Bitless Riding Tips

Cynthia and Charlie at Agfest 2011
Cynthia and Charlie at Agfest 2011

As I find or write useful tips for bitless riding they will be published here so please check back, or sign up for my news blog to be notified when new content is added.

Bitless Basics Overview

Parts of the presentation I did on Bitless Riding at Agfest to give a brief overview of some of the things you can teach your horse.
Basics like lateral flexion, hindquarter yields and a responsive backup will improve your horse’s education and your ability to communicate with your horse in any situation.

Articles and advice

Disengagement is a Powerful Control – by Philip Nye
This article explains how to control your horse’s hindquarters so you aren’t relying on just the reins for control and is the safest way to ride bitless.

To Bit or Not To Bit – by Janene Clemence
This article details the damage bits can cause to horses.

To Bit or Not To Bit by Dr Amanda Warren-Smith looks at the responses of young horses to bitted and bitless bridles during foundation training.

Bitless Resources

A list of insurance companies, instructors, clubs, associations, and breed groups that allow the use of bitless bridles.

 

Lunging to Connection: A Road Less Travelled - by Jo Spiller I have had the most marvellous time writing this article.  There are things I thought I knew; I mean, after all, I have a degree from The British Horse Society to teach riding. I have been teaching riders and schooling horses successfully for a long time, so what could I be missing? [...]
Get Better Bitless Control by Moving the Hind End - by Cynthia Cooper. Control (or lack of it) seems to be one of the big fears riders face when starting to ride bitless. For me as a natural horsemanship devotee, it wasn’t an issue at all because the program I followed developed control on the ground that translated directly to the saddle. I came to [...]
The World Bitless Association – helping all horses - Since the World Bitless Association was officially launched In October 2018, it has attracted thousands of followers.  Their worldwide representation includes vets, trainers, instructors and behaviourists who are focused on equine welfare. Their training methods are based on sound science, (learning theory) compassion and adherence to the principles of LIMA (Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive). This not-for-profit [...]
Monsieur Chapeau, winning a championship at the MEPBG Exmoor Pony Show at Brendon Show (Image: Geoff Baylis) LightRider Bitless Bridles has a new global brand Ambassador -   Recently the World Bitless Association ran a campaign to find their ‘Champion Bitless Ambassador’. LightRider Bridles were one of the 4 brand sponsors, each also awarding their own brand ambassador from the entries submitted. Exmoor Pony gelding Monsieur Chapeau with owner Dawn Westcott won the LightRider Champion Bitless Ambassador. The pair was also awarded [...]
Bitless Bridles are moving on up! - Good things are happening in the world of riding with bitless bridles. LightRider Bitless bridles approved for dressage competition in the Netherlands   Official news – Sarah Joosten reports: the KNHS (Dutch Sports Federation) approved the bitless LightRider Bridle so it can be used as a bitless bridle at competitions in the Netherlands! Bitless Bridles [...]
LightRider Dressage Deb Do You Know When to try a Bitless Bridle? - Do you ever find yourself wondering whether it would be worth trying a bitless bridle? Although riding with a bit is often required by the competitions and clubs a rider is involved in, there are times when trying something different could have real benefits beyond being fashionable. With a good range of bitless options available [...]
Bitless Bridles and ‘Lipstick Foam’ - by Yvonne Welz Does the bit cause foaming? Maybe not… It has long been assumed that a horse chewed and salivated because there was a foreign object (a metal bit) in its mouth. And right now, I’m not here to debate whether bits should or should not be used on horses. I just want to talk about the [...]
Bitless Bridles Seen as Safer Alternative for Horses in New Study -  from www.thehorse.com Previous studies evaluating the behavioural responses of horses to different types of bridles found that horses perform at least as well, if not better, with a bitless bridle than a jointed snaffle. To probe deeper into the issue, Robert Cook, FRCVS, PhD, and Daniel Mills, BVSc, PhD, IL TM, CBiol MIBiol, MRCVS, tested [...]
