?” The articles below will help you understand more about the different bitless bridles and how they work.
Articles and Posts
- Tradition or Science of bitting: Which do we follow? By Dr R. Cook
- Is the bit really so cruel? Many more articles by Dr R. Cook
- To Bit or Not To Bit – by Janene Clemence This article details the damage bits can cause to horses.
A list of insurance companies, instructors, clubs, associations and breed groups that allow the use of bitless bridles.