Choosing the Best Bitless Bridle - by Cynthia Cooper Over the past 5 or 6 years bitless bridles have increased in popularity and so have the number of available styles. Like bits, they can have very different actions and levels of comfort for the horse, so choosing a bitless bridle comes down to knowing how the various designs work and what [...]
Bitless Bridles – What’s the Difference? - Until a few years ago there used to be very few choices if you wanted to ride without a bit in your horse’s mouth. The Star Hackamore was an old favourite style of bitless bridle. There was the western style bosal, the mechanical hackamore or the rope halter, mostly used by western riders, showjumpers and [...]
Getting a Bitless Connection - by Josepha at www.josepha.info Q: How do I get connection with my horse without a bit? A: First of all, I ask the question to each person what ‘connection’ is according to them. What people mostly say is the following: “The rider energises the horse with the legs (impulsion), after which the rider restricts the impulsion [...]
Riding Bitless – ‘On the Bridle’ - By Cynthia Cooper The term ‘on the bit’ has become commonplace and used to denote a certain frame or level of head carriage and collection of the horse. But what happens when you don’t have a bit in your horse’s mouth? Can your horse still collect and if they do, what can you call it? [...]
How to transition to a Bitless Bridle - By Cynthia Cooper © There’s a saying – “Go shoe-less but not clue-less” so here’s another – “Go bit-less but not wit-less”. (I’m sure it’s been said before)! So you’ve decided to listen to your horse and get rid of the bit. You may have read about or heard of the negative effects a bit [...]
Bitless Riding Differences - Is bitless riding the same as with a bit? When riding with a bitless bridle, there are some perceived, and a couple of real differences to riding with a bit that will help with your transition and training. Confident riders and well educated horses who have a good basic foundation generally won’t have a problem [...]
Bitless – Challenges and Solutions - © Glenn Wilson July 2011 A look at some reasons why a person chooses to ride their horse bitless. These may be reasons that are not immediately apparent. The decision by some horse riders to go bitless brings many of them face to face with more controversy, more issues, more challenges and more personal revelations [...]
Bitless News - What’s so special about going bitless? I asked myself that as I was wondering what makes people who choose to ride with without a bit different from the rest? I came to the conclusion that we are people who choose to put the relationship with our horse first by choosing non-harmful equipment. We are also [...]
Inspiration - Dan Files I have been emailing with Dan who is from Martinsburg in West Virginia, USA, for a couple of years now, ever since he purchased a LightRider bitless bridle for his good mate, Dollar. Dan inspires me with his stories about  Dollar and the lengths he goes to take care of him, despite is disabilities. [...]
Bitless News - Bitless Basics Overview Video Parts of the presentation I did on Bitless Riding at Agfest last month were filmed and photographed (thanks Saskia and Nikki) and I’ve put together a sample of some Bitless Basics to give a brief overview of some of the things you can teach your horse. Basics like lateral flexion, hindquarter [...]
Bitless Endorsement by Horse Safety Australia - LightRider Bitless Bridles Endorsed by Horse Safety Australia I am very pleased to announce that after almost a year of trialling the LightRider Bitless Bridle and Bitless Noseband, the executive of Horse Safety Australia have given their endorsement. “it is something the executive were happy to endorse, especially considering the quality of the materials in your [...]
DVD Review - Through The Eyes of the Horse – Understanding Under Saddle with Carlos Tabernaberri There are few DVD’s available that specifically cover bitless riding without the need to progress to a bit. Carlos always advocates riding with a halter or bitless bridle and this DVD outlines his approach in a top quality presentation. Using many different horses [...]
Bitless Science - The science around riding bitless is limited but here are some helpful articles and sources. Both of these articles have the same title, but different information. One focuses on the physical damage a bit can cause to the horse, and the other on a study done to evaluate the difference between young horses started with [...]

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